Barack Obama | Don't Ask, Don't Tell | Military | News

Obama Repeats Promise to Repeal 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell'



Here's the portion of Obama's State of the Union speech that mentions "Don't Ask, Don't Tell":

"My Administration has a Civil Rights Division that is once again prosecuting civil rights violations and employment discrimination. We finally strengthened our laws to protect against crimes driven by hate. This year, I will work with Congress and our military to finally repeal the law that denies gay Americans the right to serve the country they love because of who they are. It's the right thing to do."

No real specifics. We better get some soon. Considering that the Defense Dept. asked Levin to delay this week's hearings because of the President's speech, I expected him to have some sort of an announcement that might have offered a reason for the delay, but in his speech Obama just seemed to repeat the status quo. If they had allowed the hearings to proceed this week, Obama could have said, "Hearings are underway to repeal this discriminatory policy," which, with his intentions, would have made a much stronger statement imho.

John McCain came out almost immediately after the speech with a statement against the repeal of DADT. Here's what he said:

“In his State of the Union address, President Obama asked Congress to repeal the ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ policy. I am immensely proud of, and thankful for, every American who wears the uniform of our country, especially at a time of war, and I believe it would be a mistake to repeal the policy. This successful policy has been in effect for over fifteen years, and it is well understood and predominantly supported by our military at all levels. We have the best trained, best equipped, and most professional force in the history of our country, and the men and women in uniform are performing heroically in two wars. At a time when our Armed Forces are fighting and sacrificing on the battlefield, now is not the time to abandon the policy.”

Full prepared remarks here.

What did you think of the speech as a whole? Watch it all, AFTER THE JUMP...

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  1. "I will work with people this year to get DADT repealed at some undefined point in the future"

    Uh huh. Just like the issue had to be sent "for indefinite study" a year back, despite there having already been 20 studies done on it saying the same thing.. right..

    Let me know when it actually happens. We've already heard this shit before.

    Stop talking and fucking DO SOMETHING. Till you do, you've EARNED the cynicism you're receiving.

    Posted by: Grimmlok | Jan 27, 2010 10:41:57 PM

  2. @David: Bravo! The headline alone was just tacky.

    Posted by: DEREK WASHINGTON | Jan 27, 2010 10:42:54 PM

  3. As a conservative and a 'small-business' Republican business-owner, I just wish he had given this speech 12-months ago...rather than wasting a year on health-care and propping-up Wall Street.

    Posted by: Ted B. (Charging Rhino) | Jan 27, 2010 10:43:45 PM

  4. What an asshole we have in the WH!

    Posted by: Jas | Jan 27, 2010 10:43:56 PM

  5. Very inspiring speech, the man still has the gift of being an inspiring speaker. Now if only those grand words would help push through this agenda. Sadly, there are many that want him to fail for all manner of reasons, which makes so many of the goals he outlined a real uphill battle at best and, unfortunately, puts the greater good of the country out to pasture.

    Still, I enjoyed hearing him stick it to the SCOTUS over their horrifying decision last week on campaign spending (especially as they were sitting right there in front of them, though the main offenders didn’t seem to be present). I appreciate the proclamation on DADT (though it still seems like incremental foot-dragging --why not an Executive Order like the on for the bi-partisan Fiscal Commission?) And yes, Mrs. Obama was radiant...

    Posted by: ichabod | Jan 27, 2010 10:44:38 PM

  6. No, Aaron, it is not "blatently unconstitutional" for Obama issue a stop loss. In fact, it is one of the many RIGHTS that the commander in chief of the u.s. military services has. Do your homework before making unsubstantiated and FALSE claims like that.

    Posted by: TANK | Jan 27, 2010 10:47:23 PM

  7. I just can't believe I finally heard a President say the word "gay" in a State of the Union. And I thought the speech was excellent.

    Posted by: clint | Jan 27, 2010 10:48:31 PM

  8. Sorry, David Kaufman and Matthew Rettenmund, but I think you're being quite naive. As the realist correctly points out, there was no real pledge in the statement. He said he will WORK to repeal the law. Plenty of wiggle room there. As for the burden on us, you're wrong. The next step is something none of us can accomplish: having the top brass in the Pentagon endorse repeal. Only the President can do that, and when we were all working so hard in 2008, we thought we were electing a President who would direct the top brass in the Pentagon to accept repeal. The ball is NOT in Congress's court. Congress does not typically override the top brass in the Pentagon. Saying the ball is in Congress's court is the White House's way of dodging responsibility. The principal responsibility is getting the joint chiefs on board. What is the President doing to accomplish that? NOTHING so far as any of us can tell. NOTHING. Until the Pentagon moves, Congress won't. Wake up. Or maybe I should say stop cutting and pasting White House spin into comments here.

