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.
| September 28, 2010; 5:31 PM ET
Categories: Capehart | Tags: Jonathan Capehart
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