President Barack Obama told the largest U.S. gay-rights group that he’ll work with Congress and the Pentagon to end the policy that forbids openly gay men and women from serving in the military.Not exactly my favored position, though if it opens the door for federal recognition of same-sex marriages in pro-SSM states as "civil unions" under the law federally, I could get behind that.
“I will end ‘don’t ask, don’t tell,’” Obama said in an address last night to at the Human Rights Campaign national dinner. “That’s my commitment to you.”
The president gave no timetable for acting and said he realized many in the audience “don’t believe progress has come fast enough.” He said they would look back at his time in office and be able to say that “we put a stop against discrimination whether in the office or in the battlefield.”
Obama spoke the night before the National Equality March, which may draw thousands of people to the National Mall in Washington demanding “equal protection for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in all matters governed by civil law in all 50 states,” according to the Web site for the event.
Obama promised during his presidential campaign to support equal rights for gays and lesbians, including ending the policy on gays in the military. As a Democratic senator from Illinois, he supported legislation expanding health benefits to same-sex partners of federal employees. He supports civil unions for gays, though not same-sex marriages.
“Many of us had hung our hats on major legislation including repealing ‘don’t ask, don’t tell,’ and we recognize those are heavy lifts, but the president had very powerful and strong rhetoric during the campaign and we think his administration has really been uneven,” Darlene Nipper, 44, deputy executive director of the Washington-based National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, said before the speech.Well, Mr. President, there's a bit of a problem. The progressives out there are a wee bit more skeptical than they used to be. You see, promises are all well and good—but promises aren't enough for them. They want to see results. They want to see policy. They want to see legislation on the table. They want a commitment, one that says "while I may be the President of all of America, I'm going to recognize the beliefs of those that made me President in the first place". They want to know that you're on their side, and that must include ending the ridiculous farce that is DADT.
Nipper said the gay and lesbian community “expects concrete policy changes, including the repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act and an executive order to stop the inappropriate release of gays and lesbians from the military.”
In his speech, Obama said progress will be made.
“Do not doubt the direction we are heading and the destination we will reach,” he said.
The president also said that there’s not “a single issue” his administration deals with “that does not touch on the lives” of the lesbian and gay community, citing his efforts to revive the economy, pass health-care legislation and manage the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
In June Obama signed a presidential memorandum allowing domestic partners of civil service employees to be added to the long-term care insurance program and allowing employees to use sick leave to take care of domestic partners and adopted children.
Don't tarry, Barry.