Reaching out to a skeptical gay community, President Barack Obama on Wednesday urged Congress to repeal the ban on gays and lesbians serving openly in the military, but he neither made a commitment to suspend the practice in the interim nor issued a deadline.
Ending DADT: it's the right thing to do. But I note that he has committed only to working with Congress and the military to end the ban this year. If he achieves it, I will stand up and cheer. But I have experienced enough crushing disappointments to believe it will actually happen.
No real specifics. We better get some soon. Considering that the Defense Dept. asked Levin to delay this week's hearings because of the President's speech, I expected him to have some sort of an announcement that might have offered a reason for the delay, but in his speech Obama just seemed to repeat the status quo. If they had allowed the hearings to proceed this week, Obama could have said, "Hearings are underway to repeal this discriminatory policy," which, with his intentions, would have made a much stronger statement imho.
Punt—no change announced on DADT in the State of the Union address.
Joe Jervis posted this photo of the Joint Chiefs of Staff reacting—or not reacting—to the DADT announcement:
More reaction (and non-reaction) after the jump!
And after some suggested that the Joint Chiefs aren't supposed to react positively or negatively to the Commander-in-Chief's speech, lest they show bias, he posted another photo of the Joint Chiefs jumping to their feet to applaud when the president shook his fist at Iran. Check it out.
Finally, John at Americablog—a pretty fierce critic of Obama on DADT—praised the speech:
1. The SOTU matters. No, no one remembers it after a week, but it still is the most important speech of the year, and a lot of thought and politics goes into what is and isn't included. A few days ago, Joe wrote that obviously DADT wouldn't be in the SOTU, because we never imagined the President or his people would want to come with 100 miles of the repeal. Yet they did.
2. The President said "this year." That's a timeline, baby.
3. The President said he would work with Congress and the military. He didn't call on Congress to act, putting the burden on them, which many of us feared he might. He took responsibility for working with Congress and the military. That's good.
4. He said "repeal." He didn't say "change," which he and his people have been saying a lot lately, especially in front of straight audiences. He said "repeal." That's good.
5. He added the "it's the right thing to do" remark. That wasn't in his prepared statements. It's subtle, but it means he knows this specific promise matters.
And the best way for Obama to show he's serious about ending DADT this year? Include the repeal in his defense budget, says Service Members Legal Defense Fund.