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Obama's 'long view' on gays in the military

President Obama's Rolling Stone interview was a treasure trove of insights and information from the man growing grayer by the day in the Oval Office. There's something in it for everyone, including lots on foreign policy and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. But the last thing I want to highlight from it is Obama's comments on ending the ban on gay men and lesbians serving openly in the military.

"[O]ne of the things that I constantly want to counsel my friends is to keep the long view in mind," the president said. "On social issues, something like 'don't ask, don't tell.' Here, I've got the Secretary of Defense and the Joint Chiefs of Staff both committed to changing the policy. That's a big deal."

Understandably, this isn't enough for many in the gay community. The shameful policy needs to end. But it needs to be done right. And here Obama makes a point that won't satisfy anyone who wants the demise of the prohibition without delay, but should show that progress is being made where none was being made before he came into office.

Now, I am also the commander in chief of an armed forces that is in the midst of one war and wrapping up another one. So I don't think it's too much to ask, to say "Let's do this in an orderly way" -- to ensure, by the way, that gays and lesbians who are serving honorably in our armed forces aren't subject to harassment and bullying and a whole bunch of other stuff once we implement the policy. I use that as an example because on each of these areas, even those where we did not get some grand legislative victory, we have made progress. We have moved in the right direction.

Folks who want the end of don't ask don't tell might not even care about the "orderly way" Obama has pursued. All they want is for the policy to end. And for that the man on the hot seat is not Obama, Defense Secretary Robert Gates or Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. It's Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.). He failed to get it passed out of the Senate and onto the president's desk for signature last week. He better get it done in the lame duck session.

By Jonathan Capehart  | September 28, 2010; 5:31 PM ET
Categories:  Capehart  | Tags:  Jonathan Capehart  
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I am reminded of the civil rights movement of the 50's and 60's, and the frequent refrain that integration should proceed in an orderly fashion. No. DADT is a clear injustice. We do not need to be gradual about ending this shameful policy.

Posted by: jwzich | September 28, 2010 6:33 PM | Report abuse

President Obama does have the ability to immediately order a stop to all investigations. That would go a long way to appease those demanding immediate action.

Posted by: msmith371 | September 28, 2010 6:49 PM | Report abuse

The fact is that DADT could be repealed immediately with barely a ripple. President Obama is delaying for political reasons. Once again, gays are the political football with each side using them to further their political goals.

Posted by: syfredrick | September 28, 2010 7:03 PM | Report abuse

an executive order repealing it, or stopping any discharges while Congress sorts it out would have put Obama on the spot instead of conveniently letting senate democrats take the heat. he would have shared the heat with them. Instead he, and the DoD with their "studies", are taking the chicken way out. (which is a slight to chickens.) That "study" translates to the Joint Chiefs of Staff waiting out the Mid-term elections.

If you're in command, do so. That goes for the President and Sec. Gates.

Posted by: bill_delgrosso | September 28, 2010 7:23 PM | Report abuse

Yes, yes, yes - President Obama is a keen intellectual, a plotter and a planner extraordinaire. And I'm sure the long view is the safest view by far. I mean, once the oceans rise and Australia is reduced to a string of atols; once tectonic plates shift and North America slides under South America; once humanity dies and gray squirrels rise as the planet's new sentient species; once the sun goes supernova - once all this happens, I'm sure the president may consider - as a distant possibility, of course, he may consider accelerating his schedule for the reasonable and timely repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell.

Of course, as David Axelrod will tell you in a heartbeat - especially if there has been some unfortunate happy news for the LGBT community, the president has never approved of same-sex marriage.

Posted by: seabelly1 | September 28, 2010 9:17 PM | Report abuse

I'm sure here will be problems if DADT ends. But hopefully this will result in the courts martial of the trouble makers. A few years in leavenworth and a dishonorable discharge will send a hell of a message.

And the President as commander in chief can simply dismiss any officer he has reason to dismiss. Call it "McChrystaling". He trashed a top General for his big mouth and insubordination. He can do the same with others.

Or must the out campaign target gay troops. think of what would happen if a thousand gay troops a month started coming out and demanded release under DADT.

Or most of the half of the Army Nurse corp that I have on good info, is gay.

Force their hand. Nothing to lose.

Posted by: n6621j | September 29, 2010 12:47 AM | Report abuse

If Jonathan believes the ludicrous spin about repeal of DADT passing in the lame-duck session, he is a naive fool. But not to worry; he will swallow whatever new talking point the Obama crew hands him then too. Useless.

Posted by: uh_huhh | September 29, 2010 4:03 AM | Report abuse

Obama has never had one day of military service. His lawyers fight tooth and nail to hide his background while they steam roll a decorated veteran who dared to ask for 5 minutes of proof that Obama is elgible to be Commander in Chief. 5 minutes to show a REAL birth certificate but Obama uses our tax dollars to fight these suits. He strings along gays with promises to end DADT but then sends his lawyers in to fight every move to abolish it just as he fought against gay marriage. Time for the gay coummunity to wake up...YOU'VE BEEN HAD !!!

Posted by: JUNGLEJIM123 | September 29, 2010 6:47 AM | Report abuse

Why in hades does the Post spend so much money on a full time, gay, gay issues reporter and so much ink on the whimpering and whining of the 1.5% of the population who suffer from sexual dysfunction issues? In their jihad against the military and traditional families, this 1.5% (half of whom are HIV carriers according to a recent government report) has corrupted the judiciary, the media, social welfare agencies, and now wants to corrupt the military.

Enough is enough. Gays do your thingy in private and live long and happy lives but don't turn the world upside down looking to justify abnormal behavior.

Posted by: Lazarus40 | September 29, 2010 10:19 AM | Report abuse


Regarding “Don’t ask ... Don’t tell”, Mr. Capehart states, “The shameful policy needs to end.” Shame, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. Many Americans would claim that the shame lies with homosexuals not with those who support policies defending what, until recently, have been historically accepted, Judeo-Christian and Islamic values.

Let’s be clear. Theologically, the Bible in Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13 is specific and explicit . . . homosexuality is an abomination. Even many not so religiously inclined regard homosexuality as a revolting perversion. The opponents of open homosexuality will not be swayed by unsupported claims that homosexuality is just an alternative lifestyle. Mr. Capehart may claim that it is. Maybe, he’s even correct, but he offers no support for his claim nor for the military allowing it.

There is an alternative point of view to the ideological . . . the scientific. Perhaps, instead of emotionally-laden polemics, we might give rational discussion based upon science a chance (

Posted by: mossgr | September 29, 2010 10:59 AM | Report abuse

Late Show With David Letterman

* Rahm Emanuel is leaving the White House. Is he really quitting or just pulling a Leno?

* President Obama has written a children’s book. Why not? He’s got nothing else on his plate.

* Obama’s book is called “The One-Term Engine That Could.”

Posted by: adamnescot1 | September 29, 2010 6:27 PM | Report abuse

Please excuse my ignorance here.

But could not the President issue an Executive Order to permit this?

Posted by: kenskorupski | September 30, 2010 9:46 AM | Report abuse

....all I need to know is that our military requires a certain group to live a lie before it allows them the honor of dying for their country.

Posted by: wp121606 | September 30, 2010 11:40 AM | Report abuse

.....and Leviticus is the guy who said that people who have physical disabilities are "unclean" and should not be allowed to approach the altar. Oh yes.....and have you stoned to death any fortune tellers lately?

Posted by: wp121606 | September 30, 2010 11:45 AM | Report abuse

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