President Obama reiterated his support for repealing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell this afternoon, but stopped short of calling on Congress to repeal the ban in the lame duck session, saying only that the forthcoming Pentagon study on the issue would “give us time to act in potentially during the lame duck session”:
OBAMA: “There’s going be a review that comes out at the beginning of the month that will have a surveyed attitudes and opinions within the armed forces. I will expect that Secretary of Defense Gates and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mullen, will have something to say about that review. I will look at it very carefully. But that will give us time to act in potentially during the lame duck session to change this policy. Keep in mind we got a bunch of court cases that are out there as well. And something that would be very disruptive to good order and good discipline and unit cohesion is, if we got this issue bouncing around on the courts as it already has over the last several weeks, where the Pentagon and the chain of command doesn’t know at any given time what rules they’re working under. We need to provide certainty and it’s time for us to move this policy forward, and this should not be a partisan issue.
On a conference call that followed Obama’s presser, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) — who will be responsible for bringing up repeal in the lame duck — also wouldn’t firmly commit to moving on the legislation:
REID: I had a nice conversation with the Chairman Levin today. He is anxious to move forward on that. The problem we have with a defense authorization bill is that it takes a while to get it done. If we could get some agreement from the Republicans that we could move the bill without a lot of extraneous amendments, I think it is something we can work out. Time agreements on a few amendments, that would be my goal.
Obama is correct in assuming that the final report should push conservative Democrats and Republicans to support repeal. The early leaks from the survey suggest that a majority of American troops would either not object to serving alongside openly gay troops or would raise any concerns directly with their gay peers.