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Eye Opener: Gay groups mobilize for 'don't ask' repeal

By Ed O'Keefe

Eye Opener

Happy Thursday! Gay rights groups on Wednesday plan to launch a nationwide campaign to repeal the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy following President Obama's call for a repeal during Wednesday's State of the Union address.

"This year, I will work with Congress and our military to finally repeal the law that denies gay Americans the right to serve the country they love because of who they are," Obama said.

In response, the Human Rights Campaign will launch its “Voices of Honor” campaign on Wednesday, with plans to mobilize veterans and build campaigns in states with lawmakers that will be critical to final votes on a repeal in the House and Senate.

“The Commander in Chief sent a clear message tonight that in a time of war, what matters is that our men and women get the job done -- not whether they’re gay or straight,” HRC President Joe Solmonese said Wednesday night.

"Our country simply cannot afford this discriminatory law that hurts military readiness by denying patriotic men and women the opportunity to serve," Solmonese said.

A report released Tuesday estimated that 66,000 gay, lesbian and bisexual people are serving in the U.S. military, roughly 2 percent of all military personnel.

The president's statement was just one line in a 71-minute speech. It didn't set a timeline and Obama didn't commit to suspending the dismissal of gay men and lesbians. Last night's pledge echoes similar statements at least three times last year and during his presidential campaign.

Obama called for the repeal amid a growing chorus of support from across the political spectrum. A June Gallup survey found a majority of liberals and Democrats support a repeal, as do 58 percent of conservatives and 60 percent of weekly churchgoers.

Despite growing support, House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) said Wednesday, “When it comes to ‘don’t ask, don’t tell,’ frankly, I think it’s worked very well and we just ought to leave it alone.”

Retired Gen. John Shalikashvili, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, also weighed in on Wednesday by reiterating support for a repeal.

“As a nation built on the principal of equality, we should recognize and welcome change that will build a stronger more cohesive military,” Shalikashvili said. “It is time to repeal ’don’t ask, don’t tell’ and allow our military leaders to create policy that holds our service members to a single standard of conduct and discipline.”

Shalikashvili served as chairman of the Joint Chiefs when the policy was enacted under Clinton and then supported the ban.

Gay rights leaders had mixed reviews for the president's comments.

"While we know the State of the Union speech aims to present broad visions, the next time President Obama speaks to or about our community he must provide a concrete blueprint for his leadership and action moving forward," said Rea Carey, executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. "This includes his willingness to stop the discharges happening on his watch until Congress can fulfill its responsibility to overturn the law."

Nathaniel Frank, a senior research fellow at the the University of California-Santa Barbara’s Palm Center and the author of a book on gays in the military, agreed with Carey.

“The fact is the president has the authority to halt discharges with executive power and he’s chosen not to, instead making himself vulnerable to growing obstructionism by his opponents,” he said. "This is not health care. There is no mystery about how to do this: just stop firing gay troops."

The veterans group AMVETS said it cannot support a repeal of the policy until the nation's leaders better define the legal parameters of same sex partnerships and marriages. The group said the distribution of benefits to service members and their families, child care, military housing and joint duty assignments could all be complicated without clear definitions.

"By allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly without considering these issues sets those affected by a new policy up for failure," said AMVETS National Commander Duane J. Miskulin.

Leave your thoughts in the comments section below

In other news...

Cabinet and Staff News: HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan served "designated survivor" duty during last night's State of the Union address. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton says she'll push for international support for Iran sanctions. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and Attorney General Eric Holder host a national summit on health care fraud today. Current Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and former Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson grilled by lawmakers on what they knew about AIG payments. Cyber Czar Howard Schmidt has his first White House meeting. U.S. Ambassador to Haiti Kenneth Merten on continuing unrest in Haiti. White House Counterterrorism Adviser John Brennan pushes back against lawmakers critical of the government's response to the Ft. Hood shootings. Defense Secretary Robert Gates, Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, National Security Advisor James Jones and Undersecretary of State Ellen Tauscher attend a secret Capitol Hill meeting to begin a push for major export control reform. Biana Golodryga, fiancee to OMB Director Peter R. Orszag, will keep her ABC News business reporting beat. FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski recalls his relatives killed at the Auschwitz concentration camp. Consumer advocates surprised by Obama's pick for food safety chief.

FAA cites progress in improving commuter airline safety: The agency said those improvements stem in part from closer government oversight of pilot training and from moves by carriers to better identify and track weak pilots.

Fed holds rates at record low to aid recovery: The board's statement sketched a mixed picture of the economy. Pointing to weakness, it noted that bank lending is contracting. And it dropped a reference in its previous statement to an improving housing market.

Officials plan to expand federal hiring despite spending freeze: The budget freeze proposed by boss-in-chief Barack Obama isn't likely to cost federal workers their jobs, in fact federal employment probably will continue to grow.

Reaction to Obama freeze proposal comes with caveats: Lawmakers want to see the full proposal before casting opinions.

