President Obama and top Pentagon officials met repeatedly over the past year about repealing “don’t ask, don’t tell,” the law that bans openly gay members of the military.
But it was in Oval Office strategy sessions to review court cases challenging the ban — ones that could reach the Supreme Court — that Mr. Obama faced the fact that if he did not change the policy, his administration would be forced to defend publicly the constitutionality of a law he had long opposed.
As a participant recounted one of the sessions, Mr. Obama told Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, that the law was “just wrong.” Mr. Obama told them, the participant said, that he had delayed acting on repeal because the military was stretched in two wars and he did not want another polarizing debate in 2009 to distract from his health care fight.
But in 2010, he told them, this would be a priority. He got no objections.
On Tuesday, in the first Congressional hearing on the issue in 17 years, Mr. Gates and Admiral Mullen will unveil the Pentagon’s initial plans for carrying out a repeal, which requires an act of Congress. Gay rights leaders say they expect Mr. Gates to announce in the interim that the Defense Department will not take action to discharge service members whose sexual orientation is revealed by third parties or jilted partners, one of the most onerous aspects of the law. Pentagon officials had no comment.
Gay rights groups are calling the hearing historic even as they question how quickly the administration is prepared to act. But Republicans are already signaling that they are not eager to take up the issue.
I hope that our friends in these gay rights groups start to understand that the president was actually working on repealing the ban on gays in the military almost non-stop since taking office, meeting "repeatedly" with top Pentagon officials, in addition to talking about the wars the previous president started.
Maybe, just maybe, there’s more involved in being President of the United States than viewing everything through the lenses of one issue?
The ban should be repealed, and I hope it is soon.
I’m near the end of Frank Schaeffer’s Patience with God: Faith for People Who Don’t Like Religion (or Atheism). Schaeffer’s son John is a United States Marine. Near the end of the book, Frank writes a very compelling and stirring account of the boot camp process where one becomes a Marine. I was moved today as I read it, while walking on a treadmill for two miles. I plan on finding Schaeffer’s Keeping Faith: A Father-Son Story About Love and the U.S. Marine Corps.
When I was a child (to paraphrase St. Paul), I did not trust the military. Now that I am a man, I have an incredible respect for those who serve this country in uniform. Some liberals really go overboard slamming the military, and they should not. These men and women learn to move beyond preoccupation with the self. They think of the other, the platoon, the United States of America, before they think of themselves. Those in uniform are worthy of our respect and support.
Gays and lesbians are more than capable of serving openly, thinking of others first, the platoon, the United States of America, before they think of themselves. Gay and lesbian soldiers serve openly in the military of other countries every day.
Gay and lesbian soldiers have been serving the United States of America in the military for centuries. Let them finally and proudly serve openly.