The White House keeps saying that “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” must be repealed by Congress, as if the Obama administration has no role in that process. Today, invoking Dan Choi and Victor Fehrehbach, the Senate Majority Leader told Obama that he has to get involved to make the repeal happen:
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid ramped up the pressure on the White House and the military to repeal its “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy with a direct appeal to President Obama and Defense Secretary Robert Gates last week.
In letters to Gates and Obama dated Sept. 24th and obtained by HuffPost, the Nevada Democrat asks each to “bring to Congress your recommendations on DADT” — the policy that allows gay or lesbian Americans to serve in the military as long as they don’t mention that they are gay or lesbian.
The policy, which is not applied consistently, has nevertheless cost the military valuable soldiers, sailors, pilots and translators.
Reid called for the policy to be repealed earlier this year and former president Bill Clinton, who instituted it, has called it one of his chief regrets.
A legislative fix could be difficult; it is not at all clear that the Senate could find 60 votes to overcome a likely filibuster. Reid, therefore, is calling in Obama.
“As Congress considers future legislative action, we believe it would be helpful to hear your views on the policy,” he writes. “Your leadership in this matter is greatly appreciated and needed at this time.”
Obama’s leadership has been needed since January 20th. He could have used executive authority to stop Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, but didn’t and won’t.