Activists held a closed-door meeting in Washington on Wednesday to discuss strategy for repealing the discriminatory “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy. Pentagon lawyers recently announced once again that they feel “Now is not the time” to repeal DADT. Yet some activists at the meeting were enthusiastic that the repeal may yet happen because many in the room had “been guaranteed that this is a priority for the president.” Others were less optimistic and made note that there is no individual power broker in the White House who’s consistently pulling for LGBT issues, and in any case, “There’s an awful lot of distance between something a president says and actually making it come to light.” For their part, Democratic leaders seemed to hedge their bets on the possibility of inserting the repeal into this year’s defense authorization. “It would be reasonable to expect that repeal might be in this year’s defense authorization… But we aren’t assuming anything yet.” The Servicemember Legal Defense Network recently printed an open letter to Obama in the newspaper Roll Call urging a repeal effort be inserted into the defense budget: “The time is now. Not next year or the second term. To delay another year is to stand aside and okay the daily firing of service members merely because they are gay.” SLDN’s Executive Director, Aubrey Sarvis, pledged that more ads will follow and that they intend to mount a longer, broader, campaign to push the administration’s hand.
On a personal note, as a gay man and a veteran of the Armed Services, I continue to believe that all citizens, both gay and straight, should be allowed to serve in the military and face the risks as well as receive the benefits of service. But I can’t help but take note that of all the important LGBT equality issues that President Obama has ignored, the only issue where we have even a modicum of wavering support from him, is one that involves gay men and women volunteering to fight and possibly die to defend a country that continues to deny us our equality. (Photo: AGuyNamedWayne on field training excercises in the U.S. Army)