Obama vows to repeal ban on openly gay soldiers 

President Obama called on Congress to move this year to repeal the law banning openly gay men and women from serving in the United States military.

Obama has signaled repeatedly that he intended to lift the ban on gays serving, but has never set a deadline. He took it a step further in Wednesday's speech, calling on Congress to change the law in its current session.

"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 told Congress in his State of the Union address.

Congressional leaders have for months been discussing ways to repeal the law. One plan calls for inserting a provision in the 2011 defense authorization bill, but "no decisions have been made," a House Democratic leadership aide said Wednesday.

Gays had been growing increasingly frustrated with Obama over the "Don't Ask Don't Tell" policy and were demanding to know when he would move to lift the ban. While Obama wants Congress to act, some experts believe he has the power to undo the ban on his own.

"The executive branch has the authority to suspend homosexual conduct discharges without legislative action," declared a report issued in May by a group of military law experts at the University of California at Santa Barbara.

Known as "Don't ask, don't tell" the policy became law in 1993 through an executive order signed by President Bill Clinton, who had promised to lift the ban entirely during his campaign.

Clinton's executive order was meant to serve as a compromise after Congress resisted his initiative and put the ban on openly gay service into law earlier that year. Gays had already been prohibited from serving under Defense Department rules.

Legislation to lift the ban may not pass easily. Many members, particularly Republicans, have questioned whether it would be wise to change the policy while the military is engaged in two wars and some lawmakers have pledged to block any effort to overturn the law.

"We have not seen evidence to show how this will improve readiness when our military is fighting two wars," said Michael Steel, spokesman for House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio.


About The Author

Susan Ferrechio

Pin It

Speaking of Politics, washington Examiner

More by Susan Ferrechio

Latest in Nation

© 2018 The San Francisco Examiner

Website powered by Foundation