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Obama joins gay rights groups to discuss 'don't ask, don't tell'

By Ed O'Keefe

Updated and Corrected
President Obama met briefly on Tuesday with gay rights groups pushing to repeal the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy, according to people familiar with the White House meeting.

The groups were at the White House to discuss a legislative repeal of the law with senior Obama administration officials. The president stopped by the meeting "to directly convey to the participants his personal commitment on this issue," a senior official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

President Obama is opposed to the ban on openly gay men and lesbians serving in the military, and he wants Congress to repeal the law through legislation.

Those invited to the White House were representatives of the Center for American Progress, the Human Rights Campaign, Servicemembers United, the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, the University of California Santa Barbara's Palm Center, Third Way, Stonewall Democrats and the Log Cabin Republicans, according to meeting participants.

They met with White House Deputy Chief of Staff Jim Messina, senior adviser Valerie Jarrett and other officials. Participants would not discuss details of the exchange.

The Log Cabin Republicans are the plaintiff in a federal court case challenging "don't ask, don't tell." The Center for American Progress and the Palm Center have studied the impact of gays in the military, and both support repealing the law. The other groups are pushing for repeal or represent servicemembers impacted by the policy.

The meeting took place as the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit considers whether the Pentagon can continue to enforce "don't ask, don't tell" or must stop doing so while the government appeals a federal judge's ruling that the policy is unconstitutional.

White House senior adviser David Axelrod defended the administration's decision to appeal the case during an online video chat Tuesday. "It is the custom of the U.S. government to appeal laws of Congress that were challenged in lower courts," Axelrod said during the chat, arranged by the White House. "It should be by no means read as an abandonment of a commitment, and we intend to keep it."

"Our desire and our hope and the president's commitment is that he will work to see [a repeal] pass," White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said Tuesday.

But it's still unclear whether Congress will take up the issue this year, in a lame-duck session after next week's elections.

The repeal is contained in the annual defense authorization bill, currently before the Senate, and Democratic efforts to beat back a threatened Republican filibuster could prove difficult if the GOP wins races in Delaware, Illinois or West Virginia, states currently represented by Democrats and where laws require new senators to take office immediately. Some moderate Republicans have signaled support for repealing the ban but could be swayed by GOP party leaders.

"Certainly, the only way we can move to the bill is to change some of those minds," Gibbs said.

Washington Post staff writer Anne E. Kornblut and online political producer Matt DeLong contributed to this report.

This item was corrected Oct. 27 to include Third Way as a participant in the White House meeting.

By Ed O'Keefe  | October 26, 2010; 8:06 PM ET
Categories:  Military  
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Hey, guys and gals, I've got your back. Just make sure I get reelected in 2012, and I promise I'll bring you all out of the closet. I may even come out with you! Hey! That was a joke, okay? I know I haven't exactly kept my promise to you, but hey, I was too busy dealing with the ENEMY! You know, the REPUBLICANS! Now, that's a group that can't stand queers, er, I mean, gay people, well, anyway, I've got your back. Just remember who I am! Barack Obama! Make sure you spell that correctly when you write in my name. Oh, yeah, that's two years away. Well, anyway, I've got your back, and I promise... I promise. Hey! I gotta leave. Nancy and Harry are texting me about... Oh, man! I don't want to go down there! They don't like people of color! Anyway, that woman not going to win anything. She didn't support me anyway. Hey, just remember who I am now.

Posted by: georges2 | October 26, 2010 8:49 PM | Report abuse

Where's the rush to be 'chuted in to the Hindu Kush?

Posted by: phvr38 | October 26, 2010 8:54 PM | Report abuse

The Prophet will have to consult with Bill on that. It takes a DADT to have a sugar DADT.

Posted by: peterroach | October 26, 2010 8:56 PM | Report abuse

I really wish the press would stop using the phrase "President Obama is opposed to the ban" and start using "President Obama claims to be opposed to the ban" as his words are not backed up by his actions.

