Activists Question Lack of Action on DADT

National security adviser Gen. James Jones has suggested the future of "don't ask, don't tell" is unclear, prompting activists to wonder why the White House isn't focused on repealing the ban on gays in the military.

BY Kerry Eleveld

May 11 2009 12:00 AM ET

National security adviser Gen. James Jones appearing Sunday on ABC's This Week indicated that the future of the military's policy barring gays serving openly in the military is not clear.

Asked by George Stephanopoulos directly whether "don't ask, don't tell" would be overturned, General Jones responded, "I don't know."

The statement runs in direct conflict with President Barack Obama's handwritten note to a lesbian soldier, 2nd Lt. Sandy Tsao, who will be discharged later this month from the Army under the policy.

In response to a letter from Tsao, President Obama wrote, "Although it will take some time to complete (partly because it needs congressional action) I intend to fulfill my commitment."

Asked for a clarification of General Jones's comments, a White House spokesperson said, "The president remains committed to repeal."

The Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, a group that lobbies for repeal of the gay ban, sent out an immediate response to Jones's appearance: "Jones's answer, along with Secretary Gates's remarks to the Army War College on April 16, make it clear that a calculated political decision has been made that the president is not going to take 'don't ask, don't tell' on publicly -- himself -- and instead his Defense team is doing it." Defense Secretary Gates has also indicated in previous remarks that repeal is still in question.

Many LGBT advocates familiar with the machinations of Capitol Hill agree with the assessment that President Obama has chosen not to spend political capital on overturning the policy.

One of the key questions they have been asking is why, if the president is serious about repealing the policy, has a bill not been introduced in the Senate? The Military Readiness Enhancement Act was dropped in the House in early March.

Tags: Politics

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