A federal judges ruling striking down the rule that bans openly gay people from serving in the U.S. military has put the White House on the brink of another political firestorm.
In court papers filed today, the Obama administration says the dispute raises serious legal questions and that the government will be irreparably harmed unless the current policy is allowed to remain in place temporarily. The administration is seeking a stay on the federal judges order.
What else weakens the country? Not allowing gays to serve in the military.
Both of those points have come from the Obama administration in the last year and a half. The first, of course, came with today's filing. The second came during a presidential speech at the White House in June 2009 during a reception with lesbian, gay, transgender, and bisexual supporters.
The two conflicting points are likely to be played side-by-side in the next day or so, but, perhaps, not this additional paragraph in his June 2009 speech:
"As commander in chief, I do have a responsibility to see that this change is administered in a practical way and a way that takes over the long term."
It's almost as if the president could see today coming.
I still don't get this year-long study to see if giving a group of people their civil rights will hurt the rest of us. Perhaps we should go back and see if we can glean insight from Dr. King's essay "Why we can't wait". I haven't read it in a while, but I suspect there is something there.
I also don't get why Obama is waiting for Congress. Last I knew the response to an order from the commander in chief was "Yes, Sir!". Is he afraid of angering the Republicans and having them block legislation? Too late.
Here's something I genuinely don't get about this argument: What is the difference between Obama as an individual and the Obama Administration? I keep seeing headlines saying "Obama changing course…", "Obama seeks delay…", "Obama does X…" — it may just be for brevity, but it feel inaccurate to me.
I get that at the end of the day, yes, it's his work because it's his administration, his legacy, etc. But I feel, and have always felt, there's an inherent difference in what the man does and what a branch of his chosen leaders do. It's not as if Obama himself filed the court papers, just as it wasn't for Bush.
Am I really missing something about about this works? I'm sure I'm wrong about it, but I've never really seen the government as just its leader.
That said: it's discouraging that the neither the administration nor Obama himself can simply make this issue the non-issue that it should be. The judges are correct; there is no legal standing for the policy.
I think a lot of the language is meant to mask the real problem: a lot of people in the military don't WANT to serve with people who are gay. It's not entirely clear HOW that is suppose to change over a short period of time, especially in an organization that isn't usually about reaching consensus among the people in it when issuing orders.
The president called -- again -- for Congress to repeal the policy, but it's not clear how that will work, either, other than to possibly take the political heat off him. But how would that repeal work, set a date-certain? When? After the Obama administration? Before?
@Bob — They're already serving with people who are gay, in fear of retribution, outing, discharge or worse.
Also: if the law is unconstitutional, aren't people's "wants" moot?
//Am I really missing something about about this works? I'm sure I'm wrong about it, but I've never really seen the government as just its leader.
He's not the government, under this definition, but he IS the leader of the executive branch. The Justice Department is under the direction of the attorney general, which is a cabinet position of the president's and he/she serves at the pleasure of the president.
Amen, Matt. And the "Don't Ask" part? People ask ALL THE TIME. They ask in just trying to make small talk -- what a person did over the weekend, if they have kids, if they're in a relationship... I have a gay friend in the military, and coworkers are always trying to set her up with guys they know. Um, sort of hard to answer without telling, after the hundredth time.
The anxiety seems to center around showers and the out-of-control predatory behavior that would supposedly ensue if folks could be open. But really, maybe those people are worried about it because they engage in it themselves. Check out this story from The Root: http://preview.tinyurl.com/2by5fey
One of the reasons people cite for keeping gays out of the military is that they fear bigotry will reduce the operating efficincy of our military which could cost lives. Sounds like the same issue people had decades ago with racial diversity in the military.
Another reason is fear of sexual harassment. Rules are already in place to deal with this.
We are indebted to all those who serve in the military and owe them our best in providing a secure and supportive environment. We also owe them all the same freedoms they protect for all of us.
I am incredibly disappointed in President Obama and I actually wrote to the White House for the first time in my life over this. I hoped he would be lead us to a repeal of DADT. Instead, he showed us that it only takes one year and 11 months to become "one of them."
The Obama Administration (and Obama himself) have not flipped on this issue. It is the legal obligation of the Executive to attempt to enforce and defend (in court) laws passed by Congress. DADT is the law, like it or not, so they are forced to defend it in court to the best of their ability (which is the obligation of the parties in any case, to make their case as effectively as possible).
That's one reason Obama is in such a bind and trying to get DADT repealed or altered as soon as possible.
They are stuck in this position until final appeals, which could go all the way to SCOTUS.
In the 4th comment here, there is a good discussion and some memos about the extent to which the White House has a duty to defend.
My take on it is that the President wants to end the policy, but end it in a way that ends the issue. If the military study determines that having gay servicemembers doesn't have a negative impact on the fighting forces (and given the number of servicemembers who are in the services now its hard to draw any other conclusion), that drastically reduces the arguments available to people who want to maintain the status quo. But if the courts force the change on the military, we'll have more battles over 'activist judges' and the liberals' willingness to sacrifice military preparedness to pander special-interest groups, blah, blah, blah.
The problem, of course, is that eliminating the ban is the right thing to do - it should end, immediately, retroactively, etc. Its easy to be disappointed that the president isn't forcing the change. But its also easy, for me anyway, to see why he's following the strategy he's chosen.
What about the Truman/Roosevelt method? Separate units?