Obama Backpedals on Repealing ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’

Sunday, March 29, 2009


One of the reasons I supported then-candidate Barack Obama in his quest for president was his promise to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” On January 21st, 2009, the day after the inaugural, I wrote if the President Obama backpedals on his campaign promise to repeal ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” then I could no longer support him.

Sadly, less than 100 days into his administration, it looks like that day has arrived.

The Associated Press reports:

During an appearance on “Fox News Sunday,” Defense Secretary Robert Gates said America shouldn’t expect changes anytime soon to the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy about gays serving openly in the military, as both he and President Obama have “a lot on our plates right now.”

As Gates puts it, “let’s push that one down the road a little bit.”

The White House has said Obama has begun consulting with Gates and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on how to lift the ban. But, Gates says the dialogue has not progressed very far at this point.

The Pentagon policy was put in place after President Bill Clinton tried to lift the ban on gay service members in 1993.

The policy refers to the military practice of not asking recruits their sexual orientation. In turn, service members are banned from saying they are gay or bisexual, engaging in homosexual activity or trying to marry a member of the same sex.

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40 Responses to Obama Backpedals on Repealing ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’

  1. Arizona Leatherneck says:

    As Gates puts it, “let’s push that one down the road a little bit.”

    To when? 2012? 2016? 2020?

    This is bullshit, man. Bullshit. Gay people have served in the U.S. military for decades. Trust me, I served with several of them. All DADT did was make it worse and criminalize men and women with sterling records. I’m fuming.

  2. Harry says:

    Obama just lost the energy, creativity and money from the gay community when he runs for reelection in 2012.

  3. retahyajyajav says:

    This is not good news.

    I’m trying to decide: does this mean Obama is more like Clinton or Bush II? Clinton went from blow job to coward in 2 years. Bush went went from a so-called compassionate conservative to war monger/dictator in 18 months.

    Obama has them both beat. Oh well, we were duped.

  4. Estacada says:

    Didn’t 104 military Generals lend their names to a report calling for DADT’s repeal?

    Why are Gates and Obama following the knuckle-headed course laid out by Billary?

    I am really angry at Obama for this.

  5. VicoDANIEL says:

    I’m angry too but, I can’t really say I’m surprised.

    You know, they say Social Security is the “third rail of American politics,” but I disagree. The third rail of American politics is gay rights and more precisely, gays in the military.

    I have decided we will see gay marriage before DADT is repealed. Politicians, especially politicians in the White House, are terrified to stand up to the military.

    Obama is no better than either Clinton or Bush.


  6. Brigadoon says:

    Candidates promise you the moon and the stars, or the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” but as soon as they get elected, they laugh at us and say “See sucka” and their car pulls away and they’re laughing at you in the rear view mirror. I’m done with Obama too.

  7. libhomo says:

    We should never trust any politician. We will have to fight Obama to get any progress on queer issues.

  8. Mauigirl says:

    What is it with these politicians that this is such a big deal to change? Why can’t he just do an executive order and say “make it so”? I just don’t get it. It’s not as if gay people haven’t already been serving in the military. I don’t understand why they can do 100 other things but this is such a problem they have to kick it down the road. I share your frustration and anger.

  9. It is amazing to me that as soon as people read this how quick they are to dismiss Obama and our current elected officials. Not once in the comments posted above did anyone say anything about calling the WH, their Senator or their Congressman to demand the repeal of DADT.

    We liberals are a bunch of wussies who don’t know how to band together. As soon as someone dissappoints our sensibilities we turn on them instead of walking up to the table and demanding a seat.

    Get off your ass and go and demand to be heard by your Senator, Congressman and yes your President. Instead of whining about how you are done with him and how he has disappointed you do something positive at least and make your voice heard.

    I am not in the least surprised that this is going to take a back burner. All one has to do is read the news to see just how bad things are. O cannot afford to rock the boat with DADT right now. It is politics.

