Report: Obama's Free Pass on DADT

Print Date: 
July 28, 2009
The Advocate at
Amita Parashar
A new report from the Palm Center blasts LGBT groups, including the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, for not pressing President Obama to issue an executive order to stop enforcement of "don't ask, don't tell." The report claims the gay community has "taken its foot off the gas pedal" by focusing solely on the legislature to overturn the ban.

"Calling for an exclusive emphasis on legislative repeal is perhaps the greatest gift gay rights groups could give the White House," the report reads.

“A Self-Inflicted Wound: How and Why Gays Give the White House a Free Pass on 'Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,'” advocates a two-part strategy: an executive order to immediately stop further discharges of military personnel, followed by a legislative repeal of the ban. It blames the "chorus of gay and gay-friendly activists, journalists, and politicos" who have recently pushed for legislative action to counter the White House's inaction on the issue.

“Some members of our community have been circulating misleading arguments which ended up as talking points for the president of the United States," said Aaron Belkin, Palm Center director and author of the report. “It is not our job to provide Washington with reasons to continue to discriminate.”

In May, the Palm Center, a social research institute working to repeal the ban on gays serving openly in the military, released a legal analysis which showed the president does have the legal authority to suspend discharges under "don't ask, don't tell."

Gay rights advocates, including the SLDN and the Human Rights Campaign, have focused on getting a "don't ask, don't tell" repeal through Congress largely because they feel an executive order could be overturned by the next president. The Palm Center dismissed this argument in the report, saying once gays are allowed to serve openly, it will be impossible to "put the toothpaste back into the tube" and reinstate the ban.