Just three weeks ago, Defense Secretary Robert Gates acknowledged he and President Obama have talked about repealing Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, but they were going to “push that one down the road a little bit,” — as in, not address it in the immediate. Which explains why there was still money in the military’s budget for enforcing the policy. (Not only is DADT discriminatory, it costs taxpayers money!) Obama, while running for office, promised us he would repeal the policy, but has delivered radio silence on the issue since moving into the White House. Now, new words from Gates on the status of DADT.
Unfortunately, it’s more of the same. Calling the issue of gays in the military a “complex and difficult problem” [Ed: We’re argue gays are not a problem, but the military’s handling of them is] Gates once more defers to the commander-in-chief: “We will do what the president asks us to do.” Speaking yesterday at the Army War College in Pennsylvania, Gates said, “There is a law; we will uphold the law. If the law changes, so will our policies.”
But here’s the rub: Gates, and Obama, will argue that releasing the military from DADT is a cumbersome, intricate process. It reverses years of forced closeting, and our service members just aren’t mentally prepared for that. It’s a lot of work, they’ll say, to overnight swap in a new way of thinking. AND YET: Gates and Obama don’t have a problem uprooting other long-standing military policies.
For instance, the United States annually spends billions and billions of dollars developing sophisticated high-tech arms that never see a day of combat — and Obama and Gates have together slashed that methodology.
In fact, Gates was at Army War College yesterday to specifically address the cancellation of the $87 billion project called Future Combat System, a defense industry splurge on new tank and transport technology. “Obama has praised Gates’ decision to shift the Pentagon budget away from expensive weapons systems and more toward needs of existing conflicts,” relays McClatchy. Meanwhile, Gates is canceling other big budget spending, including new orders for F-22 fighters and C-17 cargo planes. Instead — get this! — he’s going to spend cash on “beefing up personnel and improving intelligence and surveillance capabilities.”
Huh. The military can perform an about face on how it spends billions of taxpayer dollars — which affects not just U.S. military strategy, but the jobs of tens of thousands of Americans working in the defense industry — but can’t dedicate the same immediate timetables to eliminating discrimination?
Gates yesterday compared repealing DADT to President Harry Truman’s push to racially integrate the military. Gates “said that process took five years after Truman signed a 1948 executive order.” Will he and Obama give themselves that long to right another injustice?
i predict it will take them just long enough until obama gets out of office/ loses the majority in congress and gains an excuse.
We need to start telling President Obama that if DADT isn’t repealed by 2012, he won’t have a fifth year in office. We may be only 5% of the population, but we’re an important part of Obama’s base. He can’t win reelection without our support.
Write Obama and tell him that you will stay home in 2012 if DADT is still on the books. If you donated to his campaign, mention this in your letter.
I’ve recently written both Obama and Gates about DADT. Not e-mail, but classic mail — well composed letters, envelopes, stamps. Everybody should.
It’s utterly unacceptable for them to stall on this, given broad public support and even strong support within the military, despite those moronic generals and the bs polls they quote.
And Rob, I fear he doesn’t count on us to win in 2012. There aren’t enough of us, especially since so many of us sit out election day. But absolutely, tell him you $’d during the ’08 campaign and will again if he drags us out from under the bus.
This doesn’t surprise me. Politicians say whatever they need to say to win the office of the presidency. Once in office for the first term they tend to play it safe hoping to get elected a second term. I don’t see Obama tackling an issue this controversial in his first term. I hope I’m wrong, but I don’t think I am.
@Rob: Even if Obama took five years, you’d instead prefer to help the Republican win in 2012 so it can take 8-12 years (Obama’s first term included), at the LEAST, before another Democrat is in office?
The silence from the administration all of the LGBT issues has been deafening. If we want rights, we need to force them to happen ourselves.
Obama didn’t need gays to win this time, and he won’t need them in 2012. Get real.
Like I said before, he has way more important issues on his plate to deal with. DADT is like number 1000.
Ugh, Obama doesnt care, he’ll be worst than Bill Clinton, at least Clinton didn’t actually have the backing of the people, Obama does on this issue, and still does nothing. BOOO
That’s essentially true. We need to have a big enough bloc of gay votes in enough swing states to do that. Florida is the only state I can think of where that could happen.
