October 10th, 2009
09:54 PM ET
13 years ago

Obama: 'We should not be punishing' gays in the military

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/10/10/obama.gay.rights/art.obama.hrc.pool.jpg caption="President Obama speaks Saturday night at the Human Rights Campaign dinner in Washington."]
WASHINGTON (CNN) - President Obama told nation's largest gay rights group that his administration is "moving forward" with the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy.

"We should not be punishing patriotic Americans serving this country," Obama said.

Obama's speech at Saturday's dinner for the Human Rights Campaign, the nation's largest gay rights group, comes as activists have lost patience over the lack of change to key issues for the gay community.

"I think there was a lot of excitement that things were going to change and I think there is impatience that there hasn't been change fast enough," said Steve Elmendorf, a gay Democratic lobbyist.

Gays and lesbians expected more action from Obama, such as delivering on his campaign promise to urge Congress to pass legislation repealing "don't ask, don't tell" - a policy banning homosexuals from serving openly in the military.

Another issue is same-sex marriage, a battleground point in many states. While the president does not support same-sex marriage, he does want to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage as exclusively between a man and a woman.

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soundoff (41 Responses)
  1. Steve in Las Vegas,NV

    The military needs all the highly trained people they can get, gay or straight.

    When anyone is discharged for being gay, we all lose. We lose their dedication, willingness to serve their country and even die for it.

    We lose their numerous talents and experience to help protect our country from harm. We lose the costs for their training which can be very expensive and sometimes takes years to master. When a number of Arabic translators got discharged we lost a huge asset to our military capability that will take years to replace...if ever.

    It is time to change these policies that tend to lessen our military
    The Dutch military has gays in their military and there are very few if any problems... Our military shouls check that out! Time to change! Time to end this discrimination.

    October 10, 2009 11:38 pm at 11:38 pm |
  2. Gary-Reginald Dodge

    Defending this country from its enemies is a privilege, with an oath to protect and defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic. There is no room for either straight or gay defenders of the realm. Sex of any kind is strictly prohibited in Military Law. However, if out off uniform and off-base, they can do what they wish, as long as it does not break Federal Law while in-service to The Constitution. The United States military, with whom one signs a contract, does not own one's soul, only their battle-ready body, on-base and in uniform, and as long as there are enemies of the United States.

    October 10, 2009 11:39 pm at 11:39 pm |
  3. Robert

    Well he said he opposed any effort or law to take away rights from gay people..... and that he supported gay people having all the rights and responsibilities of marriage...

    So maybe he can hold a town meeting or two in Maine before November and urge his supporters there not to vote away the new marriage equality law the governor there signed...

    October 10, 2009 11:51 pm at 11:51 pm |
  4. Willy Brown

    Obummer will go anywhere for a vote.

    October 10, 2009 11:52 pm at 11:52 pm |
  5. Drew

    I wonder if gays, lesbians, African-Americans and other so-called minorities truly understand that when they enlist in any US military branch that they are actually sacrificing their lives for, and protecting the freedoms of, many Americans who clearly discriminate against them. Of course, it's their choice and I respect the men and women of the armed forces for their patriotism. But for me, personally, I would not be willing to fight for the freedom of people who aren't willing to fight for me. To many, America is a great place to be, but in my opinion, it needs to clean its own house's human rights issues before it can preach to other countries about theirs. The fact that there are so many anti-discrimination laws on the books make it clear that this is a troubled country. The Leader of the Free World needs to demonstrate respect for all its people including its African-American president.

    October 10, 2009 11:58 pm at 11:58 pm |
  6. Pat

    Stop just talking and do something! The Dems have a majority for a reason. America wants things to be done! JUST DO IT!

    October 11, 2009 12:02 am at 12:02 am |
  7. floridian

    "While the president does not support same-sex marriage, he does want to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage as exclusively between a man and a woman."

    Once again he is going to take both sides of the issue. By repealing the Dof MA he will eliminate the barrier against same-sex marriage but still be able to say he is against that formalized union. What a bunch of BS - a con man at his height.

    October 11, 2009 12:10 am at 12:10 am |
  8. GJ

    Amazing how we can go from an inane and hateful president like Bush to a compassionate, understanding president like Obama. Yes his actions are ultimately what matters but his words have fought back more discrimination and misunderstanding in one night than ever before. Thank you.

    October 11, 2009 12:20 am at 12:20 am |
  9. Rosebud

    If the straights can't deal with a gay man/woman in the military, then they are weak minded and shouldn't be in the military to begin with, Gay men/women have always been in positions of leadership.... just look at history of all the untold stories.

    October 11, 2009 12:33 am at 12:33 am |
  10. Jon Krieger

    I never thought I'd agree with Obama on anything,but he's right.Gays have a right to be able to join the military AND get married!In both instances they'll be fighting wars!But seriously,hating gays is so stupid,what's the point?It's not gonna make them less gayer!

    October 11, 2009 12:37 am at 12:37 am |
  11. Gabe

    Don't ask don't tell is ment to protect gay's in the military. It is possible to serve ones country and be gay, just keep your mouth shut. If you want to see discrimination at its finest then go ahead and end don't ask don't tell.

    October 11, 2009 01:18 am at 1:18 am |
  12. Nea

    If you are a Christian this is a hard thing to even try to do without feeling like you are discriminatig against Gays i believe that they should be treated the same as everyone else they are no different its their lifestyle just lke the drug addict or the theif. As far as same-sex marriage no i donot beleive in that, a marriage should and is between a man and a woman not 2 mens or 2 womens.

    October 11, 2009 01:31 am at 1:31 am |
  13. Scott

    I would like to know WHEN is America going to stop being so mamby pamby about everyones "rights" and stop being "gay Americans" Italian Americans" African Americans" "Latino Americans" and so on?... When can we ALL get over ourselves and just be AMERICANS? I mean....seriously. Come on people, get over yourself, you're NOT all "special" . your children aren't ALL the "best" at anything, there does have to be a winner and a loser in the end. Spend more time focusing on your family and what you can do to actually improve our nation rather than bickering over all of the fluff that truly is meaningless in the big picture. Let's be an America we can be proud of again, not a country riddled with nothing but whiners. Thanks.

    October 11, 2009 01:38 am at 1:38 am |
  14. mike

    uhblubla is a disgrace.

    October 11, 2009 01:57 am at 1:57 am |
  15. Sniffit

    blame bush....that is the left answer

    October 11, 2009 02:30 am at 2:30 am |
  16. bob in LA

    As a gay person, I await the repeal of this ridiculous law.
    Unlike so many other in the country, I realize this was not the number one issue on the agenda for America,
    Every group wants things done immediately and many have criticized Obama for not moving faster on some issues. The fact is, we had a far more serious mess to contend with than gays in the military, prisoners at Gitmo, immediate healthcare reform, total withdrawal without a plan for our troops from Iraq or accelerating our involvement in Afganistan.
    All of these issues are on the President's to do list and he has asked Congress to get to them.
    As a people that still do nothing to stop global warming, still buy inefficient cars, still spend foolishly, still blame others for our misfortune and still can't manage to control our own children enough to keep them in school, we sure like to complain about others.!

    October 11, 2009 02:58 am at 2:58 am |
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