Bid protests skyrocket: The number of contract protests filed with the Government Accountability Office soared in 2009, according to a new report.

Critics pan release of government information: Transparency advocates and good government groups rendered a mixed verdict on the Obama administration’s release of hundreds of sets of government data, arguing many federal agencies chose to release obscure or outdated facts and figures at the expense of long-standing requests for more relevant, sensitive information.

Bloomberg wants terror trial moved: For the first time, the New York mayor joins a growing chorus of people who believe the epic trial will be too disruptive and expensive for the city.

N.Y. federal prosecutors pursue foreign cases aggressively: Advocates say that using the long arm of American law to apprehend international figures whose crimes involve the United States might be the only way to attack an increasingly sophisticated global criminal threat.

OPM to get help digitizing personnel records: Stanley Inc. will be hired for a five-year, $18.4 million deal.

SEC tells companies to disclose climate risks: There's been a lot of talk about climate change and the impact various legislative proposals might have on companies. Now the agency wants companies to tell investors about it too.

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By Ed O'Keefe  | January 28, 2010; 6:00 AM ET
Categories:  Eye Opener, Workplace Issues  
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Next: Obama's food safety pick surprises consumer advocates


The only problem with doing away with the "don't ask, don't tell" policy is housing. If Obama is going to push to do away with it, then he must also see to funding for separate housing for heterosexual troops and homosexual troops. There would be outrage if heterosexual female soldiers were made to permanently share barracks and showers with heterosexual men (who might enjoy the view or take liberties). Is there no right to personal modesty in this country?

Posted by: Georgetowner1 | January 28, 2010 7:16 AM | Report abuse

Regardless of what initiative or support from the Whitehouse..the military establishment and the thousands of those who serve will never accept an openly gay individual within their ranks.

The culture of the least within the military I know would fight this initiative totally...and the end result would be almost a universal "no vote" for Obama in the next election regardless of he does on other really more important issues confronting America.

Posted by: LTC-11A | January 28, 2010 7:33 AM | Report abuse

If they get rid of don't ask, don't tell, they're going to need to look very carefully at the issue of what to do about transvestites. Will a genetically-male soldier be allowed to wear female clothes because he, like Shania Twain, "feels like woman"? Or how about a genetically-male soldier who has been surgically altered to resemble a woman but who has a voice like an NFL linebacker? And there would be female-to-male equivalents to both, from the other direction. All it would take would be one such individual to complete disrupt life in a military unit, and it could end in a hazing incident with some poor soul getting killed. That is where a line needs to be drawn, and I hope that we don't have a Guantanamo-like exercise here where a policy gets set forth before it is thought out all the way through.

But as for "normal" gays, lesbians and bisexuals, sure, they've been in the military all along since the founding of the Republic, and it's about time that they get to serve without fear or harassment.

Posted by: ripvanwinkleincollege | January 28, 2010 7:35 AM | Report abuse

First this idiot tried to destroy the healthcare system, and now he's trying to destroy the military.

Posted by: civilemik | January 28, 2010 7:50 AM | Report abuse

Anybody who has watched the movies "Deliverance" and "Saving Private Ryan" knows that this is the wrong thing to do to the warriors we've requested to wage war for the country.

Posted by: AForgottenMan | January 28, 2010 8:11 AM | Report abuse

Homosexuality is a filthy, disease-ridden practice explicitly condemned by God.

Posted by: tjhall1 | January 28, 2010 8:14 AM | Report abuse

This was politically driven to appease a small special interest groups without consideration of the residual effects. If this is one of his biggest priorities in the coming year, we are all in real trouble.

Posted by: G2A2K | January 28, 2010 8:38 AM | Report abuse

If this in fact moves forward then the Service Chiefs have no choice but to resign in mass.

If obama persists then he should be impeached for moral corruption.

Posted by: KBlit | January 28, 2010 8:44 AM | Report abuse

Daft Right Wing Military Generals (and personnel): please do us a big effing favor and resign in mass. Then the 12 of you can go write your memoirs.

Posted by: medogsbstfrnd | January 28, 2010 8:57 AM | Report abuse

Homosexuality is a filthy, disease-ridden practice explicitly condemned by God.

Posted by: tjhall1 | January 28, 2010 9:27 AM | Report abuse

Clearly, Obama has pi$$ed off the bigoted right-wing nut jobs out there, so he must be doing something right.

To the moron who said this will "destroy the military", it obviously won't, but why is that such a bad thing? What gains have we as a country gotten from having a huge bloated military in the last 50 years? That's right, free education and healthcare for those who volunteer. That's it. Seems like we could do away with the guns and bombs altogether and use the money to give EVERY American free education and healthcare.

It's a very sensible idea to rid ourselves of several of this country's problems in one fell swoop. So naturally, you will never hear any politician dare to utter it.

Posted by: financepirate | January 28, 2010 10:47 AM | Report abuse

The "homosexuals open in the military" is the same devious democrat logic as "Iraq took our eyes off the ball....the war of necessity is Afghanistan".....

