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Friday, July 25, 2014

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From the Daily: It's time to repeal "don't ask, don't tell"

BY THE MICHIGAN DAILY

Published November 17, 2010

During his campaign, President Barack Obama said that overturning the military’s ban on openly gay members would be a priority of his administration. But there has been no improvement since he took office. Obama has failed to take action and the U.S. Congress has been unable to pass legislation on the issue. Earlier this month, the U.S. Supreme Court stated that the ban could be enforced even while it's under scrutiny by a federal appeals court. But the federal government needs to put a stop to this archaic ban. Congress should repeal the ban. In the meantime, Obama should issue an executive order to halt enforcement of the ban.

To sidestep the Defense Department's ban on openly gay people serving in the military, President Bill Clinton created DADT in 1994. The executive order allows LGBT community members to serve in the military with the condition that they do not reveal their sexual orientation. On Nov. 12, the U.S. Supreme Court decided that the military could continue to enforce DADT while a federal appeals court deliberates on whether or not it will see a case determining its legality. The decision overrules a California federal district judge.

Prior to the Supreme Court’s decision on Friday, The Washington Post published a summary of a report by a Pentagon study group that has not yet been released to the public. According to two anonymous individuals “familiar” with the document, the report includes the results of a survey that indicated that most military personnel wouldn’t object to serving alongside a member of the LGBT community — though about 40 percent of the Marine Corps expressed concern about lifting the ban. The report included a potential plan to end DADT’s enforcement.

According to a September Gallup poll, 69 percent of Americans are in favor of repealing DADT. The survey summarized in The Washington Post article suggests members of the military share this growing acceptance. The results from these studies indicate that the repeal of DADT would not negatively affect the military’s functioning. There is little reason to keep the draconian policy in place.

Following the midterm election, the U.S. Congress has entered a lame-duck session. Currently, Congress has the power to reverse a discriminatory policy. Efforts to repeal the ban have stalled in the Senate in recent months, but now outgoing senators have nothing to lose. Now is the time to push legislation through and stop discrimination against members of the LGBT community who want to serve their country in the armed forces.

But Obama has the opportunity to reverse the policy as well. He ran on a promise to repeal DADT — and it’s time for him to deliver. He should put pressure on Congress to pass legislation ending the ban. In the interim, he should enact an executive order that stalls enforcement of the ban completely.

In the end, Congress must be the institution to end this discriminatory policy. But just as Clinton initiated DADT with an executive order, Obama should issue an executive order that puts a hold on its enforcement until the ban is legislatively overturned.