Obama pledges to end “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”, repeal DOMA … sometime

posted at 12:00 pm on October 11, 2009 by Ed Morrissey

During the campaign, Barack Obama made a lot of promises to various constituencies of the Democratic Party, including the gay/lesbian lobby — and they’re agitating for some action on these pledges.  Obama insisted yesterday at a meeting of a gay-rights organization that he would end “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT) in the military and repeal the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), but the attendees could be excused a healthy amount of skepticism:

President Barack Obama pledged to end the ban on homosexuals serving openly in the military in a speech Saturday, but acknowledged to a cheering crowd that the policy changes he promised on the campaign trail are not coming as quickly as they expected.

“I will end ‘don’t ask-don’t tell,'” Obama said at the annual dinner of the Human Rights Campaign, a gay civil rights advocacy group. Obama reaffirmed his commitment to end the ban, but did not give a timetable or the specifics that some activists have called for. …

“We should not be punishing patriotic Americans who have stepped forward to serve the country,” Obama said. “We should be celebrating their willingness to step forward and show such courage … especially when we are fighting two wars. …

Obama also called on Congress to repeal the Defense Of Marriage Act, which limits how state, local and federal bodies can recognize partnerships and determine benefits. He also called for a law to extend benefits to domestic partners.

First, DOMA does not limit how states can recognize partnerships, as the AP writes.  States can pass whatever partnership laws they want.  What DOMA does is keep the federal government from forcing states to recognize the partnership laws of other states, bypassing the “full faith and credit” clause of the Constitution for marriage laws.  Congress enacted it when it became apparent that judges in state courts wanted to bypass legislatures and carve out legal civil marriages for gays through judicial activism.

Repealing DOMA would take some work.  Obama has to get both the House and Senate to pass a repeal of the law, which still remains popular.  If he wanted to do that, he would need to act rather quickly, as Democrats will likely lose a lot of ground in the midterms.  However, with the increasingly unpopular ObamaCare bill stalled in Congress, another unpopular cap-and-trade bill stuck as well, and 2009 running out of days, we’re not likely to see any attempt until at least 2011.  Democrats know a repeal attempt in an election year would be political suicide for the midterms — and after the midterms, they’re not likely to have the strength to pass it.

DADT is another matter entirely.  All it would take to end it is an executive order.  Obama is, after all, the Commander in Chief.  Obama wants Congress to take the heat for this as well, though, and has passed the buck on the issue since his first day in office.  What’s more, on this issue, Obama has it right.  DADT served a useful purpose in showing that gays can serve honorably in the military, but the time has come to end it.  Unfortunately for his cheering throngs at the HRC dinner, Obama doesn’t have the courage of his own convictions to take that step himself.

In other words, these sound an awful lot like his other promises — which Jim Geraghty reminds us always come with expiration dates.

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DADT is another matter entirely. All it would take to end it is an executive order.

Wrong. DADT is a law passed by Congress, and signed by President Clinton. Overturning it requires another law.

Greg Q on October 12, 2009 at 4:10 AM

Gays, Barry just isn’t that in to you.

wildcat84 on October 12, 2009 at 8:34 AM

The gay community can expect from Obama the same thing that Reagan gave the “Pro-Life” community .. lots of words backed up with nothing more that good intentions.

J_Crater on October 12, 2009 at 8:44 AM

Wrong. DADT is a law passed by Congress, and signed by President Clinton. Overturning it requires another law.

Greg Q on October 12, 2009 at 4:10 AM

Wrong. The president can issue an executive order to put a stop to it, see 10 USC ss 12305.

atlgal on October 12, 2009 at 8:47 AM

What DOMA does is keep the federal government from forcing states to recognize the partnership laws of other states

Soooo, that’s like powers not SPECIFICALLY granted to the federal government remain with the states and the people. WOW Barry expressing enumerated powers.
Wait a minute. This smells like Obooboo is in favor of states rights. That can’t be right. He’s an ubertransnationalist.
sign me waiting for the other shoe to fall…..

Blacksmith8 on October 12, 2009 at 11:10 AM

Let’s face it-Obama just doesn’t like the way you guys were reared.