    Posted by: Steve | Jan 27, 2010 10:48:54 PM

  9. God Im tired of this. If you are for civil rights Obama then how can you be against gay marriage?

    Posted by: Jonnyj | Jan 27, 2010 10:49:30 PM

  10. Aaron Rowland, the President has statutory authority to issue a stop-loss order tomorrow. He refuses to do it. Did we elect a President or a shrinking violet?

    Posted by: Steve | Jan 27, 2010 10:51:38 PM

  11. Obama could easily sign an executive order telling all that DADT will no longer be enforced. It has been a year and he has not done so. I am very disappointed in the President I voted for.

    Posted by: Michael | Jan 27, 2010 10:53:40 PM

  12. Tank,

    You might not want to get advice on constitutional law from press releases by progressive advocacy groups. They serve a great purpose, but not that.

    Think I'm wrong? Pick up the phone tomorrow and call any constitutional law professor at an Ivy or otherwise reputable law school. I can assure you that you won't find a single person who will tell you that a president can just ignore a congressional order.

    I know it's a shock, but you can't believe everything you read online.

    Posted by: Aaron Rowland | Jan 27, 2010 10:56:40 PM

  13. I don't think there's anything wrong with pushing the President to fulfill the promises he campaigned on. I think he expects it. And when the White House asks Congress, as it was reported, to postpone DADT hearings until after the SOTU speech I don't think it's unreasonable to expect something more than the same sentence he has used over and over.

    On the whole I thought it was an excellent speech given the position he's in right now with the economy, health care, etc.

    Posted by: Andy Towle | Jan 27, 2010 10:56:42 PM

  14. The bone's been thrown, people. Start chewing!

    He said:

    "This year, I WILL WORK with Congress and our military to finally repeal the law that denies gay Americans the right......."


    "This year, I, Congress and our military will finally repeal the law that denies gay Americans the right.........."

    Posted by: Morpheus | Jan 27, 2010 10:57:59 PM

  15. Our country is in the toilet and there was A LOT to cover tonight so give the guy a break on the LGBT issues gaining huge spotlight in the speech. The fact that he mentioned a commitment to repeal DADT a move in the right direction. Let's be grateful to be making progress and keep working at it.

    Agreed, the Republican laughing at the mention of climate change being agreed upon by the global scientific community was sickening.

    Posted by: Jfanyc | Jan 27, 2010 10:59:10 PM

  16. @Steve

    It is truly pathetic when you are so embittered that you will dissect every word and every action of every single minute to absolutely prove to yourself that you were "right" about Obama turning his back on the gay community. It is very simple to sit back and criticize. It is much harder to come up with solutions. For me, giving up on our President, and taking every minute that passes without action as a broken promise is not productive at all. Think about it...your logic is: No Full Gay Rights Right NOW = Actively broken promises. That says more about the state of Americans' instant gratification syndrome that was developed through "easy living" than it says about our president. I'm extremely interested to see the demographics of this blog.

    Posted by: jjasonham | Jan 27, 2010 11:01:10 PM

  17. I'm Tired of Talk. I want to see ACTION dammit! I vowed months ago to never listen to another speech by the POTUS until I see some of the change I voted for. And this one was included. I don't care what he says, I care about what he DOES. So, DO something already!

    Posted by: johnny | Jan 27, 2010 11:01:18 PM

  18. Look, if he hadn't said he would work with the military, the opponents would say he was ignoring them. If he hadn't said he would work with congress, they would say he's abusing his authority. It's the responsibility of ALL of them to end DADT, and "finally end" and "It's the right thing to do" are pretty strong statements. I'll give him credit for them (but for no longer than the year he said it would take).

    I also agree that his taking SCOTUS to task "with all due respect" was a pretty dramatic moment. Most of the justices (rightly) sat there impassively, but Alito made an ass of himself by shaking his head.