    The difference this time around is that we helped to get this guy elected in a big way. So sitting around moaning about it will do nothing. Write letters, make phone calls and do something proactive.

  10. Scott Dancer says:

    I was afraid this day would come. But I bit my tongue and I avoided making any comment on the subject until we heard from Gates.

    President Obama is the Command in Chief, the leader of all four branches of the military. The term “commander-in-chief” derives from the Latin imperator. Imperatores of the Roman Republic and Roman Empire possessed imperium powers.

    If the Commander in Chief says “jump,” the military asks, “Sir, how high?” It is a legal statute and strictly obeyed.

    All Obama needs to say is, “It is my judgment as president, as well as the opinion of more than 100 retired generals and admirals who called for an end to “don’t ask, don’t tell,” in order to protect military readiness, that the military join the community of nations such as Israel, Britain, France, and Mexico, and repeal the policy. To this end, I am issuing an executive order immediately repealing “don’t ask, don’t tell.”

    Done; Period; End of discussion; No reports; No studies; No politics; No excuses.

  11. lea-lea says:

    Well, well. The more things “change,” the more they remain the same.

    We’ve been snookered, y’all.

  12. Woodcliffe says:

    Afghanistan is shaping up to be Obama’s war, just as Iraq was Bush’s war.

    I’m not buying the rhetoric that says the 4,000 additional troops for Afghanistan will only serve as military training personnel. Believe me, it’s 4,000 now, 4,000 in the fall, 4,000 next spring and another 15,000 by the end of 2010. When Obama sees the military is failing to meet their recruitment goals, suddenly gays and lesbians will look perfectly acceptable.

    Then I hope gay Americans tell him to fuck off.

  13. bradfrmphnx says:

    Its frustrating. Being told one thing and recieving another. I recieved an email everyday this week asking me for a donation for the Democrats.

    As I looked at the request I wondered about things like DADT, marijuana reform, and whether this president was going to really make a “change” for not only what is good, but for what is right.

    Sadly I see avenues of opportunity opening up for illegal aliens. I see the unions are getting their wishes granted. And I see the money circling the drain and winding up in AIG’s exec’s cesspits.

    Its still early. But I’m wondering WTF is up.

  14. MacDaddy says:

    I’m not ready to give up on Obama yet. But I do feel he needs to be pushed to keep his promise, On another but related note, Obama should never have kept Gates on. He’s too conservative, too slow to change the military in a lot of areas.

  15. Randy Arroyo says:

    The three biggest personnel mistakes Obama has made to date are: 1. Hillary Clinton, 2. Tim Geithner, and 3. Robert Gates. None of them in any way, shape or form represent change. What they represent is, the status quo. Obama is a bright man and I just shake my head in disbelief at how he could make such poor choices in these two men and one woman.

  16. Color me not surprised. I thought he would throw the gays under the bus in an obvious way pre-election (and he came close), but I guess the money and bodies were too important. I expect nothing. Easier that way.

  17. Jim says:

    All he has to do is issue the order. The world would keep spinning. Instead, this one the Obama administration has to mull over.

  18. two crows says:

    In 1948 Truman signed executive order 9981 abolishing segregation in the armed forces. It took until 1954 to make the order complete. In the interim, of course, there was a hue and cry that the military would be undermined.

    It didn’t happen.
    Although it took until 1963 — 15 years to the day after Truman’s original order, for Johnson to get down and dirty and decree that NO discrimination would be tolerated in the military, the armed forces did not fall apart.
    Now there is a hue and cry that the military will be undermined if gays are allowed to be honest about who they are.
    And, you know what? It won’t happen this time, either though the process will probably be just as long and painful as the last one was.
    I’m with Travelingman Rick. We need to get shrill with the folks who are supposed to be working for _us_– not the other way round.
    No politician ever did the right thing without the people kicking them where it hurts.

    We need to start kicking!

  19. Maithri says:

    I’m in agreement with what some of the commenters here have said.

