"Don't Ask, Don't Tell" to end Sept. 20
The last time we checked on this promise, Congress had voted to overturn the ban on gays and lesbians serving openly in the military, a 17-year-old policy known as "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." President Barack Obama signed the bill into law on Dec. 22, 2010.
The law created a transition period so the Department of Defense could develop a plan for ending the policy "consistent with the standards of military readiness, military effectiveness, unit cohesion, and recruiting and retention of the Armed Forces," according to the legislation. "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" would then end 60 days after the policy was approved.
On July 22, 2011, Obama approved the Defense Department plans and notified Congress that the transition period was complete. The White House said "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," would formally end on Sept. 20, 2011.
In certifying the plan, Obama said, "I want to commend our civilian and military leadership for moving forward in the careful and deliberate manner that this change requires, especially with our nation at war. I want to thank all our men and women in uniform, including those who are gay or lesbian, for their professionalism and patriotism during this transition."
We'll be watching for the final end of the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy. As it is moving forward as proposed, the rating remains Promise Kept.
The White House, Statement by the President on Certification of Repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell, July 22, 2010
The White House, Remarks by the President and Vice President at Signing of the Don't Ask, Don't Tell Repeal Act, Dec. 22, 2010
Thomas, HR 2965
Congress approves repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell"
In the final weeks of a lame duck session of Congress, Senators voted to overturn the ban on gays and lesbians serving openly in the military, a 17-year-old policy known as "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." President Barack Obama said he will soon sign the bill into law.
The measure allows for a transition period so that the Department of Defense can develop a plan for ending the policy "consistent with the standards of military readiness, military effectiveness, unit cohesion, and recruiting and retention of the Armed Forces," according to the legislation. "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" would end 60 days after the policy is approved.
The Senate voted 65 to 31 to approve the measure, which the U.S. House of Representatives had approved previously. At one time, the repeal was part of a broader defense authorization bill, but the Senate vote on Dec. 18, 2010, ended up as a vote on a stand-alone measure to repeal the ban on gays and lesbians serving openly
We'll be monitoring the implementation policy to make sure it goes forward and is consistent with Obama's statements that gays and lesbians should be able to serve openly. The Senate vote, however, was the most significant hurdle. Obama has said he intends to sign the measure, so we are ready to move repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell to Promise Kept.
U.S. Senate, roll call vote on the Motion (Motion to Concur in the House Amendment to the Senate Amendment to H.R. 2965) (Don't Ask, Don't Tell), Dec. 18, 2010
Thomas, HR 2965
National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, Task Force hails Senate passage of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' repeal bill, Dec. 18, 2010
Obama presses for repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" in the lame duck session
On the day after the November elections of 2010, President Barack Obama outlined a few of his hopes for a final, lame duck session of the 112th Congress before the Republicans take control of the U.S. House of Representatives.
One of those hopes is to end "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," the policy that prevents gays and lesbians from serving openly in the military.
Obama noted that a military review is expected to be released in December that discusses the implications of ending "Don't Ask Don't Tell."
"I will expect that Secretary of Defense (Robert) Gates and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral (Michal) Mullen will have something to say about that review. I will look at it very carefully," Obama said. "But that will give us time to act, potentially during the lame duck session, to change this policy."
"We need to provide certainty and it's time for us to move this policy forward," Obama added. "And this should not be a partisan issue. This is an issue, as I said, where you've got a sizable portion of the American people squarely behind the notion that folks who are willing to serve on our behalf should be treated fairly and equally."
We should be clear that repealing the policy is hardly a certainty -- there remains plenty of room for legislative maneuvering, because the policy repeal is part of a larger defense authorization bill. And if the repeal isn't enacted during the lame duck session, its prospects do not improve when Republicans take control of the House next year
Here, we wanted to note in this update that the 2010 elections haven't stopped Obama's attempts to keep this particular promise. Its rating remains, for now, In the Works.
The White House, Press conference by the president, Nov. 3, 2010
E-mail interview with Michael Cole, spokesperson for the Human Rights Campaign
E-mail interview with Inga Sarda-Sorensen, communications director, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force
Congress moving to end 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' policy
The U.S. House of Representatives voted on May 27, 2010, to end the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy that prohibits gays and lesbians from serving openly in the military. It's a significant step forward for President Barack Obama's campaign promise.
The vote was on a compromise plan that stops short of repealing the policy outright. The vote allows the policy to be repealed after military commanders complete a study and certify that the move would not be disruptive.
The House vote was 234 to 194. Most Democrats voted for it, while most Republicans voted against it. There were a few who broke ranks: Five Republicans supported the measure, while 26 Democrats opposed.
The full Senate has yet to vote on the matter, but a committee has approved a measure similar to the House plan, which is an amendment to a defense policy bill.
This doesn't yet repeal the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy, but it's a significant step. The promise remains In the Works.