    Posted by: Gianpiero | Jan 27, 2010 11:02:20 PM

  19. Did you see Axelrod on CNN (Blitzer)? DADT is a priority but said very specificaly not a hi priority

    CCN around 6pm eastern

    Posted by: mass tom | Jan 27, 2010 11:03:08 PM

  20. I am sick and tired of incremental change Obama apologist types pretending like this president has any balls. At least GWB stood up to his enemies and fought back, this guy has not done a fucking thing for us and people act like he should be treated like the second coming of christ.

    I am done with hope...this man ain't ever gonna do a thang for us you silly queers. The sooner we wake up to that reality the better.

    Posted by: Travelingman Rick | Jan 27, 2010 11:04:16 PM

  21. As a previous commenter said, the "this year" is VERY significant in Washington speak.

    And the reason he said "I will work to repeal" rather than "I will repeal" is that HE can't repeal it himself. Congress needs to go along. It will undoubtedly but saying "I will" would have been unconstitutionally presumptuous.

    The skepticism is warranted by a terrible first year on gay rights compared to what was expected but this is a small light at the end of the tunnel on that issue.

    Posted by: nhuixnhuix | Jan 27, 2010 11:07:47 PM

  22. Dear Barack: Actions speak louder than words. We'll be watching what you actually do.

    Posted by: Traveler J | Jan 27, 2010 11:13:40 PM

  23. "Tank,

    You might not want to get advice on constitutional law from press releases by progressive advocacy groups."

    That's neither an argument against the case made, nor is it an indictment of the source.

    "They serve a great purpose, but not that."

    This is meaningless drivel. It is that. Nathanial Frank, who works for the Palm Center, has authored one of the most comprehensive books arguing for DADT's repeal. He has proven point by point that it is within the executive perview to issue a stop loss.

    Maybe you should get his book, and educate yourself about the issue before bloviating...

    here's a link:

    "Think I'm wrong? Pick up the phone tomorrow and call any constitutional law professor at an Ivy or otherwise reputable law school."

    Are you saying that no constitutional law professor would concur with Dr. Frank? I think you're full of shit. Elizabeth Hillman thinks it's perfectly constitutional, and she's a professor of constitutional law and a specialist on DADT having served in the military. How about Harvard Law, though? Do you think any constitutional law professors who specialize in DADT think it's unconstitional? I think you're full of shit.

    "I can assure you that you won't find a single person who will tell you that a president can just ignore a congressional order."

    Well, that's false. And demonstrably false. You have no argument. You have a false APPEAL TO AUTHORITY.

    "I know it's a shock, but you can't believe everything you read online."

    Obviously not, because you're full of shit. You don't understand constitutional law because you're not a constitutional law specialist nor a specialist on're basically just spouting an opinion, and backing it up with a false assertion that no constitutional law professor would back up the stop loss when that's just false. LOL! Educate yourself--you're ignorant.

    Posted by: TANK | Jan 27, 2010 11:15:15 PM

  24. I would give it maybe 8 out of 10. I particularly liked how he nailed down where the deficit actually came from, and how he shamed the Supreme Court right in their face for their stupidest decision in centuries. I thought it was telling that Obama mentioned no business by name, but his Republican counterpart did.

    However, frankly, based on last year, I don't believe any of it. I need to see action.

    Posted by: Randy | Jan 27, 2010 11:16:49 PM

  25. This is his best statement on DADT yet. Although the bar was admittedly very low, since all his previous statements as president has been ridiculously vague, insincere, and evasive. You can tell that's Robert Gibbs and Rahm Emmanuel talking. Obama probably didn't even read it before he started spouting it off the Tele-Prompter.

    Tonight was different and it shows.

    I think he spent more time polishing the speech than usual.

    He said DADT will be gone this year rather than after the mid-terms. He tied DADT directly to employment discrimination for the first time. Which is what he should have done from the beginning and did not do for some reason. It isn't some special policy initiative unique to the military; it is discrimination. And he used the word "repeal" instead of Gibbs and Rahm's preferred phrase "change."

    And now the bad...

    Obama has still not articulated a specific way to move the legislation forward. The most obvious route for DADT repeal is through the DOD authorization bill. But he clearly hasn't committed himself to that. He also needs to push the notion that many generals and admirals are fine with repeal. The homophobic top brass are always loud and abrasive, while the ones who do not fear change are largely silent. Obama has to change that by bringing out the war heroes. This will send McCain into a rage and help him push the notion that the Republicans are simply irrational bigots.

    Posted by: John | Jan 27, 2010 11:18:44 PM

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