Ladies and gentleman, may we present the most visible evidence yet that President Obama not only understands what Don’t Ask Don’t Tell is, but how it affects gay servicemen and women.
Six days after Barack Obama was sworn into office, Second Lt. Sandy Tsao wrote him a letter — coming out as a lesbian. Like Obama, Taso is from the South Side of Chicago. Unlike Obama, she pledged her service to defending America by risking life and limb. But after serving some 15 months on active duty, Taso, a first-generation American, expects to receive an Article 15 honorable discharge because of homosexual conduct on May 19 (just like Dan Choi), after she agreed to publish her letter to Obama in Chicago’s gay Windy City Times newspaper.
Taso wrote Obama: “I am a Second Lieutenant currently serving in the United States Army. In addition to being an officer, I am a Christian, a woman and a Chinese-American. I am proud of all these identities. Lastly, I am also a homosexual. On December 21, 2007, I was appointed as an army officer. In the oath of office I swore that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic. Unfortunately, I will not be able to fulfill this oath because the current policy regarding sexual orientation contradicts my values as a moral human being.”
Obama, who reportedly reads a select 10 letters a day from Americans, responded with a short, handwritten note.
It reads: “Sandy– Thanks for your wonderful and thoughtful letter. It is because of outstanding Americans like you that I committed to changing our current policy. Although it will take some time to complete (partly because it needs Congressional action) I intend to fulfill my commitment!”
That Obama would personally respond to a gay officer’s letter says plenty unto itself. Tsao says she is “very hopeful,” adding, “I believe he is a man of his word. … My heart is bounding with joy.”
Reading between the lines, however, we see this: Obama says he’s “committed to changing” Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, which is not the same as “repealing.” That difference in wording is what got Obama into trouble when the White House website revamped the president’s Civil Rights section and replaced a promise to repeal DADT with a commitment to “changing Don’t Ask Don’t Tell in a sensible way.”
Also: A built-in excuse for not tackling the subject right away “because it needs Congressional action.” What else needs Congressional action? Bailing out Wall Street, but he got that done overnight.