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DADT Repeal – Will He or Won't He???

Ian S. Thompson,
Senior Legislative Advocate,
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January 26, 2010

With President Obama set to deliver his 2010 State of the Union address tomorrow night, rumors are swirling in Washington officialdom about whether or not the President will mention the policy known as Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT), which excludes gay men and lesbians from military service, in his speech, and if so, exactly what will be said. White House press secretary Robert Gibbs confirmed to The Advocate that the policy was at least being seriously considered for inclusion in the speech.

Advocates in the LGBT community have been rightly pressuring the administration for months now to live up to a campaign promise to repeal DADT. At a time when the U.S. is engaged in two active wars, it is simply mind-boggling to continue enforcing a discriminatory policy that has been used to remove over 13,000 otherwise qualified and committed men and women from their military service since 1994.

Earlier this month, reports circulated that Defense Secretary Gates and Joint Chiefs Chairman Mullen would be appearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee to offer their views on how to successfully repeal DADT. While this hearing has yet to be officially scheduled, perhaps that will change following Wednesday’s address to Congress.

While mentioning DADT in such a prominent and important speech would be a very welcome development from the administration, we need more than mere rhetoric. It’s time for some specifics, both from President Obama as well as our military leadership, both civilian and uniformed. There is no credible case that can continue to be made to justify DADT. Reiterating the call for repeal is good, particularly in such a prominent setting. Stating a specific time frame for the coming months (emphasis on months) with steps along the way would be even better. The tens of thousands of lesbian and gay service members who are currently forced to live a lie in order to defend their country are counting on their commander-in-chief to rise to this challenge. It’s time to serve DADT with a dishonorable discharge. Contact your members of Congress and tell them it’s time to end Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.