President-Elect Barack Obama may not be delaying his reversal of “Don’t Ask-Don’t Tell” after all.
After last week’s news that the incoming administration would delay til 2010 to remove the policy responsible for thousands of gay and lesbian soldiers to be discharged from service, an anonymous source within the Obama camp tells the Washington Blade that no decision has been made either way, saying, “These decisions will not be made before the full national security team is in place.”
In other words, it’s not that Obama has decided to put off “Don’t Ask-Don’t Tell”, it’s that he’s put off deciding.
There’s real concern that the only people who are really serious about repealing the policy are gays and lesbians and that in the focus on the economy, a repeal will get moved to the back burner. Gay and lesbian former members of the armed forces are particularly wary:
“Retired Army Col. Stewart Bornhoft, who is gay and a former commander in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, said changing the law would require both “passion and preparation.”
“Clearly, the passion for change is there,” he said. “But it requires proper preparation for the [Defense Department] to declare that they can implement open service successfully.”
However, Bornhoft said repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” should be attainable in the next Congress.
“Whether that’s the first or second half of that period should be determined by the progress within the Pentagon’s thinking rather than an arbitrary calendar date,” he said.
Heather Sarver, a lesbian and former Russian linguist for the Air Force who was discharged under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” in 2003, said she understands “the need to build support” for legislation repealing the law, but said “everyone who cares about this issue should hold specific members of Congress accountable for their support of the bill.”
“What I fear is that Democrats have stated that they support repealing [the ban] in order to appease their gay constituents and to say they support gay issues without being in support of gay marriage,” she said. “If they are sincere, then they will schedule meetings with other members of Congress and garner their support for repeal.”
Sarver said if lawmakers do not work on building support, their opposition to “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” in the election will be seen as “nothing more than a political chess move.”