Hoping to avoid the mistakes of Bill Clinton, the Obama administration has told Pentagon officials that it intends to study the national-security implications and build Congressional support before it asks the military to overturn Don’t Ask-Don’t Tell, the policy that prevents gays and lesbians from openly serving in the armed forces. While Obama has not signaled a timetable on when it will overturn the bill, it was one of his campaign promises to do so and when asked if the President would overturn the bill Press Secretary Robert Gibbs answered a one-word reply of “Yes.” While gay bloggers are bemoaning that Obama is going “slowly”, our take on the latest news is that the President is moving ahead on the issue, but doing it in a deliberate, thorough way so as to defuse the issue.
The Boston Globe reports that the Obama administration recently met with Service Member’s Legal Defense Fund executive director Aubrey Sarvis about DADT:
“The Clinton experience makes a lot of folks [in the administration] apprehensive,” said Aubrey Sarvis, executive director of the Servicemembers Legal Defense Fund, which represents gay military personnel discharged under the current policy. Sarvis, an Army veteran who served in Vietnam, recently met with Obama advisers on the subject.
At the Pentagon, officials say they have been told not to expect the administration to seek to lift the ban quickly. One senior officer, speaking on the condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to speak to the press, said staff officers for Admiral Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, have been told it will be several months at the earliest – possibly not even this year – until the top brass will be formally asked to weigh in on a change in policy.
And even then, he said, the military has been assured it will have wide latitude to undertake a detailed study of how a change in the policy would affect the military.
Mullen told reporters earlier this month that he is aware of the president’s “intent to do this,” but “there are no more specifics with respect to when.” When the time comes, he said, he will give the president “my best military advice” on “the impact of what a potential change could be.”