January 26th, 2010
08:55 AM ET
13 years ago

Obama to talk 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' during State of the Union

Washington (CNN) - President Barack Obama is expected to discuss the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy during Wednesday night's State of the Union address, according to a top congressional leader.

Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin, D-Michigan, said he had no specifics, but said the president would bring up the issue during the speech. He made his comments after a news conference on Afghanistan Monday.

The "don't ask, don't tell" policy prohibits openly gay men and women from serving in the U.S. armed forces. The policy bans military recruiters or authorities from asking about an individual's sexual orientation, but also prohibits a service member from revealing that he or she is gay.

Obama has said he would end the policy.

Levin, who also supports ending the policy, said the committee plans to hold hearings on the issue in late January or early February.

"We've got to try to get the military leaders to speak up on this issue," Levin said. "I think there's a generational shift taking place … (but) we've also got to show sensitivity to the military."

Public opinion appears to be softening on the matter. A Gallup poll conducted in June of 2009 found that 69 percent of adult respondents favor allowing openly gay men and lesbian women to serve in the U.S. military, up six percentage points from November, 2004.

Opponents of changing the policy argue that allowing gays to serve openly would cause a breakdown of unit cohesion and morale.

Filed under: President Obama
soundoff (41 Responses)
  1. If you want something ruined, put a republican in charge

    I know republicans are afraid, (they are afraid of everything) but the time has come to end this discrimination in the military. Actually, most republican hawks have avoided military service and I really do not think it will affect them.

    January 26, 2010 09:05 am at 9:05 am |
  2. Thank you Massachusetts

    If it causes ANY breakdown of unit cohesion and morale then don't change the policy. Good grief, what's at stake here? Do we want the military to function at it's best or not?

    January 26, 2010 09:06 am at 9:06 am |
  3. Sniffit

    I wonder if the truth-o-meter will be in effect tonight? Or we could just watch his nose grow.

    January 26, 2010 09:12 am at 9:12 am |
  4. If you want something ruined, put a republican in charge

    ". . . breakdown of unit cohesion and morale." is a bunch of crap! I am really getting tired of the conservative religious right which is made up of liars and haters, not Christians.

    January 26, 2010 09:13 am at 9:13 am |
  5. Tram

    I don't care if someone's into opposite sex, same sex, best of breed - as long as someone is willing to serve this country and die defending it, their sexuality is not an issue. They pick up a gun, they stand a post, they face the enemy and they go into the battle's fray. What's next? Not letting blondes join the military? Not letting people with stubby fingers? Not letting people who believe the earth is flat?

    Come on. It's only an issue for the hater and the bigot.

    January 26, 2010 09:14 am at 9:14 am |
  6. Charles

    Honestly, the only talk I want to hear from Obama about DADT is the President describing what he has just done to combat it. For example, "This morning, I directed the DoD to suspend prosecuting Lesbian and gay soldiers while congress revisits this issue."

    More promises are not enough. They're just talk.

    January 26, 2010 09:15 am at 9:15 am |
  7. Selma Crandall

    Obama thinks he knows what's best for everyone - he does not. He should leave military issues to the military leaders as they know what is best for most effective military service.

    January 26, 2010 09:16 am at 9:16 am |
  8. Nebraska Mom

    Why would you want to bring up such a divisive subject at such a time? If the goal is to draw attention away from health care, the economy, out of control spending by Congress and the Dems toppling popularity – by all means, go ahead. Your party's base is not that stupid. If you try to throw them a progressive bone like that you are going to get hammered.

    January 26, 2010 09:16 am at 9:16 am |
  9. All the news that is fit to omit

    As someone that served unlike this fraud, it is funny that he is going to START doing things other than lying about HC.

    Just trying to play up the base before November.

    Just wondering Barry, are people still dying and going bankrupt while you "pivot" and start acting like you really care?

    All of your henchmen are on record that you are going to "change course" meaning it is NOT REAL, but based on polling.

    It isn't about policies with this fraud, it is ALL about politics.

    January 26, 2010 09:16 am at 9:16 am |
  10. liberal wingnut

    Another drop in his polls. Sexuality isnt discussed in the military anyway so why should there be an exception??

    January 26, 2010 09:18 am at 9:18 am |
  11. Cincinnatian

    It's about time they end this policy!

    January 26, 2010 09:18 am at 9:18 am |
  12. HUH

    Obama has said he would end the policy.