Posted by: PNWMainah | October 26, 2010 9:03 PM | Report abuse


How about giving it a week?

You have Obama's commitment, repeatedly stated. Is it so hard to understand that if the Dems lose their majorities that all our leverage will be lost?

The election will be over very soon.

Please vote!


Posted by: watt | October 26, 2010 9:23 PM | Report abuse

Mark Kirk is going to win Illinois, an instant pickup for the GOP. There is going to be no repeal of DADT in the lame duck session.

Posted by: screwjob22 | October 26, 2010 9:25 PM | Report abuse

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Posted by: dfhjadfjsdf | October 26, 2010 9:57 PM | Report abuse

I'm sorry, I'm not buying what Obama is saying. In fact I'm furious. His words are encouraging, but they're just words. I want to see ACTION to repeal this discriminatory and unconstitutional policy. Obama is playing games with the gay community.

Posted by: Steven15 | October 26, 2010 10:21 PM | Report abuse

Obama sold out the GLBTQ community and apparently thinks this group is also too stupid to notice. He supports the Defense of Marriage Act and CHOSE to have DOJ appeal the injunction against DODT. He's trying to work both sides of the aisle by selling out the civil liberties of the GLBTQ community.

Don't buy it! 2 years in and he has done absolutely nothing!

Posted by: samwoods77 | October 26, 2010 10:23 PM | Report abuse

Hey! All right! I'll tell you the truth! I could care less about gay rights! Did any gay people help me when I was growing up a mixed race kid with a crazy white mother? Huh? Did they? No, I did it all by myself. The only person I'm interested in is myself. Do you hear me? I'm brilliant! I was the smartest kid in Hawaii and Indonesia! They all thought, who is this silly looking kind of black kid? Well, I told them I was going to amount to something and I did and it's not my fault the stupid people in this country can't see how brilliant I am. I have the answers! I HAVE THE ANSWERS! I know what's best for this country. I don't like people who cross me! I don't! Vote for me in 2012! You'll regret it if you don't! I'm going to make this country right! I'm going to give away everyone's money so everyone has the same amount of money in the bank. People will worship me! That's what I want!

Posted by: georges2 | October 26, 2010 10:34 PM | Report abuse

John Aravosis at Americablog has shot down the myth that a President and his DOJ is obligated to defend laws that they disagree with when challenged in the courts. Ted Olsen and the National Law Journal have also pointed out this lie by Obama and Gibbs. Please read up on this issue and report the full facts behind this issue.

Posted by: djonan | October 26, 2010 10:35 PM | Report abuse

Nobody's buying this load any more. Enough hypocrisy. Obama can't keep thinking LGBT folks have any respect for him any more. He will have to earn respect by acting like he cares even a tiny bit about our rights, and his own integrity. He has been tone deaf, and dead wrong on these issues for too long. I'm over whatever he has to say until I see concrete action and results.

Posted by: LK2008 | October 26, 2010 10:36 PM | Report abuse

I want the so-called 'GAY COMMUNITY' stomped into the ground. Not a FAKE patty-cake 'stomp' like that WITCH from Move-On so RICHLY DESERVED but DIDN'T GET from the TEA Party but an HONEST-TO-GOD tooth-spitting STOMP, a yee-haw jaw breaker received at the TMJ.

Back into your closets, Freaks.


Posted by: notinde | October 26, 2010 11:33 PM | Report abuse

Wow, look at all the racist gay people spewing all their lies and misinformation, saying that Obama has done nothing for the gay community. You people are so wrong and far off it's not even worth it to care about you anymore. I'm sick to death of you drama queens.

Posted by: MariaInDC | October 26, 2010 11:52 PM | Report abuse

Homosexuals love the military like a cancer loves the female breast. It will feed off it as long as the host survives, and for a time will bask in the accolades, but ultimately the cancer will gladly follow the host into the domain of death, as this does not require a change of address for it.

Posted by: GoldenEagles | October 30, 2010 7:31 PM | Report abuse

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