Obama is a man on a surf board. Sitting quietly. Waiting. As with all politicians. He will sit where he is, complacently, until that time when the tide of public opinion sets his surf board going with a wave.
In other words, he aint gonna do nothin for us until its politically undamaging to him. He’s gonna wait it out and see where our gay fortunes our taking us.
Ive always thought that Obama is either going to a be a silent passivist with our rights or worse, he’ll end up going with the majority because it helps him in the polls and sell us down the river, like Clinton did with DOMA
I forgot to add. Obama doesnt have the spine of Lyndon Johnson. Nor does any other politician now-a daze.
@afrolito: Obama can sign pro-gay legislation while dealing with other problems as well. There is always some “major” thing going on so telling gay people he can’t do anything on gay rights is an insult to our intelligence and humanity. We, gay people, are worth it.
slight correction here.
Legislation, by definition, means that it has to reach his desk first. No pro gay rights legislation has reached Obama’s desk.
“”Calling the issue of gays in the military a “complex and difficult problem””
Um, the White House just announced it was going to work on immigration reform. THAT was a problem so complex that there were revolts from BOTH sides of the aisle in congress, and yet “Don’a Ask, Don’t Tell” which around 75% of the nation thinks should be removed is too complex a problem to touch?!?!?!?! If you don’t touch a gay issue that 75% of the country supports you on, then what good for gays will you ever do?
@Michael W.: Look, we have an overwhelmingly Democratic Congress and a Democratic President. If they can’t give us what we want now, why should we keep voting for them?
As long as the Democrats think our votes are a sure thing, we are not going to get what we want at the Federal level. We need to start telling Democrats that we will not continue to support them if they don’t deliver on their promises. They have the power to deliver. They have no excuse.
We also need to be courting moderate Republicans. We should make it known that we’re willing to support Republicans who support our rights–both to get some Republican supporters and to get the Democrats scared.
agreed, somewhat. IF we can get more moderate New England Republicans like Susan Collins of Maine (who actually going to bat with Joe Liebermann on a gay civil rights issue), the Dems will run scared.
And Congress is as much of the problem, if not moreso.
Fine, Mr. Gates. Sign the order, then worry about the timetable. The decision keeps getting pushed off, and so does the timetable. It will never change that way.
Gay rights by peiemail is a failed process. It’s time to demand an omnibus bill so we can openly argue for our rights — and not be fighting this battle one right at a time for the next 50 years. We may not win all of our rights at the same time, but we’ll get a helluva lot more of them.
I want to say something positive, or at least placating, but I just don’t have it in me tonight. Politicians are such douchebags. If we don’t get a socially liberal justice or two on the SCOTUS out of this administration I’m leaving the country. As far as I can see that’s our only bastion of hope because the twats we keep electing don’t have the balls for it.
Its a cookie to dangle in front of us at election time, he’ll never repel cause if he does at the next election we might ask for something more outrageous, equal spousal rights.
@Puck: mmmm is it a nutter butter? I really like those!
If Obama doesn’t take a stand on gay marriage or DADT, simply don’t vote for him again.
The only purpose DADT serves it to perpetuate the very prejudice it indulges. Repeal should be a priority as it uses our tax dollars to teach discrimination.
But repeal has to come from congress. Obama can’t repeal it without them, so that is where we need to focus the energy. I beleive he will sign repeal if it gets to his desk. Yet we need to get him to support repeal more openly, and get him to tell Gates to get on board or get out.
@Chitown Kev: come on though, presidents propose and push for legislation they want all the time. If he does not lead, the congress will not. Pelosi is not going to risk rebellion from conservative dems, and harry reid is a bigot just like the rest. Only a clear moral stand from the presidential bully pulpit will bring this front and center. He could do it if he wanted, but he is too ‘busy’ and for those who suggest its either a republican homophobe or a democrat backstabber as our choices…that is bs. we can and should demand better. And reward true allies with time, money and votes.
@Ryan: you are right. the government selectively enforces all laws…why not selective non enforcement of DADT?
The Gay Numbers
@afrolito: So did Truman and Eisenhower when they desegregated the military based on race. One was in the middle of a globe reshaping itself arguably on an existential scale (as it was the begining of the cold war, and we were in the middle of fighting it). There is never a good time to end discrimination. Sadly, you stick Afro in your name, but know nothing about the meaning of your own history.
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