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October 06, 2009

Capehart: repealing DADT takes time, but patience is in short supply

Jonathan Capehart blogs at WaPo about people's frustrations with President Obama's perceived slowness to act on ending the military gay ban:

Some folks are pointing to a response from Gen. James L. Jones, the National Security Adviser, to CNN interviewer John King's question about don't ask don't tell on Sunday as evidence that President Obama won't fulfill his promise to end the ban on gays and lesbians serving openly in the military. I've followed this very closely, and I just don't think the criticism is warranted -- yet....

I know of two White House meetings in which the president made it clear to Defense Secretary Robert Gates that he wanted an end to the ban.

Exactly when to make the grand (and long-overdue) move has always been the tough part. Obama believes that Congress should repeal the law. But he also knows that bringing the military along first is essential. Without it, Congress could at best block attempts to repeal the law or at worse approve something much worse. Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-Pa.) is working hard to get the support of his House colleagues to repeal "don't ask don't tell."

But this takes time -- and patience. And patience on this issue and a host of others is increasingly in short supply.

What would not take time is for the President to issue a stop-loss order, which would end DADT-related discharges immediately. The President has resisted doing so. While I agree with him that Congress should act to repeal the policy, that does not prevent him from acting now to stop the harm that the policy continues to do to our military readiness and to the servicemembers involved. The response to frustration over this is not to write off the President, but to apply constructive pressure. In other words, creating change requires not quitting, but staying and fighting.

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