Obama’s Call to Abolish ‘Don’t Ask Don’t Tell’ Seen As Politically Risky
Obama announced his desire to allow homosexuals to serve openly in the military during his first State of the Union address Wednesday night.
“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.
The Clinton-era rule, which skirted the outright ban on homosexuals serving in the military, would likely take an act of Congress to change, said Elaine Donnelly, president of the Center for Military Readiness.
“Voters are concerned about national security, and they don’t want America’s military to be used for any purpose other than national defense,” Donnelly said in a statement.
Last year, a letter to President Obama and Congress signed by more than 1,000 retired military officers, including 47 four-star leaders, said that the 1993 law banning homosexuals from openly serving in the U.S. armed services should be retained. (See earlier story)
But such a ban harms military readiness, said Joe Solomonese, president of the Human Rights Campaign, a homosexual advocacy group.
“The commander-in-chief sent a clear message tonight that in a time of war, what matters is that our men and women get the job done – not whether they’re gay or straight,” Solomonese said in a statement.
“Our country simply cannot afford this discriminatory law that hurts military readiness by denying patriotic men and women the opportunity to serve. Ridding our laws of discrimination that weakens our national security will require leadership from the president as well as congressional allies.”
Donnelly said Democrats are aware of similarities between 2010 and 1994, the year Republicans took control of Congress during a Democrat’s presidency.
In 1994, a post-election poll by the Democratic Leadership Council found that health care was the biggest problem for the Democrats, but – as the Washington Post put it -- “The other issue was cultural liberalism, symbolized by Clinton's support for homosexuals in the military, cited by 51 percent of those who were disappointed in his leadership.”
Donnelly indicated that things haven’t changed: “Liberals and Blue Dog Democrats can dismiss the national security message sent by Massachusetts, as well as Stanley Greenburg’s post-1994-election analysis, but they would do so with political risk,” she said.