Obama is “only hope” for gays serving openly in US military

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Democrats convening the first congressional hearing on the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy since its enactment 15 years ago say electing Barack Obama to the White House is the only hope at getting it repealed.

“We need a new President in order to get this passed” — specifically, a President Obama, Representative Ellen Tauscher, (Democrat, California), told reporters on a conference call on Tuesday convened by the Human Rights Campaign and the Servicemembers Legal Defence Network, according to the Associated Press.

While Obama supports a repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and says he will work with military leaders to get it done, his opponent John McCain thinks the existing policy is working.

Today’s hearing, convened by subcommittee chair Rep. Susan Davis, (Democrat, California), will include three former military officials who want to overturn the policy and two witnesses who oppose gays serving in the military.

She says no officials from the Pentagon have been asked to appear because “it’s a waste of time… They always have the same answer”—that they’ll follow the law, she said.

According to Tauscher, the policy to repeal the ban on gays in the military has 133 sponsors, but says she has no plans to bring the bill to a vote this year, adding that she has no intention in a “show vote” that her side might lose.

According to a Washington Post/ABC News poll, support for gays and lesbians to serve in the military is overwhelmingly positive, with 75 percent of Americans supporting a repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” up from 61 percent in 2001 and 44 percent in 1993.

“We believe that this is a good first step to have this hearing, but we don’t believe that this bill will come forward until we have a new President,” Tauscher said.

Though Democrats seem to agree that Obama is the best chance gays and lesbians have at overturning “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” in a recent interview with The Advocate, the Democratic Presidential hopeful was vague, saying only that he can ‘reasonably see’ a repeal of the current ban if elected President.

“Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” was enacted shortly after President Bill Clinton took office on a vow to open military service to gays and lesbians.

The resulting policy, both the President and Hillary Clinton said in later years, was the result of a terrible “compromise” of her husband’s Presidency.

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