First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill
Biden's military initiative Joining Forces excludes gay
The nationwide tour that looks at the
unique challenges faced by military families is set to launch on
Tuesday with an event at the White House.
a statement to gay glossy The Advocate, Kristina Schake,
communications director for the first lady, confirmed that Joining
Forces would not include gay families.
“The president has been crystal clear
that the administration is moving forward with the repeal of 'Don't
Ask, Don't Tell' quickly and efficiently,” she said, referring to
the law that bans gay and bisexual troops from serving openly.
“However, it still remains the law. The White House, including the
first lady and Dr. Biden, look forward to working with the families
of gay and lesbian service members after certification occurs and
repeal goes into effect.”
Alex Nicholson, executive director of
Servicemembers United, a group that represents gay and bisexual
troops, said the exclusion was unwarranted.
“There is really no reason to
continue to exclude gay families or their advocates from the first
lady's events for military families and military family advocates,”
he told the magazine's website.
The executive director of
Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN) said in a statement
released Monday that he understood the first lady's decision but
added that the exclusion highlights the need to quicken the pace of
“The first lady's welcomed visits to
our military bases underscores why we need certification and repeal
sooner rather than later, hopefully before the end of this quarter,”
Military leaders have said
certification looks likely by summer's end.
“Servicemembers Legal Defense Network
looks forward to Mrs. Obama having the opportunity to sit down with
LGB service members and their families later this year when 'Don't
Ask' is no longer the law. We believe the first lady also looks
forward to that opportunity once repeal is in place,” he added.
The military, however, has already said
that repeal of the gay ban won't bring much relief to gay families,
which cannot be recognized due to the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA),
the Clinton-era law that bans the federal government from recognizing
the marriages of gay and lesbian couples.
Spouses of gay service members are not
eligible for crucial benefits such as health care or access to child