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Obama holding ‘preliminary talks’ on repealing military gay ban

Jessica Geen May 11, 2009
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The Obama administration is holding “preliminary discussions” on repealing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell but change may take months, if at all, an advisor to the President has said.

Speaking yesterday on ABC’s This Week with George Stephanopoulos, White House National Security Advisor James Jones said he didn’t know whether to the policy would ever be overturned, describing it as a “complicated” and “sensitive” issue.

“It’s a complicated issue. It will be teed up appropriately and it will be discussed in the way the president does things, which is be very deliberative, very thoughtful, seeking out all sides on the issue,” Jones said.

When asked if Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell would ever be repealed, he said: “I don’t know. We’ll have to – the president has said that he is in favour of that. We’ll just wait – we’ll have to wait and see – as a result of the deliberations and as a result of the – in the months and weeks ahead. We have a lot on our plate right now. It has to be teed up at the right time so – to do this the right way.”

On the possibility of suspending prosecutions and investigations while the review continues, Jones said: “Well, maybe that’s an option that eventually we’ll get to but we’re not there now.”

Last week, Lieutenant Dan Choi, the National Guard soldier who publicly came out live on national television, was dismissed from duty for “homosexual conduct”.

Appearing on the Rachel Maddow show after receiving his dismissal, Choi vowed to fight the decision “tooth and nail”.

Another servicemember, Lieutenant Sandy Tsao, an Army Officer about to be discharged from the military because she’s a lesbian, received a handwritten letter from President Obama this week.

The letter stated: “Thanks for your wonderful and thoughtful letter. It is because of outstanding Americans like you that I committed to changing our current policy. Although it will take some time to complete, partly because it needs congressional action, I intend to fulfill my commitment, Barack Obama.”

Around 12,500 servicemembers have been ejected since the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy’s introduction in 1994, including 60 Arabic linguists.

Related topics: Americas, Employment

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