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Saturday, October 10, 2009

The President's Plate

Posted by on Sat, Oct 10, 2009 at 2:33 PM

Andrew mentioned the president's plate. Apologists for the president constantly cite his plate—there's a lot on it, dontcha know—and critics of the president feel obliged to at least acknowledge the state of the president's plate. But I don't have any sympathy for the president's plate so long as he goes on expelling gays and lesbians from the military.

Enforcing DADT—tossing gay servicemembers out of the military—eats up time, effort, and resources. The president has the power to suspend enforcement of DADT right now, just like his Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napalatino had the power to suspend enforcement of the "widow's penalty." But he refuses to do it. And the president's refusal to suspend enforcement of DADT—which 76 members of Congress asked him to do in a letter back in June—hasn't made the issue go away. DADT is always in the news and the president and his staff are constantly having to address the issue, and make excuses, and craft justifications, because the issue is unresolved, because the president hasn't taken what action he can. Ending DADT—suspending DADT by executive order and tasking Congress with working on a repeal—would mean one less thing for military has to do (no more witch hunts, no more trials, no more costly expulsions of highly-trained Air Force pilots or fluent Arab linguists and West Point grads during wartime), and it would be one less thing for the president to do (no more having to defend his inaction on DADT).

Suspending enforcement of DADT—which the president has the authority to do—would instantly shift the debate to Congress. It would take DADT off the president's plate. What to do about DADT would land on Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi's plate. Scrap DADT? Reform DADT? It's not the president's problem anymore, it's Congress's problem. And if Congress didn't act—and that's a mighty small if—if would be a logistical nightmare for for the next president, Democrat or Republican, to reverse Obama's suspension of DADT.

So long as the president refuses to remove DADT from his own plate—and I'm not holding my breath—I don't have much sympathy for him where his plate is concerned. Yeah, there's a lot on his plate. No doubt. But until he takes DADT off his plate I'm not interested in listing to him or his apologists whine.


Comments (22) RSS

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Right the fuck on! Gay Sub vet here. My rep in the house is the ONLY republican co-sponsor of HR-1283. She has more balls than Reid and Obama and more guts than Pelosi on this. Murphy D in PA is the lead on this now. Let him know you support repeal of DADT, and bonus, he is smokin' hot.
Posted by gregory gookins on October 10, 2009 at 2:42 PM · Report this
In the most vocal plea yet for the White House to take the lead in pushing for gays and lesbians to be allowed to serve openly in the military, 77 Democratic lawmakers today urged President Obama to use his executive powers to order a halt to military discharges under the controversial "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" law and work aggressively with Congress to pass new legislation to overturn what they describe as a discriminatory policy that harms national security.

"We urge you to exercise the maximum discretion legally possible in administering Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell until Congress repeals the law," states the letter, organized by Rep. Alcee Hastings, a Democrat of Florida. "To this end, we ask that you direct the Armed Services not to initiate any investigation of service personnel to determine their sexual orientation, and that you instruct them to disregard third party accusations that do not allege violations of the Uniform Code of Military Justice."…
Posted by Dan Savage on October 10, 2009 at 3:08 PM · Report this
MirrorMan 5
Wow! "Posted by A Legal Mind who is much, much smarter than Dan Savage " should learn to read. Or maybe they aren't qualified? Sounds like "Posted by A Legal Mind who is much, much smarter than Dan Savage" is someone who it could be said "that you simply don't know what the fuck you're talking about."

Yep. Pretty sure!
Posted by MirrorMan on October 10, 2009 at 3:15 PM · Report this
theophrastus 6
Of course Obama should immediately sign away DADT; this is understood by any sensible person. So it begs the question why doesn't he do it? Does anyone have an answer that isn't encompassed by "political calculus" or "Obama is a closet homophobe"? I'm seriously curious.
Posted by theophrastus on October 10, 2009 at 3:20 PM · Report this
Barack Obama: less executive authority than his own secretary of Homeland Security.…
Posted by Dan Savage on October 10, 2009 at 3:23 PM · Report this
MirrorMan 10
2 & 7 (probably the same idiot), as Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces, all Obama has to do is sign the Executive Order halting DADT. Then the politicians take over. Read a little history sometime, or maybe some books on government.