MaiDee on October 12, 2009 at 11:44 AM

10 USC 12305 applies to reserve components and does not give him the power to suspend criteria for DADT except on a emergency basis as a matter of national security.
DADT actually allows gay members to serve, it does not deprive them of it. The term “Serving Openly” has no meaning because all members of the armed forces must preform their duties without any sexual undertones.
Sure, many gay men feel uncomfortable in the service, but that doesn’t come from a matter of policy set, it comes from the very fact that most people serving are in fact straight.

LeeSeneca on October 12, 2009 at 1:18 PM

LeeSeneca on October 12, 2009 at 1:18 PM

You seem knowledgeable on this. Do you know what actions exactly get one a discharge under DADT? I don’t.
Is it simply a matter of how one publicly identifies himself, or does he have to be caught doing preforming a banned act?

Count to 10 on October 12, 2009 at 1:58 PM

10 USC 12305 applies to reserve components and does not give him the power to suspend criteria for DADT except on a emergency basis as a matter of national security.
LeeSeneca on October 12, 2009 at 1:18 PM

A paper I read (by some outfit in California) stated the president could use the cite above by claiming retention of members of the military, and suspension of any law requiring their separation, is essential to the national security of the US. This paper also went on to state that
legislative action would still be necessary to permanently remove the law……

atlgal on October 12, 2009 at 2:28 PM

Some things that “reasonable” moderates don’t think about:
Once you allow open homosexuality in the service, how should the military:
1) Accomodate cross-dressers? If a dude wants to wear a female uniform, would he be able to cry discrimination?
2) What if someone objects to “gender-specific” showers, restrooms and berthing areas?
3) How about pre-and post-operative trannies? If a GI can get a shrink to call his desire to have a penis-ectomy required for his mental health, does the military (taxpayer) pay for it?
4) What if a he-she wants to join, or someone in already decides to become a he-she? Is this not disturbing to military recruitment, retention and morale? Would we not become the freaks in any foreign country that we may occupy?
5) How about gay marriage in the military?
6) What happens when men with life and death power over other men abuse that position for gay sex? Refusal to comply can mean getting nominated to walk point in a minefield. Turning you gay commander in will just get you accused of homophobia, which can get you courtmartialed in the brave new world.

The sort of idiots that aren’t actually socialists who voted for Obama or who support removing DADT don’t ever think of the above issues. We need to ask them about it whenever they accuse us of being narrow-minded or hateful.

Spartacus on October 12, 2009 at 4:39 PM

My only military experience was nine years in the Army Reserve, but during boot camp, weekend drills and two-week summer “camp” assignments, I showered with other women far more often than I ever did as a kid in gym class. As I recall, we all looked everywhere but at each other.

Since such communal showers weren’t part of my daily life during the other 50 or so weeks of the year, they were pretty darn uncomfortable for me (and, based on the other women’s comments, for them as well). And that was assuming that the other gals weren’t ogling me! I’d have been even less comfortable if I had been aware of any sexual interest on anyone’s part — as uncomfortable as if guys had been in there with us. Sorry, gay folks, but that’s the way this gal sees it.

KyMouse on October 12, 2009 at 5:02 PM

Spartacus on October 12, 2009 at 4:39 PM

You make some interesting points. Here’s my take on your points in a line-by-line response:
1) Since women in the military already dress like men (much to some patriotic women’s displeasure), this won’t be a problem. The female BDU’s/ACU’s/NWU’s/etc. look exactly like the male’s. Camo doesn’t change with sex.
2) Not sure how they could argue against “gender specific” areas. Unless they want to lobby their congressman/woman to carve out a uni-sex berthing area on a ship, they would kind of have to make due with the fact that men live with other men and women live with other women.
3) Question: Have you ever had to deal with Tri-Care?
4) He-She would have to decide which set of P.T. standards they’d want to abide by before deciding which sex they’d want to be in the military. Also, they would have to take their “fragile” minds to boot camp. The military doesn’t just take everybody, only people who have proven themselves capable of undergoing rigorous training. If he-she can make it through Marine/Army/Navy/Air Force boot camp, then maybe they are tougher than you give them credit for.
5) What about gay marriage? It isn’t legal yet so why worry about it? If it is legal, then so what? The law is the law.
6) A service member is under no obligation to follow an unlawful order. Also, pressuring your subordinates for ANY kind of sex is “sexual harassment” and a very good way to get yourself kicked out of the military. Whenever men do it to women, then there is all sorts of hell to pay. I have no doubt that the standards would be applied equally if POTUS repeals DADT.

