Obama: More Analysis Needed Before ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ Repeal

While Obama’s press secretary Robert Gibbs said in a Change.gov video that “Yes,” the President would lift the ban on gays in the military, Obama is signaling that it will be months if not years before enough canvassing of military officials and congressional leadership can be done for him to be comfortable in moving forward:

Dadt“Obama is hoping to avoid the missteps of the Clinton administration when it tried to open the ranks to gays and lesbians, only to be confronted by fierce resistance from lawmakers and commanders…At the Pentagon, officials say they have been told not to expect the administration to seek to lift the ban quickly. One senior officer, speaking on the condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to speak to the press, said staff officers for Admiral Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, have been told it will be several months at the earliest – possibly not even this year – until the top brass will be formally asked to weigh in on a change in policy. And even then, he said, the military has been assured it will have wide latitude to undertake a detailed study of how a change in the policy would affect the military.”

Nathaniel Frank, a researcher at a think tank in Santa Barbara, California, says there is “good reason” for Obama to proceed with caution, but points out the issues with moving too slowly: “A delay could let opposition fester and build.”

In December, Colin Powell said it was time to re-evaluate the policy. And in November, over 100 retired generals and admirals called for the repeal of the policy.

The NYT: “Mr. Obama’s cultivation of the military has reached the point that it is already causing unease among some members of his liberal base, who say they will hold him to his promise on troop withdrawals and pressure him to move more quickly on’don’t ask, don’t tell.’ The nation’s largest gay rights lobbying group has called on the president to develop a plan to end ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ within his first 100 days, and another group is asking that Mr. Obama push for repeal by the end of the year. ‘I’d be very concerned if they don’t seize this opportunity in 2009,” said Aubrey Sarvis, the executive director of the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, an advocacy group that represents gay men and lesbians in the military. “We take the president at his word, and we plan to keep his feet to the fire.'”

Obama seeks assessment on gays in military [boston globe]


  1. RogerRamjet says

    What else is new? Looks like Uncle Tom-bama has finally shown his true color; Red-neck. I am so dissapointed in him. I should have known better.

    Wonder if Uncle Tom-Bama intends to use the right-wing nut version of ‘Don’t ask, Don’t Tell’ or the truth: Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, Don’t Pursue’.

    None the less, this president lied to everyone again. It just usually takes a lot longer for us to find out we’ve been conned. Should have paid a little more attention to the whole Rick Warren thing.

    Shame on me for believing in Hope.

  2. peterparker says

    I can see how it would be smart politics to move forward with deliberation rather than charging in as Clinton did. Having said that, I think I admire Clinton’s approach for it’s all out ballsy-ness not to mention the message it originally sent that we are equal before Clinton was forced to cave in to the homophobes. At least a *little* more force from the Obama camp would be appreciated.

  3. Strepsi says

    No kidding, PETERPARKER. Canvassing? Why don’t we canvas the majority of people in Kentucky, Alabama and Tennessee about whether black people should be able to date white girls, and guage African American civil rights accordingly? Just do it already for goodness sake. They’ve already canvassed the generals (in favor) and other more progressive nations where gays are in the military already (no problems – not one single issue in over a decade here in Canada alone). Come on already!

  4. JASONASIAN says

    It’s the lesser of the two evils. While the current Pres might not do much for us, he’s not out to destroy us like the other side. It sucks, but sometimes you gotta look at the risks, and take the path that’s gonna hurt less.

  5. JayDub says

    And McCain would have done more at 2 weeks in office? He is one man who is trying to change the world… it is NOT going to happen overnight – good grief!

  6. rudy says

    Surprised? Hardly. It will be late in Obama’s second term before this and other gay issues are addressed by this administration. It is called “politics” and not about to change any time soon.

    My baseline concern remains The Supremes. With Obama about to achieve a non-fillibusterable 60 vote majority in the Senate, the longer-term goal of a solid progressive majority on the high court is becoming achievable.

  7. John in CA says

    Why are we even focusing on the most difficult issues first?

    Even among Democrats, the military and marriage are the most divisive areas of our agenda. Discrimination (generally) and hate crimes, on the other hand, are not really an issue within the party. Instead of wasting our time trying to convince Obama to move up the timetable on DADT and DOMA, which he clearly won’t do anyway, we should be pressuring Congress to finish up work on the Matthew Shepard Act and Employment Non-Discrimination Act.

