Calls for Repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” -When Will the President Act?

Mar 2, 2009 8:16pm

From Sunlen Miller and Teddy Davis:

Amid reinvigorated calls to repeal "Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell" this week, the White House says that President Obama is speaking to the Defense Department so that changes that can be made to the controversial policy.

Rep. Ellen Tauscher (D- California) again today announced her proposal to repeal "Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell" – the ban on gay soldiers serving openly in the military.

In a speech at the Center for American Progress Tauscher called on the Defense Department to review the policy – which she says hasn’t worked and has impended military readiness -and introduced her own bill, The Military Readiness Enhancement Act.

"This bill will once and for all end the discriminatory practices of the Department of Defense and men and women who have been administratively discharged would be allowed to have the opportunity to serve again if they want," Tauscher said, "There is no evidence to support a continued ban on open service, and every reason to allow lesbian and gay Americans to serve our country."

President Obama, while campaigning in the presidential election, said that "Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell" was something that needs repealing. Today, the White House said that this is still something that Obama supports "changing"– although gave no timetable for when they would take up the legislation.

"The President supports changing Don’t Ask Don’t Tell," White House spokesman Tommy Vietor said in a paper statement, "As part of a long standing pledge, he has also begun consulting closely with Secretary Gates and Chairman Mullen so that this change is done in a sensible way that strengthens our armed forces and our national security."

Advocates of repealing "Don’t ask, Don’t tell" are hoping to get rid of the policy when Congress takes up next year’s defense authorization bill in April – and pushing for President Obama to act quickly.

"If the president supports repeal, he needs to be out there pretty soon, framing the issue and not letting the opposition frame the issue," said Aubrey Sarvis, executive director of the Servicemembers Legal Defense Fund, which represents gay military personnel discharged under the current policy.

-Sunlen Miller and Teddy Davis

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