The White House insisted yesterday that officials are working to overturn a policy that bans gays and lesbians from serving openly in the military, pushing back against Pentagon assessments that such efforts were low priorities and Democratic activists' complaint of slow progress. White House spokesman Robert Gibbs told reporters that President Barack Obama is committed to reversing the Clinton-era policy of "Don't ask/Don't tell." Congress would have to take action to change the policy. "Try as one may, a president can't simply whisk away standing law of the United States of America," Gibbs said. "But if you're going to change the policy, if it is the law of the land, you have to do it through an act of Congress."
Well yes, and no. There is still a lot the President can do on his own. The administration has drawn criticism from gay and lesbian activists for not moving quickly enough to repeal the policy. I have to agree. But now there ares some signs that he is doing something.
Earlier in the week Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell said the military has no plans to repeal the policy and that the White House had not asked for the 1993 policy to be scrapped.
Two days later, Gibbs said Morrell had backed off that position; Morrell released a statement hours later doing just that. "President Obama has been clear in his direction to Secretary (Robert) Gates and (Joint Chiefs) Chairman (Mike) Mullen that he is committed to repeal the 'Don't ask/Don't tell' policy. He has also been clear that he is committed to do it in a way that is least disruptive to our troops, especially given that they have been simultaneously waging two wars for six years now," Morrell said.
I'm not saying we should wait and see, but I will take a deep breath. In the mean time, have you told your senators and your congressperson how you feel? Have you sent a message to Mr. Obama? We can help move things along if we speak up!