    We have the votes. We can affect real change with these pieces of legislation. And yet, we continue to waste our precious money and time on “Peter Pan” pipe dreams. Look HRC, just get what you can out of this Congress, even if it means putting contentious issues like DADT and DOMA in the drawer. Something is better than nothing.

  8. anon says

    The problem is that the military recruits heavily in conservative areas like the South. However, they can hold promotions on the line until the brass concedes defeat.

  9. Leland Frances says

    Jessica H. Christ! The ignorance that the press is allowed to get away with. Clinton did NOT sign an Executive Order only to have it shot down by Congress as suggested by the Globe article. @#$#!!#$

    More to the point, Obama Inc. is NOT “avoid[ing] the mistakes of Bill Clinton,” they are wilffully REPEATING them!!!!

    Clinton’s first mistake was the one that castrated him in the end: the moment he got pushback from the Pentagon troglodytes, led by the insubordinate-should-have-been-fired-on-the-spot Gen. Rectum Powell, he decided to “work with the military” instead of saying, “Excuse fucking me, I AM the Commander-in-Chief. You WILL do what I say or your military career is over.” [Even some grunts who opposed integration said, “We will follow orders” just as Mullen did on “60 Minutes” recently in relation to Iraq.]

    Clinton’s choice gave the civilian opposition time to flood Congress with calls, letters, etc., screaming bloody murder which contributed to the defeat of a bill in Congress by Boxer, Schroeder, et al., to open the military and the passage of DADT after homohating cracker Sen. Sam Nunn, eager to get even Clinton for passing him over for Secretary of Defense, led TV camera crews through a dog-and-pony show in the cramped sleeping quarters of a submarine, stacked televised hearings with military opponents of integration. Yes, the opposition is already there but this gives them more time to do the same kind of damage then did in ’93.

    In the primary debates, when asked what he would do if the Pentagon opposed withdrawing from Iraq, Obama quickly responded that he would remind them that he was Commander-in-Chief. But all this nonsense about getting “buy in” from the Pentagon is historical ignorance and political cowardice. Studies commissioned by the military going all the way back to NINETEEN FUCKINNG FIFTY-SEVEN have already proven that open gays can serve with distinction, and in the intervening half-century mountains of evidence have risen that the average soldier doesn’t care as long as the gay soldier does his/her job well.

    Congress, which is, again, only required to repeal the ban because of Clinton giving them time to formally legislate one, is a different matter, they will need persuaded. But Commander-in-Chief Obama is CREATING a second obstacle, doubling the delay to repeal, by giving the tail permission to wag the dog.

    According to the NYT article at the link below, Obama developed a young, former military officer posse during the primaries that are now continuing to advise him, even getting Administration jobs. Sweet that members of a national gay business group was invited to join advisors to him on the economy. WHEN is he going to invite a group of recent GAY VETS to advise him about what’s really going on in the military on the ground, like those who were interviewed months ago on “60 Minutes” about being out with impunity to their superior officers and comrades?


  10. MCnNYC says

    You know I’d much rather he use his “political capital” –if any–for an inclusive ENDA bill….but this was what he indicated and this pull back has to be another dissapointment to the GLBT as well as the American Family.

    I do think that President Barrack-I-Just-Want-To-Be-Loved-Obama has not demostrated any fire in the belly for this or really ANY issue so far.

  11. Yeek says

    I’m going to shun the blue Kool-Aid (“I *trust* him!!”) and the black bile (“he’s betraying us!”) for the bland evidence of deeds.

    Obama gets no credit for any supportive words or an uplifting website. He will earn (or lose) my respect by actually getting things done for gay people. I gave him a pass on Donnie McCluken, and then Rick Warren burned off my good will. If he’s still spinning the charm and has nothing to show for it in two years, anyone who still believes in him will be an idiot.

  12. Brix says

    He better not wait too long. Historically the party in the Whitehouse will lose seats duirng the first mid-term election. He has the votes to do this NOW. He will lose some of those votes as the honeymoon wears off, and he will lose seats in 24 months.

