Obama: Go slower on 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell'
By Larry Eichel
Inquirer Senior Writer
In an interview with Mark Segal of the Philadelphia Gay News, Barack Obama indicated that he would not proceed unilaterally in fulfilling his promise to do away with the "don't ask, don't tell" policy for gays in the military.
Instead, the Democratic presidential candidate said that he would work through a step-by-step process with the military brass.
"The reason," Obama said, "is because I want to make sure that when we revert 'don't ask, don't tell,' it's gone through a process and we've built a consensus or at least a clarity of that, of what my expectations are, so that it works."
Under the current policy, adopted in 1993 under President Bill Clinton, military recruits are not supposed to be asked about their sexual orientation. Clinton had wanted to let gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender individuals serve openly, but he encountered resistance.
Obama also said he would be reluctant to instruct his attorney general to go to court to try to overturn the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, which denies federal recognition of same-sex marriages and gives states the right not to recognize such unions.
"I think we're going to have to take a different approach," he said, "but I am absolutely committed to the concept [that] it is not necessary." He said he would prefer to see Congress change the law.
Obama pledged to make the protection of gays from imprisonment and torture in other countries part of his human-rights policy, calling it "not acceptable" to exclude such concerns from "our broader human-rights advocacy."
The telephone interview was conducted Tuesday by Segal, publisher of the Philadelphia paper, on behalf of the Gay History Project, which includes a number of publications serving the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community.
Via Independent Gay Forum.