    If everytime we were disappointed by a politician we used our energy to ‘act’ instead of bemoaning how we continue to be victimised, then i think we’d be ‘further down the road’.

    The Civil rights movement has and always will demand action. Not the incessant ‘beating our chests, woe is me’ attitude which I for one am frankly fed up with.

    Yes ‘Dont ask dont tell’ needs to be repealed. Not tommorrow. Today.

    So lets keep telling people why it needs to be on the agenda…

    Obama has done more for gay rights in the last couple of months than Bush did in years… So why not be empowered by whatever positive movement has occurred and fight on with dignity and strength.

    Peace, Maithri

  20. JollyRoger says:

    One of the things that bothered us mightily about Barack was that he was great for lofty platitudes, but pretty vague on exactly what the specifics would be.

    I wish he’d surprised me. So far, he hasn’t. About all we can hope for is that he gets himself straightened out.

  21. feminazi says:

    Christopher – I know how disappointed and angry you must be with Obama for this. I know how many times you cited Obama promising to repeal DADT as the reason you supported his candidacy. Politicians are cowards. I don’t understand why Obama can with a pen, reverse the ban on Federal dollars for stem cell research but he wimps out on DADT. It just makes no sense to me.

  22. Stephan Iversonn says:

    President Barack Obama in 70-odd days has accomplished a number of things that fall under the heading of laudable.

    In 70-odd days, he’s:

    1. started closing of Guantanamo Bay
    2. decided on a deadline on Iraq
    3. reversed Bush’s stem cell research ban
    4. banned torture by the US military
    5. ordered higher auto emissions standards
    6. upheld women’s ability to sue for fair pay

    Yet, when it comes down to ending a military policy involving gays and the military, he can’t find his cup or his balls.

    The gay community has every right to be angry with him over this.

  23. R.J. says:

    TravelingRick is right. This is one of those situations where people have to start writing to their Congressperson or Senator to get the ball rolling. Give them enough of a nudge and things should happen.

  24. I completely agree with Travellingman Rick. It seems that liberals are their own worst enemies.

  25. Brigadoon says:

    Science Clown – I really don’t need to be lectured to by a heterosexual. If you don’t understand the issue, I suggest you at least make the effort to become a bit informed before you flap you cakehole.

  26. bradfrmphnx says:

    Brigadoon…I understand that it is upsetting when someone not in your position is saying things they don’t understand. But really, calling or writing congressman and senators is a correct thing to do in order to initiate change. Although I’m sure that’s been done about a bazillion times with this issue.

    There are many heteros like myself who are not challenged or fearful of homosexuals. Truely I consider you my equal with a different sexual preferance….period. So I’m a little dismayed when you want to push us away. If you seperate yourself from our help, how can you say in the next breath…”we are the same and want the same things.” It just doesn’t make sense. If you would have said….

    scienceguy(not the name calling), I don’t need to be lectured. If you don’t understand…..

    There is a difference. If you want to be considered the same as heteros, then don’t distance yourself from us by saying we don’t understand. We do.

  27. J.D. says:

    As early as November, Obama’s camp hinted that there would be inaction on don’t-ask-don’t-tell.

    In January, Obama was backpeddling on taxing the wealthy and he was never the anti-war candidate some thought he would be.

    Prepare to be disappointed for the next few years.

  28. proudprogressive says:

    Indeed i agree with so much said but Jolly Roger hits it on the head – he had better get himself straight.

    Fine – continue to lose all arabic translators –

    and frankly fine with me, because i want our beautiful people around – not fighting in some rich man’s war for oil.

    The Buddha’s got blown up. There are religious extremists out there, yeah we get that , got em here too. and they are just as dangerous. We are JR’s Jesustani – no doubt. – i digress as usual.

    He Obama had better fuckin not back pedel on getting Congress to repeal DOMA. – that is the root of this horse shit. And the military had better learn to deal with its homophobia. The UK manages to handle the issue in their armed forces EXTREMELY well. And that includes the transgendered thank you very much.

    its not that hard for fuck sake. IF people would grow the fuck up.