Talk about a jackass!
Posted by MirrorMan on October 10, 2009 at 3:26 PM · Report this
C'mon, Dan, you know the weakness in this argument even as you make it. What's on Congress's plate is on the President's plate. And given that next year is an election year in which the Democrats are very much in danger of loosing some swing districts, the Congressional debate is unlikely to go the way you want, because the last thing the swing district Democrats want is to be seen as is friends of the gays.

There is no magic poiltical jujitsu move the Democrats can make to move gay rights forward and not distract from and endanger their other objectives. Given that fact, the President and the Democrats' leadership have decided that their other objectives more important than gay rights. If you had to personally make that decision given those trade-offs, rather than pretending you can have your cake and eat it to, then I suspect you would make the same call.
Posted by David Wright on October 10, 2009 at 3:42 PM · Report this
Loveschild 16
14 Forget it, he doesn't want to understand. He's the biggest whiner there is and what gets me is that he really expects people to believe that he had " much sympathy" for the President's tough position, he never had it. This is the true Dan, and he wants the President to act just like Bush and go above the law and all just because he doesn't stop bitching about this.
Posted by Loveschild on October 10, 2009 at 3:43 PM · Report this
Vince 17
I trust the President knows what he's doing. His calculations aside, there are people who are suffering because they want to serve our nation. That's intolerable.
Posted by Vince on October 10, 2009 at 3:54 PM · Report this
memorex 20
Under 10 U.S.C. § 12305 (“Authority of the President to Suspend Certain Laws Relating to Promotion, Retirement, and Separation”), Congress grants the President authority to suspend the separation of military members during any period of national emergency in which members of a reserve component are serving involuntarily on active duty.

Quotation from here:…
Posted by memorex on October 10, 2009 at 4:07 PM · Report this
Sargon Bighorn 25
Does the plate have that fancy gold leaf around the rim? I really like that kind of plate.
Posted by Sargon Bighorn on October 10, 2009 at 4:19 PM · Report this
gfish 26
You think putting it on Reid and Pelosi's plate is a *good* argument? Obama has obviously made the judgement that getting health care reform through is the most important for the country right now, possibly followed by energy. Looked at objectively, I probably even agree. I suspect he's pretty happy keeping the DADT pressure on himself and off of Congress. Is it a shitty thing to do? Yes, probably. Does he feel bad about it? I hope so. But we didn't elect him to be a nice guy. Someone has to prioritize.
Posted by gfish on October 10, 2009 at 4:23 PM · Report this
memorex 28
The President has explicit authority to suspend DADT for as long as we are at war. It doesn't repeal the law and it isn't permanent, but it would temporarily spare gay vets from getting booted out until Congress can find the time to fix this.
Posted by memorex on October 10, 2009 at 4:29 PM · Report this
jimmy 30
The Military Readiness Enhancement Act is in the House Committee on Armed Services and the Subcommittee on Military Personnel. The Senate hasn't taken it up yet.
Posted by jimmy on October 10, 2009 at 5:17 PM · Report this
Catalina Vel-DuRay 33
I have a tendency to roll my eyes when I read one of Dan's panty-in-a-bunch posts about DADT or any other gay rights issue. It is my opinion, as an American who is also a gay man, that it can wait until much more important issues are settled. (Please note: If that makes me an apologist, or whatever else you want to call me, that's fine. Rest assured, I've been called worse. But as I've stated before, I never regarded Obama as any sort of savior - merely a foot in the door towards reforming a compromised system - so I feel neither the need to apologize for him or be particularly surprised by his inaction on this.)

But then I remember that while gay/civil rights issues are not the most important issue (in my opinion) they are still very important issues, and it's crucial to keep the political heat on - particularly since the "leaders" of the "gay community" (whatever that is) can't seem to do it themselves.

