Monday, July 6, 2009

The New Republic: Obama—Ask For Gay Rights

The New Republic: Obama—Ask For Gay Rights : NPR
[In all of this, nothing is more infuriating than Obama's refusal to act on Don't Ask, Don't Tell. It is true that the issue affects a relatively small number of gays and lesbians. But discrimination in our armed forces carries a potent symbolism: It tells an entire class of people that the country is not interested in their service. And it would be an easy problem to fix. As Nathaniel Frank argued at tnr Online last month, Obama may need Congress's approval to officially repeal Don't Ask, Don't Tell, but he has the legal authority to tell the Pentagon to stop enforcing the policy via executive order. He could do it tomorrow. As for the political risks: Obama should look at some polls. Unlike same-sex marriage, the question of whether gays should serve openly in the military is no longer a particularly controversial issue. According to Gallup, 69 percent of Americans believe gays should be able to serve openly. To put that number in perspective, it is 25 points higher than the percentage of Americans who endorse Obama's handling of health care, 19 points higher than the percentage who currently support the war in Afghanistan, and 18 points higher than the percentage who approve of the administration's economic policies. Obama is not afraid to push health care reform, send more troops to Afghanistan, or stand by his stimulus program—nor should he be. But why, when it comes to the far less controversial cause of gays serving in the military, is he apparently willing to punt?

And so, the Pentagon continues to expel gay troops. The Defense of Marriage Act continues to wreak havoc on the lives of gay families. And we fail to perceive "equality" or "dignity" or "respect" in any of this.]

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