U.S. House of Representatives, Vote on Don't Ask, Don't Tell, May 27, 2010
The White House, Statement by the President on Votes to Repeal "Don"t Ask, Don"t Tell," May 27, 2010
Gates says repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" is no longer a question of "whether," but "how"
During his first year as president, Barack Obama and the Pentagon brass did little to advance a repeal of the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy that has governed the service of gay and lesbian Americans in the military since 1993. So we rated this promise Stalled.
But with new words of support from Obama and a plan from Defense Secretary Robert Gates, we're ready to move the needle on our Obameter.
The policy, which prohibits gays and lesbians from openly serving in the military, has been attacked for years by gay activists and was a prominent target for Obama during the 2008 presidential campaign.
In his State of the Union address on Jan. 27, 2010, Obama said, "This year, I will work with Congress and our military to finally repeal the law that denies gay Americans the right to serve the country they love because of who they are."
Six days later, Obama's top Pentagon officials offered the Senate Armed Services Committee details on how Obama's pledge will be carried out.
"The question before us is not whether the military prepares to make this change, but how we best prepare for it," said Gates."We have received our orders from the commander in chief and we are moving out accordingly."
Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Michael Mullen, speaking "for myself and myself only," added that he is in favor of"allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly" in the armed forces.
"No matter how I look at the issue, I cannot escape being troubled by the fact that we have in place a policy which forces young men and women to lie about who they are in order to defend their fellow citizens," said Mullen, the nation's top-ranking uniformed officer.
Gates and Mullen cautioned that the switch would not be immediate. Not only does Congress need to change the current law, but the Pentagon will first carry out a detailed "implementation plan" led by Pentagon legal counsel Jeh Johnson and Gen. Carter Ham, who commands the United States Army in Europe. It's likely to take months for the Pentagon to complete its plan.
In the shorter term, Gates said that the Pentagon would move toward enforcing the current policy "in a fairer manner." Gates established a timeline of 45 days for those changes.
"We believe that we have a degree of latitude within the existing law to change our internal procedures in a manner that is more appropriate and fair to our men and women in uniform," Gates said.
Gay-rights activists applauded the statements by Gates and Mullen, while also urging that the Pentagon not let the Johnson-Ham report delay implementation.
Joe Solmonese, president of the Human Rights Campaign, called Gates' and Mullen's comments a "historic step forward," while Servicemembers Legal Defense Network executive director Aubrey Sarvis intepreted their testimony as "a roadmap for full repeal."
It's too early to call this a Promise Kept. But the testimony by Gates and Mullen leaves little doubt that the administration is taking tangible steps toward a repeal. So we'll rate this one In the Works.
(Editor's note: Our original wording for this promise was "Call for repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell." But in reviewing the source of the original campaign promise, we have concluded that Obama was promising to repeal the policy, not just to speak in favor of the repeal.)
New York Times, "Top Defense Officials Seek to End ‘Don"t Ask, Don"t Tell," Feb. 2, 2010
Washington Post, "Defense officials' testimony urges lifting of 'don't ask, don't tell' policy," Feb 2, 2010
Human Rights Campaign, statement on "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" Senate Armed Services Committee hearing, Feb. 2, 2010
National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, statement on "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" Senate Armed Services Committee hearing, Feb. 2, 2010
Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, statement on "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" Senate Armed Services Committee hearing, Feb. 2, 2010
Obama's repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" on the back burner
U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said in an interview that he's not actively pursuing a repeal of the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," rule, which prohibits gays and lesbians from openly serving in the military. The admission came at the end of an interview on Fox News Sunday .
"In January, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs gave a one-word answer, 'yes,' when asked if this president is going to end the policy of 'don't ask, don't tell' for gays in the military," said moderator Chris Wallace. "Where does that stand? And why is there currently money in the 2010 budget to keep enforcing that policy?"
"Well, it continues to be the law," Gates said. "And any change in the policy would require a change in the law. We will follow the law, whatever it is.
That dialogue, though, has really not progressed very far at this point in the administration. I think the president and I feel like we've got a lot on our plates right now, and let's push that one down the road a little bit."
As for Gates' point about his full plate, the question on "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" came at the end of a long interview that covered the following: President Barack Obama's renewed military commitment to Afghanistan, Pakistan's relationship with the Taliban and other extremists, an upcoming NATO summit in Europe, North Korea's threats of a missile launch, possible billion-dollar cuts to the defense budget, Iran's nuclear capabilities and security issues on the border with Mexico.
Obama can't unilaterally undo "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." Congress has to repeal said the policy. Gates said he and Obama were pushing this promise "down the road," which indicates they're not urging its passage right now, and that the dialogue on it has not progressed. So we rate this promise Stalled.
Fox News Sunday, Interview with U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates , March 29, 2009
Change.gov, Robert Gibbs answers question on "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" , Jan. 9, 2009