Personally, I would prefer to see this come through the Democratic controlled congress and signed off on by Obama, rather than by suspension via executive action until Congress can take it up. After all, the majority of American support allowing gays in the military, and if the Congress does it, it reinforces that opinion, rather than making it look like an Obama action, which comes with its own challenges. Plus, if Congress removes the ban, it will make it much harder, politically speaking, for another Congress to reinstate it.

Besides, Obama is going to have not only a full plate, but an entire buffet dropped on him when they start to take up the energy bill in earnest. If you think health care is bad, just wait until the coal, nuclear, railroad and utility interests all start in on him.

So I applaud Dan and others for keeping the heat on about Gay rights, and hope that everyone is there to support Obama - or criticize him, if need be - when the climate/energy legislation starts in earnest. If we don't fix that, it won't matter what happens to us gay folk, for we as a planet will all be screwed.
Posted by Catalina Vel-DuRay on October 10, 2009 at 5:45 PM · Report this
Matt from Denver 35
Knowledgeable lawyers don't post anonymously. Get a life, jackass, you're not fooling or impressing anyone.
Posted by Matt from Denver on October 10, 2009 at 6:02 PM · Report this
Posted by Proteus on October 10, 2009 at 6:11 PM · Report this
Why is there so much talk about DADT? Why not more pressure on DOMA and ENDA?

Yes, I realize that Obama can just use executive order to end it, unlike DOMA. But it's largely a symbolic issue (except for a very small group of people) and ending it will be mostly a symbolic victory, like the hate crimes bill.

DOMA is of actual importance to hundreds of thousands of people. Our situation is OK now, but for a while we weren't sure how we would tackle the immigration issue - repealing just section 3 of DOMA would resolve that for every couple where one or more are not US citizens. We will be paying $4000 extra in taxes this year because of DOMA (my husband is not my spouse for federal purposes, I can't declare him to be my dependent because he's not a US citizen/permanent resident). And we have a kid, for Christ's sake, it's not like we wouldn't have a good reason to save those $4000 this year. And next year.
Posted by turing on October 10, 2009 at 6:16 PM · Report this
Half-assed lawyer is correct that Obama cannot unilaterally "end" DADT in the sense of overturning or repealing the law. However, as @20 points out, he does have the legal authority to suspend enforcement of DADT during wartime.
Posted by BABH on October 10, 2009 at 6:42 PM · Report this
Matthew 'Anc' Johnson 39
Just to throw this out there, but there are not any witch hunts.

Even us dumb infantrymen get EO Briefings (equal opportunity) every quarter and every one since I joined in 06 made it very clear that Army policy is 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell, Don't Harass'.' I have also taken classes at two levels of NCO Academy system (WLC and BNOC) and under Army policy someone has to make actions (ie engage in homosexual activity and provide proof) statements ('I love the cock') or participate (in a homosexual marriage or domestic partnership) to fall under DADT.

Don't get me wrong, I disagree with DADT, but I don't like how my service is often described in the press. There is no inquisition. There is just a system that keeps our brothers and sisters from openly being themselves. A crime and black mark on our country and the Army, but leave it at that. No need for the hyperbole.
Posted by Matthew 'Anc' Johnson on October 10, 2009 at 6:58 PM · Report this
Matthew 'Anc' Johnson 45
@43 It has nothing to do with nuances, but instead straight (heh) out (heh heh) falsehoods. There are no witchhunts. As disgraceful as DADT is, those members kicked out by the military under are kicked out by their own volition. They made the choice (correct IMO) to out themselves to further their cause.

In fact, I think it does a disservice to them, and their bold actions to paint is as the evil military going after them, when in fact they made the conscience decision to stand up and fight the injustice.
Posted by Matthew 'Anc' Johnson on October 10, 2009 at 8:52 PM · Report this
Gitai 46
You know, I am willing to cut Obama some slack, and I'll tell you exactly how much. The second, the absolute fucking second he signs something on healthcare, that's it. That's the biggest initiative the man has for either of this two terms, and as he is a politician, I do understand him wanting to put that first.

But after that, no fucking more. The next thing he signs his name to should be an order ending DADT.
Posted by Gitai on October 10, 2009 at 9:15 PM · Report this

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