UPDATE: President Barack Obama has pledged to work with Congress this year to end the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy that bars homosexuals from serving openly in the military. But the president’s words weren’t strong enough for some gay-rights activists, who say that pledging to “work” on changing the law is not the same as pledging to end the law.
“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,” the president said in his State of the Union address Wednesday night.
That one sentence was the sum total of Obama’s declarations on the issue, but “you only need one sentence for the military leaders in this country to hear their commander-in-chief,” House Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY) said after the speech.
“Obama touched on the topic briefly, but didn’t offer a detailed plan to end the ban many on the left were hoping for,” reports Evan McMorris-Santoro at TalkingPointsMemo.
ORIGINAL STORY FOLLOWS BELOW
President Barack Obama will ask Congress to repeal the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy during his State of the Union address on Wednesday night, news reports say.
White House Senior Adviser David Axelrod confirmed to CNN Wednesday that the president plans to press the issue when he addresses Congress and the nation.
“This is a position the president has held,” Axelrod said, as quoted at the Huffington Post. “Obviously it will take an act of Congress to do that. They will have to usher in that transition. And we’re going to continue to push to get that done. … We don’t think it’s a just policy, but it’s also not a good policy for our national security interests.”
CNN also reported that Gen. John Shalikashvili, a former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has sent a letter to senior Pentagon leadership declaring that the time has come to end the 17-year-old policy.
“As a nation built on the principal of equality, we should recognize and welcome change that will build a stronger more cohesive military,” Shalikashvili reportedly wrote.
HuffPo’s Sam Stein quoted “a source in the gay rights community” who said “it’s going to happen.
“[I]t is going to be brought up in a somewhat significant way. But what that significance is we don’t know,” the source said.
News sources say the president will focus primarily on the economy in the speech scheduled for 9 pm ET Wednesday.