Obama admin. won’t appeal DADT case to Supreme Court, but will “defend the statute when it is challenged in the justice system”

The Wall Street Journal looked at the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell issue today through the case of Major Margaret Witt. The Obama administration didn’t appeal Witt’s win in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, which was a good sign. But, the Obama administration is going to keep defending the law at the District Court level, which isn’t good. John explained the mixed signals we’ve all been seeing from the Obama White House:

Some advocates for gay rights say they are becoming frustrated with what they see as mixed messages on the law on gays in the military. “This is a positive step but it’s in the middle of a slew of negative steps so we’re not really sure what’s going on,” said John Aravosis, an advocate who blogs on the issue.

Mr. Aravosis said he is concerned that the White House Web site section on civil rights was recently edited and some of Mr. Obama’s promises to the gay and lesbian community were no longer listed, including his promise to repeal the don’t ask, don’t tell policy. After complaints, a reference to the military policy was restored.

Someone over at the White House needs to figure out that this isn’t 1993. It’s 2009 and the LGBT community is much more energized than ever before. That whole Prop. 8 experience made us realize that rights can be taken away. I’m starting to get the sense that gay Americans are viewing their rights the way gun owners do. That’s the level of intensity we need. And, that’s something our allies in the White House don’t quite get.

This quote is particularly disturbing:

White House spokesman Ben LaBolt said the president remains committed to repealing the law “in a sensible way that strengthens our armed forces and our national security” but added: “Until Congress passes legislation repealing the law, the administration will continue to defend the statute when it is challenged in the justice system.”

If you listen to the language of the Obama administration, “sensible” and “sustainable” are the code words for not acting on the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” Mushy words. But the bigger question is: Why defend a law that the President wants to repeal?

Is this defense of laws with which Obama disagrees consistent across all policy areas, or just gay issues? An administration doesn’t have to defend a law with which it doesn’t agree or thinks is unconstitutional. Hell, Bush didn’t even follow laws that he disagreed with.

There’s a case in the pipeline on the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) already, which challenges Section 3 of that law. The lawsuit, Gill, et al. v. Office of Personnel Management, et al., was filed in March. The head of the Office of Personnel Management is gay, coincidentally. Will the Obama administration defend DOMA in court, too? Will the gay head of OPM defend DOMA?

If the White House thinks signing the hate crimes bill is enough, which it appears they may do soon, they’re wrong. And, a beautiful proclamation about gay pride won’t cut it either. The times have changed and the President and his people need to catch up — fast.


On October 27, 2010, Joe was one of five bloggers who interviewed President Obama. Joe is a DC-based political consultant with over twenty-five years of experience at both the state and federal level. Joe has managed political operations and legislative efforts for both candidates and issues-based organizations. For seven years, he was the Director of State Legislation at Handgun Control, Inc. He served as that organization's first Political Director during the 2000 cycle. Joe is a graduate of the University of Maine School of Law. In addition, he has a Masters in Public Administration from Lehigh University and received his B.A. from the University of New Hampshire. Joe also has a fun dog, Petey, a worthy successor to Boomer, who got Joe through eight years of Bush and Cheney. Joe likes to think he is a world class athlete having finished the 2005 Chicago Marathon in the time of 4:10. He has completed six other marathons as well -- and is still determined to break the four hour mark.

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