Thursday, August 27, 2009

Alcee Hastings Letter to Obama

Rep. Alcee Hastings sent a letter to President Barack Obama expressing his disappointing. Hastings has been pushing the White House to repeal the military Don't Ask Don't Tell policy. Hasting refered to the policy banning gays and lesbians from openly serving as ""a ridiculous, bigoted law."

August 27, 2009

The Honorable Barack H. Obama

President of the United States

The White House

Washington, DC 20500

Dear President Obama:

On June 22, I sent you a letter signed by 77 Members of Congress urging you to take leadership in working together with Congress to repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and to replace it with a policy of inclusion and non-discrimination. More than two months later, I have yet to receive an official response.

I am deeply disappointed that you have not responded to my letter and that we are not addressing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell at this time. With the recent addition of 17,000 American troops to Afghanistan and the possibility of another request for even more troops from General McChrystal in the coming weeks, I am sure that you will agree that we cannot afford to lose any of our dedicated, highly-qualified service members to Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.

As you know, we lose approximately two service members every day to Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. While I commend Secretary Gates and the Pentagon’s general counsel for their continued efforts to identify possible provisional measures, you can take action right now. I sincerely hope that your administration will make Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell a priority and do everything in its power to repeal this ridiculous, bigoted law once and for all.

Mr. President, I am extremely proud of the men and women who serve in our Armed Forces and truly appreciate the countless sacrifices they continue to make every single day to protect this nation and the American people. They deserve better than Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.

Please know that I will continue to monitor this situation closely and stand ready to assist you and my colleagues in Congress in repealing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell today.

Obama isn't going to make changes to Don't Ask Don't Tell. I detailed how President Truman's Executive Order 9981 and Defense Sec. Robert S. McNamara's Department of Defense Directive 5120.36 ended racial segregation. Afican-American men and women were allowed to serve because of two executive branch orders. Obama and Press Sec. Robert Gibbs maintain there is no legal precedent to end Don't Ask Don't Tell through the executive branch.

Q So when can we expect a durable policy on racial desegregation in the military, since that's never gone through Congress?

MR. GIBBS: Well, I'm out of my depth as a lawyer. And I'm not exactly sure the timing of when President Truman did that, but my sense is that there were also some legal proceedings around that. Try as one may, a President can't simply whisk away standing law of the United States of America. I think that's maybe been the undercurrent of some of the conversations we've had over the past few days on Guantanamo Bay.

But if you're going to change the policy, if it is the law of the land, you have to do it through an act of Congress.

Q And so there's pending legislation? I didn't see any.

MR. GIBBS: I don't know what's been introduced in Congress.

Hastings introduced an amendment to the defense spending bill. The White House never publicly backed Hastings amendment.

Hastings explains to Rachel Maddow how the White House was against his amendment.

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