Asked on Tuesday if the White House would consider halting gay discharges by presidential authority, press secretary Robert Gibbs said it would not stop the firing of gay troops.This appears to be a direct message to all current LGBTQ armed service members: as of right now, you will still be discharged if you come out. Sorry, Lt. Dan Choi, it seems you will, indeed, be fired. The news comes on the back of the Palm Center releasing a study by legal experts stating that yes, in fact, Pres. Obama could end Don't Ask, Don't Tell with an executive order.
That said, Gibbs insisted that the President believes that the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy “isn’t working for our national interests” and that he “will work with the Joints Chiefs of Staff, the administration and with Congress” to change the policy.
In recent weeks, the President’s national security team has sent mixed messages. Defense Secretary Robert Gates spoke of what action would occur “if” the policy were repealed, suggesting it may not be; and national security advisor James Jones said this weekend he was not sure if the ban would be lifted.
I think I'm just about out of commentary on this particular topic. That's ok, though, because Andrew Sullivan said it better:
Here we are, in the summer of 2009, with gay servicemembers still being fired for the fact of their orientation. Here we are, with marriage rights spreading through the country and world and a president who cannot bring himself even to acknowledge these breakthroughs in civil rights, and having no plan in any distant future to do anything about it at a federal level. Here I am, facing a looming deadline to be forced to leave my American husband for good, and relocate abroad because the HIV travel and immigration ban remains in force and I have slowly run out of options (unlike most non-Americans with HIV who have no options at all).
And what is Obama doing about any of these things? What is he even intending at some point to do about these things? So far as I can read the administration, the answer is: nada. We're firing Arab linguists? So sorry. We won't recognize in any way a tiny minority of legally married couples in several states because they're, ugh, gay? We had no idea. There's a ban on HIV-positive tourists and immigrants? Really? Thanks for letting us know. Would you like to join Joe Solmonese and John Berry for cocktails? The inside of the White House is fabulous these days.
Yesterday, Robert Gibbs gave non-answer after non-answer on civil unions and Obama's clear campaign pledge to grant equal federal rights for gay couples; non-answer after non-answer on the military's remaining ban on honest servicemembers. What was once a categorical pledge is now - well let's call it the toilet paper that it is. I spent yesterday trying to get a better idea of what's intended on all fronts, and the overwhelming sense - apart from a terror of saying anything about gay people on the record - is that we are in the same spot as in every Democratic administration: the well-paid leaders of the established groups get jobs and invites, and that's about it. Worse: we will get a purely symbolic, practically useless hate crimes bill that they will then wave in our faces to prove they need do nothing more.
Whoa dude. Whoa.