    He has said a lot of things....It is time for action....

    January 26, 2010 09:18 am at 9:18 am |
  13. chris in Austin

    I support gays in the Military. I was in the Navy and had been placed in the accelerated advancement program due to consistently outstanding scores (4.0 sailor here...) but was discharged for being gay. How can the military justify discharging those that excel at what they do?

    January 26, 2010 09:19 am at 9:19 am |

    Whatever. Don't ask don't tell is a crock. He should step up for human rights and equality and let people be who they really are. he completely bailed on Maine in the gay marriage issue and the haters won the vote against marriage. Thanks for nothing Obama.

    January 26, 2010 09:19 am at 9:19 am |
  15. roflstomp

    "Opponents of changing the policy argue that allowing gays to serve openly would cause a breakdown of unit cohesion and morale."

    Absolutely true. Unit cohesion and trust within a unit is much more important than individual needs. Ask anyone in the service who is truly committed to their duty, such as myself. It's not that we in the service hate gays, it's the fact that animosity would inevitably happen and that's a liability a unit can't afford. The reality on the ground is that our country is not at all like European countries in terms of "openness" to alternative lifestyles.

    Another thing to note is that service in the military is not some God-given right for the people of this country; it's purely an individual choice and if a person does not agree with military policies, they do not have to join. The point of the service and those who serve is not to be "sensitive" or "open-minded", the main goal is to protect the country and to destroy America's enemies.

    January 26, 2010 09:20 am at 9:20 am |
  16. Doug

    NEWs IN THE TICKER: OBAMA SAYS FOCUS ON MAJOR CHALLENGES, NOT BOOSTING RATINGS..........and then this story of a campaign playback, not enough gays in the military, you have got to be kidding, oh yes, he gets it.

    January 26, 2010 09:23 am at 9:23 am |
  17. Kyle, Virginia

    Obama better announce a "stop-loss" and remove DADT right away.

    January 26, 2010 09:25 am at 9:25 am |
  18. Crystal

    "Since my popularity is slipping, I will return to making promises and giving lip service all of you down-trodden people who got me elected(until after mid-term elections, at which point I will quickly forget you all again)."

    January 26, 2010 09:26 am at 9:26 am |
  19. meg, Massachusetts

    Relax people, it's only been one year !

    Why is it that Obama is given one year to clean up this mess and g. Bush took 8 years to cause it?

    Come on people, be honest with yourselves if you can, it is not his policies that you don't like, is it?

    Were you complaining about the deficit when bush was in office?
    Were you complaining about job lost under Bush ?
    Did you complain about all the money wasted on the bogus war in Iraq?

    No you didn't why is that, maybe it's because of our presidents tan!

    You can denie it all you want but you know and we all know the truth !

    Go ahead, return to the days of Bush, that really turned out great didn't it !!.

    January 26, 2010 09:27 am at 9:27 am |
  20. Slider

    Yup, this is what happens when this country elects a Democrat.

    See, the country is being led by a president and a Congress that have been both fiscally and monetarily irresponsible. Millions are out of work; the stimulus failed; foreign investors are worried about their investments and are not encouraged to continue to buy new debt.

    Then, we have either lost, or completely lost the confidence and steady stewardship of our allies overseas. Our foreign policy is a sham of knee-bending apologies that kowtow to our enemies and those countries that do not have our best interests at heart.

    But, what does this president, and this Congress think is so important despite the flailing incompetence of both?

    Right. Gays in the military.

    Mr. President, the only thing queer here is your agenda.

    January 26, 2010 09:28 am at 9:28 am |
  21. Mike1952

    If he does away with this it will be another big mistake. Morale is extremely important in the military. If that is damaged kiss the professional military goodbye.

    January 26, 2010 09:30 am at 9:30 am |
  22. JC

    JC is rooting for you to stay the course

    January 26, 2010 09:31 am at 9:31 am |
  23. aliou

    same sex sex shouldn't be national policy, and no one else's business. I am neither against it nor for it. It is a private matter like who I chose to sleep with. No one not even the government should interfer with it or regulate it. It's insane to be talking about private sex in public.

    January 26, 2010 09:32 am at 9:32 am |
  24. Me

    Would any other employer in this country be able to fire a person because they are gay?

    January 26, 2010 09:34 am at 9:34 am |
  25. edward

    Long overdue!

    January 26, 2010 09:37 am at 9:37 am |
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