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 10 2009 11:00 PM ET

"There has got to be an immediate moratorium on 'don't ask, don't tell' discharges," said Socarides. "It's well within the president's authority to do that. People's lives are being destroyed, their careers are being destroyed."

The idea of suspending the policy through executive order appears to be gaining steam among some legal scholars and lawmakers alike.

Rep. Rush Holt of New Jersey, an original cosponsor of the House repeal bill, wrote in an editorial over the weekend: "We have 140 cosponsors on this bill at the moment, more than enough to justify moving it expeditiously through the House Committee on Armed Services and to the House floor before the July Fourth holiday. In the meantime, the president could issue an executive order announcing a study of the current policy. During that time, there could be a moratorium on any investigations or prosecutions of LGBT soldiers."

A new study released Monday by a team of legal experts in military law made the case for use of an executive order. Aaron Belkin, political science professor and director of the Palm Center, a think tank that studies gender, sexuality, and the military, explained the crux of the rationale.

"The most important legal justification for signing an executive order is that Congress has passed a stop-loss bill which explicitly gives the president the right to retain any service member who is necessary for the national defense during a time of national security emergency," he said. "We are now, by law, in a period of national security emergency; therefore the stop-loss law is in effect and that gives the commander in chief the right to trump any other law having to do with military personnel policy, separation, and retention."

Still other activists familiar with the military policy question the viability of an executive order from the president.

Tags: Politics

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