Obama pledges to end ban on gays serving openly in military

October 11, 2009 at 2:10 pm | Posted in Lifescape | 1 Comment
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By CHRISTINE SIMMONS

The Associated Press

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‘ & –>WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama reaffirmed in a speech Saturday his campaign pledge to end the ban on homosexuals serving openly in the military, but offered no timetable or specifics for acting on that longstanding promise.

He acknowledged to a cheering crowd that some policy changes he promised on the campaign trail are not coming as quickly as they expected.

“I will end ‘don’t ask, don’t tell,’ ” Obama said to a standing ovation from the crowd of about 3,000 at the annual dinner of the Human Rights Campaign, a gay civil-rights advocacy group.

The law was passed by Congress in 1993 and signed by President Bill Clinton, who also promised to repeal the ban on homosexuals in the military but was blunted by opposition in the military and Congress. Obama said he’s working with Pentagon and congressional leaders on ending the policy.

“We should not be punishing patriotic Americans who have stepped forward to serve the country,” Obama said. “We should be celebrating their willingness to step forward and show such courage . . . especially when we are fighting two wars.”

Obama said it is no secret that “our progress may be taking longer than we like.” He followed this by asking supporters to trust his administration’s course.

“I appreciate that many of you don’t believe progress has come fast enough,” Obama said. “Do not doubt the direction we are heading and the destination we will reach.”

Some advocates said they have already heard Obama’s promises — they just want to hear a timeline. Cleve Jones, a pioneer activist and creator of the AIDS Memorial Quilt, said Obama delivered a brilliant speech but added that “it lacked the answer to our most pressing question . . . when.”

“He repeated his promises that he’s made to us before, but he did not indicate when he would accomplish these goals and we’ve been waiting for a while now,” said Jones, an organizer of a major gay-rights rally expected to draw thousands of gay and lesbian activists to the National Mall today.

Obama also called on Congress to repeal the Defense Of Marriage Act, which limits how governments recognize partnerships and determine benefits. He also called for a law to extend benefits to domestic partners.

He expressed strong support for the Human Rights Campaign agenda: ending discrimination against gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender people.

President Barack Obama spoke at the national dinner of the Human Rights Campaign on Saturday in Washington.   Getty Images/Alex Wong

Getty Images/Alex Wong

President Barack Obama spoke at the national dinner of the Human Rights Campaign on Saturday in Washington. Getty Images/Alex Wong

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  1. nice


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