It’s not a definitive statement. But at this point, it might as well be one, at least for the time begin.
While campaigning for America’s highest office, Barack Obama told prospective voters he would, without a doubt, repeal the discriminatory policy we know as Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. His assertiveness on the subject was profound; his no-nonsense approach, so appealing.
Gays continued rallying behind a person they expected to begin getting the government to treat them equally when, before Obama’s inauguration, Press Secretary Robert Gibbs took questions on the administration’s s transition website. The answer to whether the incoming president would repeal DADT? “You don’t hear politicians give a one-word answer much,” he wrote. “But it’s ‘Yes’.”
Fast forward to March, when Defense Secretary (and Bush administration holdover) Robert Gates backtracked on his new boss’ stances; Gates said the repeal would happen “down the road” because “that dialogue [to repeal DADT] though has not progressed very far.” Huh. That didn’t sound like the imminent repeal Obama had us thinking about.
And for the definitive “WE JUST GOT FUCKED” moment? When Obama’s National Security Adviser General James Jones said “I don’t know.” As in: I don’t know if DADT will be repealed.
Why doesn’t Obama just suspend investigations of gays in the military? That’s the “stroke of the pen” tactic DADT opponents say Obama could do right now, while getting Congress to repeal the code. Says Jones: “Welp, maybe that’s an option that eventually we’ll get to, but we’re not there now.”
Jones’ statement, and his bullshitting through a response, is not an accident. He is not speaking out of turn. He was appearing on This Week With George Stephanopoulos representing his office. And it can only be inferred — because that’s how these things work — that his words are part of a coordinated backpedaling on Obama’s campaign promise.
The position Obama’s top officials have taken are a mere one degree shy of Obama completely reneging on his guarantee to the gay community and the military. And does anyone find it shameful that Obama himself won’t address this issue, and is letting his military officials spread the word?
John McCain also stopped by Stephanopoulos’ show to answer the same question. McCain’s stance? He wants a “thorough review” from the Joint Chiefs of Staff on repealing the policy. i.e.? “I’m a giant coward.”
The Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, which represents a number of gay service members — including Dan Choi, who you’ll be hearing from on Queerty very shortly — has this message for Obama: “SLDN had hoped this president would offer leadership, not give in to some throw away study or commission. The right approach would be a presidential working group that focuses solely on implementation and reports back to the president with recommendations within 90 days.”