I have been following many LGBT blogs – particularly Pam's House Blend and AMERICAblog Gay – so I was aware that there were rumors going around that President Obama would mention his desire to repeal the shameful “Don't Ask, Don't Tell” policy (courtesy of the Clinton administration) that keeps gays from openly serving in the military. These rumors were confirmed by David Axelrod, leaving us wondering: how exactly would Obama refer to an issue he has, to put it simply, punted on over the course of his first year as President?
I watched SOTU courtesy of the live stream on WhiteHouse.gov, eyes glued to my computer screen as he lectured Congress on the importance of job growth, healthcare reform, and renewed faith in government. And then finally, when he began talking about his Civil Rights Division and treating people equally (with shout-outs to hate crimes legislation and employment discrimination), I knew it was coming up: he was going to talk about DADT. But how much emphasis would he put on what is perhaps the least controversial of LGBT issues?
“This year, I will work with Congress and our military to finally repeal the law that denies gay Americans the right to serve the country they love because of who they are. It's the right thing to do.”
Applause erupted throughout the chamber.
Truth be told, I thought it was a good line. But now LGBT bloggers are asking themselves: was it enough?
I guess my response to that would be, what more did you want?
You want a longer segment? Here's an interesting tidbit: he mentioned gay people once. He mentioned women (excluding “men and women”) three times. He mentioned “working families” three times and the middle-class five times. He didn't mention black people at all. He didn't mention hispanics, he didn't mention asians, he didn't mention the disabled. If you want to talk face time, I'd say we did pretty well.
You want specifics? It would be foolish of him to set a deadline for the repeal. After all, deadlines typically end up becoming missed deadlines, so offering a deadline for any sort of legislation is risky. Obama learned that lesson after he told us health care reform would be passed before the August recess, then before Thanksgiving, then before the State of the Union address… you get the idea.
The bottom line is, he said he's going to do it. I'm obviously not telling you to just take his word for it. Quite the contrary, we need to keep up the pressure, we need to keep reminding him that there is a demographic – a rich one – whose voices need to be heard, who are yearning to be treated as equals. All I am saying is that I believe what he said. I believe that he thinks it's the right thing to do, and I believe that he intends to get it done this year.
But of course, it's not about what a president says, but about what he does. I believe that if we keep up the pressure on the Obama administration and on our congressional representatives, we will see DADT repealed this year. So let's call our Congressmen. Let's write these blog posts. Let's sign these petitions. Together, we can make sure a law that never should have been created will finally be repealed.