Frank responding to backlash Dems' inaction on gay rights, critics say

The US military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy barring homosexuals from serving openly in the armed forces will "likely" be ended next year, in the 2010 defense spending bill, says US House Rep. Barney Frank.

Frank, who is only the second openly gay member of the House of Representatives, told that repealing DADT as part of a military spending bill was always the plan for approaching the issue.

“Military issues are always done as part of the overall authorization bill,” Frank said. “'Don’t ask, don’t tell' was always going to be part of the military authorization.”

This marks the first time that a prominent Democrat with access to the Obama administration has set a timeline for ending the controversial military policy. In October, President Barack Obama told a fundraiser of the gay-rights group Human Rights Campaign that he planned to end DADT, but was almost instantly criticized for not stating when.

But Frank's announcement was met with skepticism by some progressive and gay-rights bloggers, who noted that the Advocate article cites Frank as saying the repeal will "likely" be included in the bill, and noting also that they would be more certain of the new policy's implementation if the news came from a member of the Obama administration and not a congressman.

"The problem is 'might' isn't good enough," writes John Avarosis at AmericaBlog. "And Barney Frank as the messenger isn't good enough. A senior White House official needs to go public, by name, and tell the world that the White House is going to push for the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell next spring."

Avarosis says he believes a boycott of the Democratic Party that he helped launch several days ago helped spur Frank into making his statement. The "Don't Ask, Don't Give" boycott -- which is supported by numerous progressive blogs and organizations and is described as a "pause" in donations to the Democratic Party -- came in reaction to the Obama administration's perceived lack of action on gay-rights issues.


The American Medical Association, the US's largest doctors' group, voted on Tuesday to oppose the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy, and adopted a resolution stating that bans on same-sex marriage contribute to health disparities. But, as the Associated Press noted, the organization stopped short of supporting gay marriage.

The AMA "made clear that Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell should be repealed because of the ethical dilemma between doctors and LGBT service members who are unable to share all of the information that may be necessary in giving medical guidance and treatment,” Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese said in a statement.

Conservative groups expressed disappointment over the decision. Focus on the Family's Jenny Tyree told the Houston Chronicle that the AMA's decision was based on a "political agenda." She said disparities in health care for gay and straight people should be addressed in health care reform, without touching the definition of marriage.