  13. says

    i met two guys last week who are in the service and are together. talking with them was fascinating. they were really great guys. despite the fact that they are ingrained with the military command structure as part of their lives (they had the aura of military personnel) they were open about their history and relationship because where we were was a totally accepting and open environment at the time and they had nothing to fear. everyone else was lgbtq or friends there. [i realize i’m being a little evasive here, but i don’t want to take any chance of compromising their jobs in any way.]

    i was very proud to meet these two men. they are doing something they truly believe in by being in the military, yet the sense of how careful they knew they had to be and hiding who they really are has to be so much hard work, and they talked about the impact it has on their lives, both together and individually.

    i felt a sense of sadness, and i told them this, because no matter what we’ve all gone through, they have to deal with something that has to be so constraining it has to be stifling at times.

    i also feel safer because of them; they are helping to protect me and the country. their sense of dedication and duty was so obvious. they wouldn’t want to be doing anything else. i applaud them wholeheartedly.

    i don’t see an end to DADT in the near future; i see Obama doing exactly what he did when he was here in Illinois as a state senator – placating everyone. i see him working for one thing and one thing only – reelection in four years!

    anyone who was hoping he would make the changes he talked about is a dreamer. take for example his repeated statements during the campaigh that he was “not in favor of” same-sex marriage. for those of you who may not have heard, Chicago’s “Windy City Times” has a taped interview with him when he was running for state office when he “explicitly” stated that he supports total marriage equality.

    what do you think changed his mind…?

    i also feel a sense of helplessness for the two guys i mention above. i don’t know what i can do. i support SLDN monetarily and spreading the word on doing away with DADT, but i don’t feel it to be enough.

    no one should be forced to live in fear of being who they are. if you’re older, as i am, i have to tell you that we have only felt a tiny amount of the fear of being outed compared to them. if you are younger, i want to tell you how lucky you are because it has been so much easier for you. i also thank the gods, fate or whatever you believe or don’t believe in that it is going to become easier – just not as fast as we want or it should.

  14. James Poppinga says

    And it begins…….So far it looks like he’s making a lot of mistakes, with saying he wants bipatisanship. But he’s not making any friends fast. Im a Roosevelt Democrat and belive in Obama, but he’s a pragmatist first and it might be years before he can convince a right-wing, religious filled military. It’s going to have to be force.

  15. John in CA says


    By trying to placate everyone though, he might end up fustrating them instead. Some of the Democrats in Congress are already reportedly miffed that he seems to court Republican favor at their expense. And the various backdoor deals he’s concluding with GOP senators isn’t going to help that perception much.

    The House Democratic leaders (Pelosi, Hoyer, Waxman, Frank, Conyers, Rangel) – who are more “left-wing” than their counterparts in the Senate – will go along with Obama’s tax cut schemes for the moment because he’s very popular (and they don’t have any better ideas). But if his associations with the Republicans fail to produce any tangible results for “the change agenda” by the end of year, they’re not going to be patient with him forever.

    The blowup won’t be over gays and lesbians. We’re not that important. It’ll be about the $$$$$$$ issues. Unions. Taxes. Spending. As it always is.

    But unlike with Bill Clinton in 1996, the public might not be in a mood for the blame game this time around. Americans want the change Obama promised. Not more excuses.

  16. Banne says

    Well I just hope those who for the last 15 years have accused Clinton of “throwing us under the bus” are ready and willing to make those accusations if eight years of Obama go by and gays still cannot openly serve in the military. There is no need to do more analysis. Studies ad nauseam have been done on this, both here in the United States and abroad in other countries. We have the biggest majority we will ever have in the Senate. It’s now or never. He has two years to get it done or we can forget about it. If Bill Clinton was willing to try to change the policy 15 years ago, then there has been plenty of time to analyze this issue. The time has come for CHANGE. If he’s not willing to deliver on this message by 2012, he will NOT be receiving my vote in 2012. We should not have to CHOOSE between DADT, ENDA, DOMA. We have our majority, we have our President of Change and we have an electorate that was clearly fed up with the status quo.

    I’m not even sure what analysis there needs to be? Wrong is wrong. If other nations can manage to successfully run their armies with gays serving openly, then we can too.

    I’m not ready to say I told you so about Obama, but damn if it isn’t looking like he is quick to backtrack on issues. Remember, so many gay people discussed how he was the better choice than others because he was willing to make the tough speeches to hostile audiences…he was willing to tell conservatives their views are misguided and wrong in their own towns and meeting halls. Where is that audacity now? I’m sick of the defending from gays of politicians who are just “playing politics.” He isn’t supposed to be that type of politician. This isn’t change. And I don’t care about the future…I’m here now and I want equality now. Not when I’m dead and buried.

