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 But he didn’t say anything about suspending discharges under the policy until it can be repealed.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?