I think you do have some valid concerns, however, the military is a professional fighting force and they can deal with whatever comes their way.


Rightwingguy on October 12, 2009 at 5:15 PM

KyMouse on October 12, 2009 at 5:02 PM

You’ve got me on the communal showering thing. I’ve only had to do that one a few very select occasions in my life (none of them comfortable), but I think for the most part the military has moved away from communal showers and allows much more privacy. When I stayed at the BEQ barracks in Naval Station San Diego where it was suite-style with a shared bathroom, I was able to shower in privacy.

Rightwingguy on October 12, 2009 at 5:20 PM

The problem is, if Obama get’s his way, it will no longer be a professional fighting force. It will be an affirmative action community service/jobs force.

And don’t pretend, mr. rightwingguy, that for every fag or freak to go in that there will not be a dozen ACLU lawyers in the wings ready to sue to take everything to the extreme.
The military brass is already overly concerned about not hurting the feelings of the “womyn”, the permanantly aggrieved minority classes, mulsims in the military probably get away with murder (in the case of some “fraggers” and parachute packers, they are literally getting away with it), now they will have to worry about lawsuits and complaints about gays because someone called someone else a “Sissyboy” on an obsticle course.

We need to stop letting the tiny % of freaks in our society call the shots for us all.

Spartacus on October 12, 2009 at 6:32 PM

Spartacus on October 12, 2009 at 6:32 PM

Well there will always be cases of ACLU lawyers and carrion feeders who seek out conflict where there is none. I’m not arguing against that. Simply look all over the civilian world for numerous examples.

My point is that despite what manufactured outrage some may produce, the military has and always will be adaptable to whatever obstacles they may face. No one joins the military for n easy time. Everyone knows that struggle and difficulties come with the job.

I’m not sure where you have gotten the idea that the military contains discontent people who use their jobs as parachute packers to kill other service members. Nor am I aware of any nefarious “fraggers” silent stalking our guys at home or abroad. That’s not to say they don’t exist, I just am not aware of any cases outside of that one time in Kuwait at the start of the second Gulf War. While nutcases do exist in the military (primarily in the Marine Corps…j/k), the fact is that nut cases exist everywhere and some do in fact get into the military.

You seem to be awfully set on how these theoretical recruits can’t hack it in the military. The thing is if they can’t hack it in boot, OCS, the academies, or ROTC, then they probably won’t show up in the military. Those who serve have to have a resiliency that transcends feeling a little hurt about being called a stupid name.

Rightwingguy on October 12, 2009 at 9:55 PM

The problem is, if Obama get’s his way, it will no longer be a professional fighting force. It will be an affirmative action community service/jobs force.

To address that I’ll just quote an old phrase: “Tell it to the Marines”.

Rest assured that no matter what, the USMC will never become anything less than our enemy’s worst nightmare.

Rightwingguy on October 12, 2009 at 10:00 PM

The Marines will become what Obama wants them to become. You are deluded if you think otherwise. Barak will promote loser liberal officers, and chase out patriots. Accusations of homophobia will be treated as court-martial offenses, false accusations will be “whoopsie” events. It would be irrational to ignore the effect of this and the bottom-feeding liberal lawyers on military morale.

There have been two fragging events that I know of, both by muslims. One was done by the beltway sniper in the first gulf war, and when they hauled him out of theater, the guys thought he was done. But they cut him loose, and see what happened. There was also an incident where some marine parachutes were packed with cut strings. The story went silent.

Drill instructors will be required to take it easy on fags just as they are “discouraged” from demanding the best from women and minorities (can’t have a disproportionate number of blacks, women or homos getting cut).

Spartacus on October 13, 2009 at 8:50 AM