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A Time for Strong Leadership

Last night President Obama said, “This year, I will work with Congress and our military to finally repeal the law that denies gay Americans the right to serve the country they love because of who they are.” We welcome the news, and are encouraged by the President’s historic announcement in a State of the Union.

As noted in today’s LA Times, the military is beginning to consider ways to allow open service:

Within the military, there have been signals that the services would be more receptive to a shift than they were in 1993. Articles in military publications have cast doubt on the argument that "unit cohesion" would suffer if gays were allowed to serve openly. Gates and Adm. Michael G. Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, have begun to examine how to implement a change. They have told military audiences to expect a change in the policy.

The fight for open service is about to get much more intense. Hysteria from repeal opponents is sure to get louder. We need all pro-repeal voices out there writing letters to their newspapers, local blog posts, and calling into radio stations – not only making the case to end this law, but for the President to end this law THIS YEAR through his defense budget. Call the White House switchboard at 202-456-1414.

By Paul DeMiglio, Senior Communications Manager |


Comments for this entry are closed.

Isabell James on January 30, 2010 at 05.55 pm


Thank you for posting this and encouraging individuals to reach out.  Now is the time for us to force the President to keep his word and urge Congress to cooperate.

I sent the following to President Obama:

January 28, 2010
Dear President Obama,

Thank you; I am once again hopeful.  You have given yourself, and us, a timeline regarding Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT).  Tonight in your State of the Union address you said, “This year.”

Wow.  Your words and commitment to this cause have brought our family renewed hope and faith. “This year!”  Life could change for Josephine (my active duty partner) and I, sometime over the next 337 days.  I will now look forward to a night of good sleep when I am no longer living in a state of heightened anticipation.

Valerie Jarnett, one of your senior advisors, was just on the Rachel Maddow show.  She reassured us that repeal is something you intend to accomplish, with an action plan being generated in the coming days and weeks.  Jo and I, and the LGBTQ community anxiously await this much anticipated announcement; the repeal of DADT will bring us out of hiding and enable us to live like other military families, encouraged by the supportive America you asked for tonight.

My partner simply wants to serve her country without fear. I would like to openly support her beyond the confines of our home.  Mr. President, as you said, “It’s the right thing to do.”

Thank you for your word and for keeping your promise to repeal this unconscionable and unconstitutional policy.  I look forward to change in the next 337 days.

Sincerely hopeful,

Isabell James, Partner of a lesbian service member

Andy Smith in Orange County, CA on January 29, 2010 at 01.09 am

Great post Bill!  I thought the same thing when I saw the reaction of the Joint Chiefs, although I’m sure they were “sitting at attention” so as not to signal their feelings one way or another.  That is the military way and they do have to please Congress in order to get their budget passed. 

This will require an Executive Order for sure.  I know he’s feeling pressure from the GLBT groups to do what he promised, but it takes more than platitudes.  Having conversations and “giving it some time” is Washingtonspeak for dragging it out until the proponents become distracted or lose energy.  Witness the “cooling off” for health care reform…

Please continue to support the great work of SLDN.  If you haven’t attended the National Dinner, please make plans to do so.  It is truly a classy, fun and empowering evening - among the best gay events I’ve ever attended!

Bill on January 28, 2010 at 07.13 pm

Ending DADT is like dealing with the Gordian knot.  It cannot be unraveled, it must be cut.  Obama, even in his State of the Union Address did not make it clear that he is commander of the Armed Services, not Chairman of the Board, or Consultant.  In effect, he still “hopes” to effect change, but does not have the courage to issue orders.  Given the dour, hands-in-lap posture, of the Joint Chief of Staff when Obama said that he would “work with Congress and our military to finally repeal the law that denies gay Americans the right to serve the country they love because of who they are,” it is clear that nothing will happen in 2010 unless Obama takes charge and quietly, but without ambiguity, orders his subordinates to both prepare for and request of Congress the end of DADT.  The Joint Chiefs are old men who, we can assume, are homophobes by upbringing, experience, and nature.  They are probably out of touch with their junior officers and enlisted persons who are at least 70% indifferent to sexual orientation among military peers.  Also, the rule in the military is “don’t rock the boat.”  There is enough for the old men to manage with their two wars and their requirement to rebuild our worn out and out-of-date military.  They simply wish that the DADT issue would evaporate.  My guess is that, except for the Marine commander who I understand is a Luddite, most of the Joint Chiefs really don’t care one way or another about the DADT issue.  Should they have a gay family member, they would be probably be accepting, even to the point of having their family member become a solder, sailor, etc.  But they don’t want the hassle.  Certainly it is true that were DADT to end today, there would be some turmoil.  It would be severe in units with homophobic commanders not loyal to their senior chains of command.  But, as clearly demonstrated in almost all of our NATO allied armed forces which already have ended their own DADT’s, the day after the end, almost nothing would change.  Excellent service persons would continue their work.  The LGBT’s among them would say nothing new, although their peers might say “we knew it all along” and “who gives a damn.”  Mr. President, do what is right.  End DADT now.