Obama Faces Pressure on “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”

ABC News’ Rick Klein Reports: One little-noticed consequence of the controversy over President-elect Barack Obama’s selection of the Rev. Rick Warren to deliver the invocation at his inaugural: More pressure on him to make good -- quickly -- on his promise to overturn the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy.

The choice of Warren angered gay-rights groups, who saw the selection as something of a slap in the face.

In the aftermath, the Human Rights Campaign started a petition drive to press Obama to deliver on his promises on gay-rights issues.

Prominent on the list: “In the first 100 days develop a plan to begin the process of eliminating the failed ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ policy.”

Brad Luna, a spokesman for the group, said 50,000 people so far have signed letters to the Obama transition team calling for fast action on this and other priorities.

“What’s important for us in the wake of Rick Warren is to see how we as a community fit into the agenda of this administration,” Luna said.

That doesn’t mean the policy has to be repealed within 100 days, but it does mean the group is expecting a legislative plan that will make it possible sooner rather than later. A good step, Luna said, would be to name a point person or a blue-ribbon commission to study how it can be reversed.

“We understand that this is a policy that’s been around for more than a decade, and it’s not going to be repealed overnight,” Luna said.

President Bill Clinton famously got sidetracked in the early days of his administration over the always-controversial issue of gays in the military. That led to the current “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, where gays and lesbians can serve in the armed forces as long as they keep their sexual orientation secret; the policy has led to some 12,500 discharges in the past 15 years.

Obama said on the campaign trail that he would get rid of the policy.

Newsweek has an interesting take on one of the key people in the process: Admiral Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who isn’t taking a public position on the policy.

Dan Ephron writes: “Before offering his advice, Mullen wants time to study the issue and canvass opinions, not unlike what he does with other key issues. ‘I think I owe him [Obama] a very thorough review of the potential impact [of repealing Don't Ask, Don't Tell],’ he says.”

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