New Wrinkle in Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell Fight: Just Don’t Ask About the Told

This week, a new strategy emerged in the effort to keep brave and qualified gay soldiers in the military, despite the still-in-effect-for-the-foreseeable-future “Don’t ask/Don’t tell” policy.  From Advocate.com’s Kerry Eleveld:

Seventy-seven Congressional members led by Democratic Representative Alcee Hastings of Florida sent a letter to President Barack Obama Monday urging him to take immediate action to stop the investigations of “don’t ask, don’t tell” violations. The letter does not call for an executive order halting discharges but rather a change in how the policy is implemented within the Department of Defense.

“It is a presidential moratorium, it is a significant presidential action, but it’s not an executive order,” said Christopher Neff, political director at the Palm Center, a research institute at University of California, Santa Barbara. “They basically want the military to disregard anyone who ‘tells’ [of someone’s sexuality] as long as there isn’t a [Uniform Code of Military Justice] violation or something criminal.”

Kerry asked Robert Gibbs about it at yesterday’s briefing, explaining it well in the process:
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Full Text of President Obama’s Remarks and Memorandum on Federal Benefits

THE WHITE HOUSE

Office of the Press Secretary

___________________________________________________________

For Immediate Release                         June 17, 2009

REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT

AT THE SIGNING OF A

PRESIDENTIAL MEMORANDUM

REGARDING FEDERAL BENEFITS AND NON-DISCRIMINATION

Oval Office

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President Obama’s ‘Friends with Benefits’ Memo Contains Baby Steps

Update: Just got off of the conference call with Director of the Office of Personnel Management John Berry.  Unfortunately, I didn’t get a question in, but I can say that the press, as a whole, are very unimpressed with this move.  I expect there will be a lot of negative press on this.  The tone of the questioning was uniformly skeptical.

On the other hand, Berry did stress, repeatedly, that this memo’s reach is restricted by DOMA.  It almost seemed as though Berry was saying that this very weak tea is designed to whet the public appetite for a DOMA repeal.  If so, the administration’s defense of DOMA is that much more mystifying.

Berry also tried to pretend that a Presidential memo is the same as an executive order, but was called on it.  The memo expires with the President’s term.  He again stressed the need for a more permanent, legislative solution in response.

Another reporter pointed out that most, if not all, of the benefits in this memo are already available to at least some federal employees.  Berry responded that this action removes such decisions from the individual supervisor’s discretion.

The White House has just released a fact sheet regarding the Presidential Memorandum to be signed later today.  While any progress against discrimination is welcome, this seems like a poorly-timed half-measure.

The benefits outlined in the fact sheet aren’t going to impress anyone, and coming, as they do, when President Obama is under fire from the LGBTQ community and its allies, I predict very loud shrugging in response.  If you can’t afford a dozen roses, maybe you ought to skip the dandelions.

A press conference call is scheduled for 3 pm.  I should have more to say about this then.  Here is the full text of the fact sheet:
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What if LGBTQ Issues Are No Longer the Wedge, President Obama Is?

I plan to go into much greater detail on the State of the LGBTQ Union later in the week, but a thought crystallized in me last night when I saw a tweet from one of my favorite tweeps:

GayRainArmy Is Obama so out of touch that he thinks “private assurances” to LGBT “leaders” is going to help anything? RT @heathr http://tr.im/oKGbabout 2 hours ago from Seesmic Desktop

The link is to an announcement about the President’s new “Friends…with benefits” memorandum, to be signed later today.  From NYT: Continue reading

Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell Opinion Poll: 3 Questions

I’m conducting an opinion poll about the military’s “Don’t ask/Don’t tell” (DADT) policy for use in an article later this week.   There are 3 seperate polls, please choose only one.

Click here to take the poll for Self-identified Conservatives.

Click here to take the poll for Self-identified Liberals.

Click here to take the poll for Self-identified Independents.

If you wish, you can click here to see other articles that I’ve written on the topic.

Independent Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell Opinion Poll: 3 Questions

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Liberal Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell Opinion Poll: 3 Questions

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