They did not want to win in Afghanistan, they wanted to have a talking point to deflect their true run away.

The left hates the US Military....they know what putting openly homosexual types in the military would do to destroy it....they do not care about serving...they care about a way to hurt the US Military like they sought a way to hurt the war in Iraq...

They lie.....

Posted by: georgedixon | January 28, 2010 10:54 AM | Report abuse

I really couldn't care less about this. The old policy (not all that different from DADT) kept me from being drafted and sent to Vietnam to kill and die.

The most important issue is ENDA. And Barry and his congress show precious little interest in passing it.

Posted by: cllrdr | January 28, 2010 10:55 AM | Report abuse

If Obama feels so strongly about this position, Why doesn't he just sign an executive order? Is'nt that what Harry Truman did when he signed Executive Order 9981.

The problem with Obama is he does not have the guts just make this happen.

Posted by: mike83631 | January 28, 2010 11:04 AM | Report abuse

It's funny to hear from the military folk on this comment board, because the military folk I work with regale me of tales of holding the shower bucket for female soldiers when out in the field. Apparantly your sex drive drops when you're being shot at, and then you learn to handle mature situations like an adult.

Right to modesty! LOL! You're PROPERTY of the US Gov't, buddy!

Posted by: Terrorfied | January 28, 2010 11:15 AM | Report abuse

Kblit: "treason for moral corruption"! LMAO! And Bible-thumpers/Tjhall! ROFL!

Thanks guys, I needed a good laugh this morning!

Posted by: Terrorfied | January 28, 2010 11:24 AM | Report abuse

Imagine Barney Frank

Inna Tank

Shortly you'd hear a curse....

"OMG this f*#king tank does not match my purse!!"

Posted by: georgedixon | January 28, 2010 11:26 AM | Report abuse

About time. DADT is pointless and discriminatory.

Posted by: moonwatcher13 | January 28, 2010 11:31 AM | Report abuse

Your president tried to include a little bit of something for everyone on the left including his own crowd, the progressives, which now clearly understand that his socialist/republic busting agenda is still in and cap & trade are safe and sound in the hands of the enemies of our Republic...America.

Gays get their piece of the pie and the Supreme Court justices get villified in front of a group of demo/socio czars that form Obama's shadow government. Excuse, what a horse's butt.

Hoosier republic senator Lugar is just okay with this. WE THE PEOPLE of Indiana already have "Bye, Bye, Bayh" but we have to wait on Dickie poo a few more years.

Posted by: MikeKonkel | January 28, 2010 11:33 AM | Report abuse


Shove god up your @ss.

Posted by: tomstaph | January 28, 2010 12:16 PM | Report abuse

Let's be realistic here: there are LGBT people right now in the armed services. Right now, they have the right to serve as long as they don't come out. Here are two issues to consider regarding that: 1) We are forcing soldiers to lie about who they are while participating in an institution that claims to value honor and truth; 2) The people who are removed under DADT are often discovered because a former boyfriend/girlfriend turns them in, or they refuse to engage in "straight" behavior, raising suspicions among their perpetually horny friends. Why aren't we just expecting these adult men and women, straight and gay, to act like adults and have proper respect for each other and the corps? Or is that too much to expect?

As for tjhall1, your God and my God must be different. Mine is loving, kind and compassionate. Yours sounds downright nasty.

Posted by: clwaldmann | January 28, 2010 12:29 PM | Report abuse

Homosexuality is a filthy, disease-ridden practice explicitly condemned by God.

Posted by: tjmlrc | January 28, 2010 12:35 PM | Report abuse

brothers and sisters of this persuasion why do u not mobilize and join up. always can use more boots on the ground in iraq/afghan. do not tell if the muslim loonies get u. aclu and the like avoid these situations

Posted by: pofinpa | January 28, 2010 12:48 PM | Report abuse

Howard Schmidt is destined to become Obama's next Czar Wreck:

Posted by: EliotNess-DC | January 28, 2010 12:48 PM | Report abuse

Homosexuality is a filthy, disease-ridden practice explicitly condemned by God.

Posted by: tjhall1 | January 28, 2010 1:05 PM | Report abuse

Did you notice the lack of applause from the military brass present when Obama announced his plan to make them more fairy friendly?

Posted by: eldergent | January 28, 2010 1:06 PM | Report abuse


Hope you die of AIDs.

Posted by: tjhall1 | January 28, 2010 1:07 PM | Report abuse

I love it. You can just about see the heads of the Republigoons on this board explode.

GAY, GAY, GAY!! Hoorah!

Posted by: B-rod | January 28, 2010 2:14 PM | Report abuse

Belief that there is a god is a filthy, brain-numbing disease explicitly condemned by those with an actual working brain.

Posted by: B-rod | January 28, 2010 2:16 PM | Report abuse

The Congress and the White House are full of gays and lesbians so why not populate the military likewise? Homosexuals are no different than heterosexuals, some are bad and others are worse.

Posted by: usnret742w4 | January 28, 2010 7:59 PM | Report abuse

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