After all that haggling today among Gay Inc., the White House, legislators, and the Pentagon, the Obama administration announced it will support an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act that would repeal Don’t Ask Don’t Tell this year — but only after the Defense Department finishes its 10-month review.
In a letter Perer Orszag, director of the Office of Personnel and Management, writes Rep. Patrick Murphy, who’s leading the House’s effort to repeal the law, as well as Sens. Carl Levin and Joe Lieberman:
The move follows today’s administration sit-downs with the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, Servicemembers United, and the Human Rights Campaign, reportedly called at the request of the White House. And it is, without question, the White House’s most pronounced statement yet of not just “supporting” a repeal, but working to push it forward.
With Obama’s support, expect to see more vocal backing from Senate and Congress members, who previously may have been wary of crossing Team Obama.
And I think it’s also worth pointing out that we have reached this point because of the bold activism seen in recent weeks, where folks at groups like GetEQUAL showed America’s gay community to be wholly exhausted by the administration’s foot dragging. It was these actions, combined with behind the scenes work performed by SLDN and SU, that has us here — not the tired, old school and demonstratively ineffective strategy employed by HRC.
There is still much work to be done, including convincing lawmakers, getting the Pentagon to “conclude” the right things, and somehow incorporating the opinions of (straight) soldiers and their families into the policy.
That, and this very crucial — and some say asinine — stipulation: Getting Obama, Defense Secretary Robert Gates, and Joint Chiefs Chairmain Adm. Mike Mullen to sign off on the repeal effort — all criteria the White House is insisting upon for its support, and which you can expect to see in the NDAA, which is expected to be voted on this week. Yes, this effectively puts DADT’s final kill shot in the hands of the military. On the plus side, Gates and Mullen have already voiced their support for repeal. But the very notion that military leaders can now choose whether or not to keep discrimination on the books, even though your elected officials will vote to end it, is problematic to say the least..
But we can get there. And finally, Barack Obama has realized America’s LGBT community is a force he cannot stall and cannot ignore.