As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Could Obama Stop The Firing Of Gay Military Members?

This talk about a potential gay or lesbian Supreme Court justice bubbled up over the past couple days, leaving us with the perverse dichotomy of allowing a gay or lesbian to preside over the nation's highest court - in fact, thinking it absurd to even question someone's fitness along those lines - but not allowing a gay or lesbian to serve their country as an Arabic linguist.

Dan Choi, a West Point graduate and officer in the Army National Guard who is fluent in Arabic and who returned recently from Iraq, received notice today that the military is about to fire him. Why? Because he came out of the closet as a gay man on national television.

Some readers might think it unfair to blame Obama. After all, the president inherited the "don't ask, don't tell" law when he took office. As Commander-in-Chief, he has to follow the law. If the law says that the military must fire any service member who acknowledges being gay, that is not Obama's fault.

Or is it?

A new study, about to be published by a group of experts in military law, shows that President Obama does, in fact, have stroke-of-the-pen authority to suspend gay discharges. The "don't ask, don't tell" law requires the military to fire anyone found to be gay or lesbian. But there is nothing requiring the military to make such a finding. The president can simply order the military to stop investigating service members' sexuality.

That's a compelling case. Especially considering that there's documentary proof that Obama has expressed his commitment to repealing Don't Ask Don't Tell.

Sandy - Thanks for the wonderful and thoughtful letter. It is because of outstanding Americans like you that I committed to changing our current policy. Although it will take some time to complete (partly because it needs Congressional action) I intend to fulfill my commitment. — Barack Obama.

I get the sense that Obama likes, or is at least comfortable with, the tangle of needing Congressional action. He can claim his hands are tied and until Congress acts, he is powerless. But the above article has another opinion - Obama could block implementation. It would be controversial, to be sure. But leaders don't bow to controversy.

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