Friday, May 01, 2009

Backing off DADT

Is President Obama backing off of his campaign promise to repeal don't ask don't tell?

New language posted on the White House website this week indicates that the President might be taking a weaker stance on allowing gays to serve in the military.

The changes were reported by AMERICAblog yesterday.

Previously, the White House website included an entire section dedicated Obama's plan to increase civil rights for gays, one point of which included the line, "Repealing Don't Ask Don't Tell." The line has since been removed. Another section had noted "[President Obama] supports repealing Don’t Ask Don’t Tell..." and now says "[President Obama] supports changing Don’t Ask Don’t Tell in a sensible way that strengthens our armed forces and our national security."

Throughout his campaign, Obama stated unequivocally that if elected, he would work to repeal Dont Ask Don't Tell. So, has Obama changed his mind about repealing the rule?

The timing seems to be a little strange. A poll was just released this week that showed the majority of Americans now support repeal of DADT.

The military is still sharply divided on the issue. An article from the New York Times says that in military circles, which have previously been more opposed to repealing DADT than the civilian population, the debate is gaining steam. Still, many top officials in the DoD, including Secretary Gates, would rather just put any decision making. Critics suggest that repealing the rule would undermine military recruitment, solidarity and morale. This argument has been losing ground, however, as the U.S. military been stretched thin by the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Repealing DADT, which has led to the dismissal of more than 10,000 people from the military, would inevitably increase enlistment.

Why, then, would President Obama choose to back down now?

Maybe his plate is pretty full, what with the mess in Pakistan, the increasing violence in Iraq and the overhaul of defense spending that was announced in April. Still, there are going to be some pretty angry Obama voters if he drops the ball on this one.

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