A group opposed to “Don't Ask, Don't
Tell” has accused President Barack Obama of punting repeal of the
policy until 2013.
While the president has been clear on
his support for repealing the policy that forces gay troops to keep
their sexual orientation a secret, he's been vague about whether he
supports repeal this year.
On Friday, the White House ended the
speculation, saying the president agreed with the advice of military
leaders that legislative action should come after the Pentagon
completes its internal review of how best to implement changes should
Congress repeal the law. The study – ordered by Defense Secretary
Robert Gates – is due in December.
“The White House knows that the
political environment will become more challenging over time,” Dr.
Aaron Belkin, director of the
Palm Center, a group that supports repeal, and Associate
Professor of Political Science at the University of California, Santa
Barbara, said. “If repeal doesn't happen this calendar year, it is
unlikely to pass until after the next presidential election.”
In a response to Ike Skelton, the
Missouri Democrat who heads the House Armed Services Committee, Gates
and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen said
they “strongly oppose” lifting the gay ban before the review is
“Our military must be afforded the
opportunity to inform us of their concerns, insights and suggestions
if we are to carry out this change successfully,” Gates and Mullen
“Today's letter represents a public
effort by the Obama Administration to put a stop to Congressional
repeal of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell” in 2010,” Christopher Neff,
deputy director of the Palm Center, said. “Clearly, the Department
of Defense is not its own branch of government. The secretary of
defense serves the president.”
Aubrey Sarvis, executive director of
Defense Network, a group that lobbies for repeal of the law, said
his group “repudiates the delay game plan” being coordinated by
Skelton, Gates, Mullen and the White House.
Michigan Senator Carl Levin, chairman
of the Senate Armed Service Committee, is expected to sponsor repeal
language in the defense budget in the Senate, while Representative
Patrick Murphy, a Pennsylvania Democrat, is considered the most
likely to offer the legislation in the House.
The window to act, however, is quickly
coming to a close as markups for the 2011 defense authorization bill
on both sides of Congress are expected to take place within the next
3 weeks. A House vote may come as early as May 24.