Alexa
  • Directory of Taiwan

Obama urges repeal of ban on gays in US military

Obama urges repeal of ban on gays in US military

President Barack Obama is urging Congress to repeal the ban on gays and lesbians serving openly in the U.S. military, but Democratic allies and Republican opponents alike are criticizing his approach.
Obama's effort to eliminate the "don't ask, don't tell" practice faces resistance not just from Congress, but also from the Pentagon, where some top officials have been strident in their support for the 1990s policy.
Still, the Pentagon said Thursday that it will work to carry out the president's wishes. Top military leaders are working on a plan for how repeal of the law would be implemented in the Defense Department, said Navy Capt. John Kirby, spokesman for Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen.
"The chairman and the (service) chiefs understand perfectly the president's intent, and they look forward to being able to provide their best military advice about the implementation of repeal," Kirby said of Obama's statement Wednesday.
"This year, I will work with Congress and our military to finally repeal the law that denies gay Americans the right to serve the country they love because of who they are," Obama said Wednesday during his State of the Union address. "It's the right thing to do."
The statement drew a standing ovation from Congress and from Defense Secretary Robert Gates, but it fell short for gay activists.
An organization representing service members who had been dismissed called on Obama to push a repeal in the upcoming Pentagon budget, and Clinton's adviser on gay issues called Obama's performance in the first year "an almost complete disaster."
Kevin Nix, communications director at the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, said the group wants Obama to repeal the policy the same way Clinton introduced it in 1993 _ through the defense authorization bill.
"We very much need a sense of urgency to get this done in 2010," said Nix, whose group estimates more that 13,500 gays and lesbians have been dismissed since 1994. "What is also needed is more attention and leadership to win repeal."
Richard Socarides, a Clinton adviser who has been a vocal critic of how Obama has handled gay constituents, was less reserved.
"In 1999, Bill Clinton became the first president ever to talk about gay rights in a State of the Union address. Eleven years later, not much has changed," Socarides said. Talking again about ending the policy "without a moratorium on the witch hunts and expulsions and without even a plan for future action just won't cut it," he said.
"Look, we are not second-class citizens and our rights are not second-term problems," he said.
Rea Carey, executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, said Obama should have announced a suspension of dismissals.
"The time for broad statements is over. The time to get down to business is overdue. We wish we had heard him speak of concrete steps tonight," Carey said.
Obama's relationship with the gay community has been rocky since his election. Gays and lesbians objected to the invitation of evangelist Rev. Rick Warren to participate in Obama's inauguration because of Warren's support for repealing gay marriage in California.
As president, Obama hasn't taken any concrete steps urging the repeal of the policy that allows gays and lesbians to serve in the military as long as they do not disclose their sexual orientation or act on it. Some former chairmen of the Joint Chiefs of Staff have acknowledged the policy is flawed, and Mullen signed off on a journal article that called for lifting the ban.
___
Associated Press writers Pauline Jelinek, Kimberly Hefling and Anne Gearan contributed to this report.


Updated : 2021-05-11 15:24 GMT+08:00