Would he or wouldn't he? He did – and he didn't

Would President Barack Obama address the issue of the military’s anti-gay “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy when he delivered his first state of the union address tonight? And if he did, how far would he go?

Those were the questions national LGBT activists were asking in the days leading up to the president’s speech tonight. The answers? Yes — and no.

The man who during his campaign described himself as a “fierce advocate” of the LGBT community tonight once again called on Congress to repeal DADT. But he didn’t say anything about suspending discharges under the policy until it can be repealed. And he didn’t set any deadline for addressing the issue.

“This year I will work with Congress and our military to finally repeal the law that denies gay Americans the right to serve the country they love because of who they are. It’s the right thing to do,” the president said.

His statement drew a standing ovation from Congress and Defense Secretary Robert Gates. But many LGBT activists were not impressed.

Richard Socarides, an advisor to former President Bill Clinton – the man who signed DADT into law – told The Washington Post that just talking about ending the ban “without a moratorium on the witch hunts and expulsions and without even a plan for future action just won’t cut it. Look, we are not second-class citizens and our rights are not second-term problems.”

National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Executive Director Rea Carey said: “The time for broad statements is over. The time to get down to business is overdue. We wish we had heard him speak of concrete steps tonight.”

So, tell us what you think. Was it enough? Or should he have gone further? Is this the issue to push the president on now? What do you think?

—  admin

Suspense builds over State of the Union

The gay suspense continues to build over tonight’s State of the Union Address, which begins at 8 p.m. Dallas time. The question is, will President Barack Obama say anything about repealing “don’t ask, don’t tell,” and if so, what will he say? As Adam Bink notes at Open Left, if Obama merely states that he wants to repeal the 17-year-old ban on openly gay servicemembers, it would be nothing new and should be viewed as a huge disappointment. Instead, Obama needs to say when and how he plans to repeal DADT, and then actually do it. Chris Johnson of DCAgenda, formerly the Washington Blade, offers a nice primer. And then there’s this. Anyone hosting a gay watch party?

—  John Wright

If you want Obama to talk about DADT tomorrow night, leave him a message

Will he or won’t he? That’s the question.

Sen. Carl Levin, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, indicated yesterday that he expected President Barack Obama to talk about repealing “don’t ask, don’t tell” during his State of the Union Address tomorrow night. But White House press secretary Robert Gibbs reportedly sidestepped questions about the matter today, saying only that the ban on openly gay servicemembers is under consideration for inclusion in Obama’s speech.

In any case, local gay veteran Dave Gainer says he’s tired of all the delays on DADT, and he’s urging people to call the White House switchboard to make their voices heard. Gainer, a board member for Servicemembers Legal Defense Network whom I profiled last month, sent over this link.

—  John Wright