  29. Harry says:

    Interesting how the straights are all circling their wagons to defend each other from attack by the big, bad gays. Get ’em, Brigadoon.

  30. JollyRoger says:

    Interesting how the straights are all circling their wagons to defend each other from attack by the big, bad gays. Get ‘em, Brigadoon.

    There are no “straights” or “gays” here, there are American citizens not being fully vested in the rights our Constitution guarantees them.

    As I’ve said before, who you love is irrelevant, and I wouldn’t give a damn if it WAS a choice. If you’re happy, and you aren’t hurting me, that’s all that matters. Period.

  31. Harry says:

    Jolly Roger, I wasn’t referring to you. You’re the exception to the rule.

  32. I’m a hetero-conservative, but I’ll write the White House, too. This bill is repulsive. I’m ashamed to admit that I didn’t know exactly what DADT meant, until tonight when I read the bill. It’s repulsive. This bill puts gays BACK INTO the closet. How can gays be expected to serve in the military but be silent? Heterosexuals can talk all they want about their lives and their families, but gays aren’t allowed to? I just don’t understand this. It sickens me that we, as a nation, say “we’ve come a long way” but have a bill which suffocates and punishes people emotionally and legally because of their sexuality.

  33. libhomo says:

    Writing the White House and Congress are good ideas, but that hardly means that people shouldn’t criticize the heterosexism of President Obama. The two aren’t mutually mutually exclusive.

  34. Fran says:

    A lot of things are getting pushed back…. how long it will take to close Gitmo (want to place bets on that one being extended again down the road??), getting out of Iraq… leaving behind 30-50,000 troops.

    Time to get out the torches & pitchforks…

  35. J.D. says:

    Jolly Roger, I wasn’t referring to you. You’re the exception to the rule.

    So the rule is that straight people fear “attack by the big, bad gays.”

    I would have to disagree. And stereotypes like that don’t help anything.

  36. proudprogressive says:

    What they need to fear are the people, the people however have good reason to fear their government – given how much of the Patriot Act is still and will continue to be in place. – hiyya NSA ! how y’all doing today ? heard any good jokes ….?

    What its time to do is wrench the system and stop paying insurance bills, student loans and your taxes. Thats what its time to do and in unison. What are they gonna do – ? one already gets a freakin anal probe just to rent an over priced garden apt. or even a job stocking groceries…money its all they understand.

    IF we don’t want war , if we want our tax money spent on social programs. and morally i.e. not on torture or keeping a disproportionate number of people of color in Jail – stop paying your taxes. stop paying and paying usary debt..the people need a class action – and its the ruling class vs. the rest of us. No one is immune

  37. I wasn’t trying to lecture. Basically, I am saying that we should give the guy some time. I think DADT is absolutely offensive. It should be stopped. That being said, I think that the man has a ton on his plate. He isn’t allmighty. People are already referring him to another Jimmy Carter: somebody who is trying to get everything done in their first year of the presidency. If they want to push it down the line, I don’t think people should automatically assume that he intends to forsake it all together. Seems like speculation at this point to me.

  38. RWR says:

    If you didn’t see this shit coming your too stupid to vote. Please just stay home in the next election.


  40. illuminismo says:

    I am really taken aback by some of the comments. How can American gay liberals look so much like their raging bigoted redneck counterparts?
    You don’t seem to notice how fortunate you are anyway, to live in a free country where politicians actually DO reply when you write to them.
    You should all come and live in Italy for a while, then you’d learn to appreciate what you have – the right to fight, and even win.
    I wish you luck, because any victory in the US will tomorrow become common sense in the rest of the so-called “western world”.
    PS: please don’t be racist on hets. Some of my best friends and BOTH of my parents are straight, and they can be great people. On the other hand, my brother-in-law’s gay and he’s an asshole – according to his wife, at least 🙂

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