Old joke: How can you tell if a politician is lying? His lips are moving. A questioner at the MTV town hall meeting yesterday asked President Obama why he doesn’t use executive orders to end the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy unilaterally. The president responded, “Congress explicitly passed a law that took away the power of the executive branch to end this policy unilaterally. So this is not a situation in which with the stroke of a pen I can simply end the policy unilaterally. … I can’t simply ignore laws that are out there.” And that, is simply not true.
Aaron Belkin, (an Obama supporter) and the director of the research institute, The Palm Center - which has long studied sexual minorities in the military and the “don’t ask, don’t Tell” policy, has posted a report to The Advocate that shows the president’s words are NOT accurate. While it’s true that Congress enacted “don’t ask, don’t tell” into law in 1993, there are in fact two different ways in which the president could use executive authority to protect gay troops. The president could simply have decided not to appeal the recent federal court case that ruled the discriminatory policy as being unconstitutional (sadly Obama’s DOJ has already indicated they will appeal the decision). And the president could also use the power of executive authority to specifically stop the discharges of gay soldiers. Congress long ago enacted a law, 10 U.S.C. § 12305, which grants the president a military “stop-loss” authority during any period of national emergency. As America continues to be engaged in two wars, we are still in such a period, and that means that President Obama does have the unilateral authority to suspend involuntary discharges through “don’t ask, don’t tell.” But President Obama not only refuses to do so, he even denies his rightful ability as president to be able to do so. The president later tweeted that DADT would end on his watch. Which is an odd bit of double talk since DADT was recently ended by court order and ruled unconstitutional - but the president is appealing the decision. Not to mention in the midst of all this White House foot-dragging nearly 500 gay and lesbian soldiers have seen their military careers ruined by "don't ask, don't tell" just in the last year - all under Obama's watch!