President Obama announced tonight his commitment to repeal the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy about homosexuals in the U.S. military, but a local gay rights activist said he is waiting until action is taken before celebrating.
Obama spoke in Washington at a dinner held by the Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender civil rights organization.
“I am working with the Pentagon, its leadership and members of the House and Senate to end this policy,” Obama said. “I will end don’t ask, don’t tell. That is my commitment to you.”
However, Geoff Kors, executive director of San Francisco-based Equality California, the state’s largest gay civil rights group, said the president “is long on rhetoric, but short on results.”
When he was a candidate for president, Obama declared his support for the repeal of the policy, which prevents openly gay people from serving in the military. But Kors said nothing has been done since he was elected, and no timetable was given in tonight’s speech.
“We all know that President Obama can deliver a rousing speech, but the gay community is starting to wonder whether he truly wants to deliver results,” Kors said.
“He could stop discharging people tomorrow if he wanted to, but he refuses to do so,” he said. “It’s nothing new, just the same promises that he’s made for a long time.”
Kors said that gay rights supporters will have to put more pressure on national politicians if they want to see the reversal of the policy, as well as others such as the Defense of Marriage Act that defines marriage as a legal union exclusively between a man and a woman.
“I think the only way we’ll see change in Washington is if our community and allies are more aggressive,” he said.