On MSNBC last month, Lt. Col. Victor Fehrenbach, a decorated U.S. Air Force fighter pilot who served in both the Iraq and Afghanistan theaters, said he was told last year that he was being discharged under the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, but planned to fight it, hoping that President Obama would quickly change the policy once he assumed office.
Yesterday, the president hosted a meeting commemorating the 40th anniversary of the gay rights movement where he reiterated his desire to end the policy, saying it “doesn’t contribute to our national security.” Appearing again on MSNBC last night, Fehrenbach, who attended the White House meeting yesterday, said that Obama told him privately that a “generational gap” is the biggest obstacle standing in the way of overturning DADT:
FEHRENBACH: I told him the situation for me was urgent and I needed his help. […] He looked me right in the eye and he said, “We’re going to get this done.” And then he continued to say, you know, everyone seems to be onboard. We’ve got about 75 percent of the public that supports this. He said, but we have a generational issue. And so, there is some convincing to do, that there is a generational gap it seems and some of the senior leadership.
Fehrenbach called it a “reasonable answer,” adding that “the young officers and the young enlisted corps” he works with find this to be a “a non-issue.” “I sort of suspected that maybe the people that were a little bit disconnected were some of the senior leadership,” he said. Watch it:
Fehrenbach said that he “didn’t get the impression” that Obama was just trying to placate the gay community by offering a photo-op with the president for not acting on gay rights issues thus far. “He likened these efforts to the efforts 40, 50 years ago for the African-American community,” he said. “So…this discrimination is something he’s felt his whole life. So, this sounded like it was a personal issue for him, that he really did believe in these causes and wanted, you know, equal rights for all Americans.”