  17. Foochy says

    This story is largely based on the assertion of “unnamed sources,” so it does give me some pause as to its veracity. It seems like politicking as high art when soldiers are dying because their LGBT translator was thrown out of the Army. That being said, it seems Obama is working on building consensus so that DADT cannot be reinstated at a later date (which could happen if Obama were to sign an Executive Order).

    When Eisenhower signed the Executive Order allowing blacks in the Armed Forces as soldiers (rather than cooks and porters), there had been colored regiments since the Revolutionary War which paved the way to repealing the ban, despite its unpopularity with certain segments of the nation at the time. Eisenhower, however, had military clout that Clinton and Obama lack, which explains their reliance on others about how to proceed.

    Regardless, the Armed Forces has worked diligently at promoting a racially diverse workplace since Eisenhower ended troop segregation — in fact, as an occupation group, soldiers have the highest percentage of interracial marriage, particularly between white men and black women. In my opinion, that is what has DADT boosters scared: if military diversity training has that type of power of leveling race as an issue between people, what could that training do to homophobia?

  18. Michael Bedwell says

    Your intentions are good, Foochy, but some of your facts are wrong.

    1. The American Navy was fully INTEGRATED throughout the 1800s [Confederate Navy excluded]. The rise of Jim Crow laws after the Civil War eventually led all the services, including the Navy, to permit only segregated black units while the Army Air Force barred blacks entirely.

    2. That was the situation when President TRUMAN, not Eisenhower, issued the Executive Order in 1948 that officially integrated the services. Ironically, it WAS driven by Republicans who were exploiting service segregation in that year’s election [while they would eventually join Dixiecrats in fighting civilian integration tooth and nail].

    However, many problems continued for several years, particularly in relation to training, advancement, and monitoring force discrimination. The last all black unit wasn’t disbanded until 1954.

  19. brandykon8 says

    It will be unfair if we LGBT are refused. Just like you refuse the help from kind person. You will hurt us. What we endure to do is to build a harmonious world, How can be be successful? In this way? We LGBT espcially on __Bimingle.com_ put eyes on Obama’s words. We are also a member, a part of the world. If we get refused, you guys are not so kind at all.

  20. WeTheSheeple says

    While I don’t like his back tracking, it’s not up to Obama! DADT must be repealled by CONGRESS. Even as Commander in Chief, he can’t just issue an executive order. Specifically, US Code Title 10 needs to be repealled. There are also areas of the UCMJ that Congress will need to change as well.

    So write to Congress if you want this policy changed.

  21. N.J. says

    DADT will end sometime before midterm election. Obama offended more people by inviting Gene Robinson to be part of the inauguration than he did by inviting Rick Warren.

    The advice to get a “consensus” on the issue before asking Congressional Democrats to simply put up legislation and watch it go down in flames like it did in 2007 when Democrats tried to get a bill on the docket and it was blocked by Republicans and conservative Democrats from ever getting to a vote.

    No matter how you slice it, DADT is a law, and it has to be overturned in Congress. The White House can’t do jack about it and the only way to make an end run around the conservatives in Congress is to get a position statement from the military stating that DADT is not only not working but it is having an adverse effect on getting highly trained specialists in the military.

    Pressure to get Congress to do something might assuage the ill feelings, but it will not get the bill passed simply by getting 3 republicans to sign on like the stimulus package. It will also require convincing another five or six , and probably more, conservative Democrats to vote for it as well. Right now, even having sixty Democrats in Congress would not get a repeal of DADT passed. There are not close to enough vbtes, and pressure on those conservative Dems to sign will not be as great as pressure on them to not sign by their largely conservative constituents. Many of the conservative Democrats who voted against the stimulus package in the house, will most certainly vote against repealing DADT and even those conservative centrists who worked with the centrist Republicans to get a stimulus bill passed have openly stated that they would not support the repeal of DADT unless their is a clear desire from the military itself to repeal it, not just 100 retired generals.

    The fact that the military wants this repealed is more than obvious, expecially when Robert Gates replaced Peter Pace who not only opposed DADT, but any santioning of gays in the military, with the Admiral Mullen, one of the more vocal opponents to DADT. Since Obamas inauguration, Mullen has been quoted as saying that Obama wants DADT to be repealed and he wants the military advice on how to implement it, NOT whether they like it or not

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