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Obama to Speak at American Legion Convention

Obama to Speak at American Legion Convention

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President Barack Obama will deliver remarks Tuesday in Minneapolis at the national convention of the American Legion, which strongly opposes the impending repeal of "don't ask, don't tell."

It's unclear whether Obama will address DADT repeal, which he and military leaders certified in July and which will formally end September 20.

American Legion leaders opposed congressional repeal of the 1993 policy and had urged the administration to fight a July order by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals lifting a stay on a previous worldwide injunction against DADT enforcement.

"Micro-managing military policies by judicial fiat ignores the authority of our military leadership and circumvents the military's own Uniform Code of Military Justice," American Legion national commander Jimmie L. Foster said in a statement last month regarding the ninth circuit order. "Simply put, the military's role is to fight and win our nation's wars. Judges lack the expertise on how to best do this."

The Legion's staunch opposition to DADT repeal has its detractors among the membership ranks, however. In July, Maj. Gen. (Ret.) Dennis Laich ended his membership because, as he wrote in a well-publicized letter to Foster, the organization's "Twentieth Century policy positions make it impossible for me to be a member of the American Legion in the Twenty-First Century."

"Policy positions that the American Legion and several of its senior leaders have taken regarding gay and lesbian service in our military are repugnant to me and represent a bigotry and discrimination that demeans the service and sacrifice of gays and lesbians to our national defense," Laich wrote.

Minnesota Public Radio reports that Obama will focus on unemployment during his convention remarks: 9.4% of the state's veterans are currently unemployed. The rate of post-9/11 veterans who are out of work in Minnesota is at a staggering 22.9%, among the nation's highest.

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