White House Doesn't Need Protection, Gay Troops Do

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It was sad but not surprising to read the recent article in Politico.com which suggested that the legislative process to repeal "don't ask, don't tell" is badly stalled. The writing on the wall has been apparent for months, but some community leaders have been unwilling to acknowledge or even see it.

Within weeks after President Obama took office, a White House spokesperson told a journalist that the White House would begin to study the gay ban some time in 2010. Not act, but study. Democrats do not have the votes in House Armed Services, where they outnumber Republicans by a margin of 36-25, to get repeal legislation out of committee. And now Politico.com is quoting U.S. Senators who seem quite reluctant to commit to any timetable. Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, which has been quite optimistic about the prospects for legislative repeal, is now talking openly about having "a shot" at repealing the ban sometime during this administration.

How long will community leaders continue to protect the White House from any meaningful pressure to sign an executive order suspending "don't ask, don't tell?" There is really only one question that our leaders need to answer: do you want gay troops to serve openly and legally tomorrow or not? To those who would continue to protect this White House because they believe we may have a shot at legislative repeal over the next three and a half years, I would respectfully ask how many Arabic linguists they are willing to lose before changing their minds?

As the Center for American Progress and other leading organizations and individuals have recognized, the only way to untangle the legislative stalemate is to endorse a multi-step process involving an executive order first and legislative repeal later. Otherwise, we'll have a very long wait indeed.

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