Network News

X My Profile
View More Activity
Posted at 9:03 PM ET, 01/25/2011

State of the Union 2011: Obama says 'don't ask, don't tell' to formally end this year

By Ed O'Keefe

President Obama vowed Tuesday to formally end the ban on gays in the military this year, offering the most details yet on how quickly the military plans to end "don't ask, don't tell."

"Starting this year, no American will be forbidden from serving the country they love because of who they love," Obama said. "And with that change, I call on all of our college campuses to open their doors to our military recruiters and the ROTC. It is time to leave behind the divisive battles of the past. It is time to move forward as one nation."

Several of the nation's top colleges and universities, including Harvard, Columbia and Stanford, have blocked military recruiters from using campus buildings and offices, but have said they would eventually provide full access once the military ends its "don't ask, don't tell" policy.

"This has been a difference of principle that I think no one has wanted, but it has been a longstanding and very difficult matter," Columbia University President Lee Bollinger said in an interview last year. "If it were resolved with the elimination of 'don't ask, don't tell,' there would be an enormous feeling of gratitude and openness, more openness to the relations with the military."

Bollinger, who also sits on the board of The Washington Post Co., did warn, however, that allowing ROTC recruiters back on campus might take some time. "It would have to go through a process and people would have to discuss it. It's not just a matter where the president can order this to happen," he said.

Obama signed legislation ending the 17-year gay ban in December, formally beginning a process that requires the Pentagon to train commanders, military chaplains and the 2.2 million troops about the change in policy before certification by the president, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen.

Gates this month said the Pentagon was moving quickly, but warned, "There's just a certain element of physics" associated with training so many active-duty and reserve troops.

Obama's vow also brings the issue of gays in the military full circle: He pledged during last year's address to end the ban in 2010, and gay rights groups said Tuesday night's pronouncement is the culmination of a promise kept.

"Not only does repeal mean troops will be treated with the dignity and respect they deserve, but our nation will be stronger with the best and brightest able to serve in uniform," said Joe Solomonese, president of the Human Rights Campaign, which aggressively lobbied for repeal.

Leave your thoughts in the comments section below

By Ed O'Keefe  | January 25, 2011; 9:03 PM ET
Categories:  Military  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: State of the Union: Ken Salazar to serve as 'designated survivor'
Next: State of the Union 2011: Obama calls for reorganization of federal agencies


See a tag cloud of Obama's 2011 State of the Union Address:

And see how it compares to the 2010 State of the Union Address

Posted by: robparisblog | January 25, 2011 10:15 PM | Report abuse

Post a Comment

We encourage users to analyze, comment on and even challenge's articles, blogs, reviews and multimedia features.

User reviews and comments that include profanity or personal attacks or other inappropriate comments or material will be removed from the site. Additionally, entries that are unsigned or contain "signatures" by someone other than the actual author will be removed. Finally, we will take steps to block users who violate any of our posting standards, terms of use or privacy policies or any other policies governing this site. Please review the full rules governing commentaries and discussions.

characters remaining

RSS Feed
Subscribe to The Post

© 2011 The Washington Post Company