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The GW Hatchet


The GW Hatchet

Serving the GW Community since 1904

The GW Hatchet

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Students sound off on Obama’s promise to end “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”

President Barack Obama promised last Saturday night to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” but some activists on campus say he is merely rehashing past campaign vows and voiced frustrated with another promise to end the military policy without a timetable.

Speaking to an audience of nearly 3,000 people at a fundraising dinner for the Human Rights Campaign, a gay advocacy group, Obama said he would end the policy barring openly gay men and women from serving in the military, but gave no timeline for the policy reversal.

“I will end ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” Obama said. “That is my commitment to you.”

Openly gay students on campus say they are pleased the president acknowledged the discriminatory policy but say he still needs to fulfill campaign promises.

“This is by no means any great revelation,” sophomore Todd Belok said. “Only time will tell if he acts on his words.”

Belok was kicked out of GW’s Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps program last December after two fellow midshipmen saw him kiss another male at a party.

He previously said serving in the military was his dream since young and was devastated he would not be given a chance to serve his country.

Since his dismissal, Belok has been working to bring national attention to “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” He helped organize Saturday’s flash protest against the policy which ended in a ceremonial ‘ripping off of the duct tape’ to symbolize the thousands of men and women serving in silence.

President of Allied in Pride Michael Komo said he is glad the president “backed his original promise” but is disappointed “there is no timetable.”

“Not only is this important for us to participate in on a national level but it affects us on a personal level,” he said.

Since taking office nine months ago, Obama has made limited progress on equality issues the gay community values, isolating supporters, Komo said.

Obama has advocated for hate-crime legislation and it appears the House will pass the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, which will outlaws discrimination based on color, religion, disability, gender or sexual orientation, of which disability, gender and sexual orientation are additions to previous hate-crime legislation.

Obama, a practicing Christian, says he is against gay marriage but he has put forth a package of domestic partnership benefits for federal workers, The New York Times reported. The package was criticized for not including health benefits.

President and co-founder of the GW Veterans Brian Hawthorne said the outdated policy should have been removed “years and years ago,” adding that “more people have been dismissed because of this policy than any other [military] policy,” which “hurts” the military.

“I am looking forward to the day where [gay men and women] can serve our country openly,” the Iraq War veteran said.

NROTC, the only organization on campus that would see administrative changes from the policy reversal, said they would follow the new law.

“We are obligated to comply with the US Code Title 10 governing the armed forces,” Captain Brian Gawne said in an e-mail. “If that law changes, we are legally and morally bound to comply as directed.”

If “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” is ended, Gawne said the unit would be trained in the new policy.

“For any major policy change, the Department of Defense provides significant guidance to subordinate commands on how to implement the new policy,” he said.

Andrew Clark, a spokesman for the College Republicans, said Obama is trying to appease “his liberal collation” with promises to end “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

“The GW College Republicans will support whatever policies make our military as effective as it can be,” Clark said in an e-mail. “There is far from a consensus on DADT, and we hope that the White House will engage in a dialogue with our military generals and commanders to determine the best course of action.”

Representatives of the GW College Democrats did not return a request for comment.

While “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” is an issue that spurs partisanship and emotions, Komo said that if the gay community, and its supporters, wants to see their emotions translated into law, they must “keep pressure on [Obama].”

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