Sunday, July 12, 2009

Timing Not Timidity Drives Obama on Gay Rights

To understand how Barack Obama will overturn the ban on gays in the military, look at the administration’s strategy on achieving health care reform.

Obama’s style is to carefully assemble coalitions which include buy-in from groups traditionally opposed to reform.

Just as the President recruited business and medical industry elites into his health care strategy and proposals, he has begun that same process with military and defense department officials, who will be critically important in dismantling “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

Progressive democrats are understandably impatient with this process. Daily Beast’s Matthew Yglesias accuses the president of being timid for allowing the military to continue to dismiss gay service men and women.

While progressives may disagree with Obama’s approach, it is not driven by timidity but timing.

We know what it will look like: the President at the White House podium (or, better yet, at a military base) flanked by the Defense Secretary, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs and key members of Congress, the Pentagon and the services.

If done right, the end of legal discrimination against gays in the military will signify a spectacular leap for the gay rights movement. It will appeal to many social moderates who oppose or are ambivalent on gay marriage.

Imagine the enormous transformation for this nation when the patriotic and brave gay men and women of the military - who sacrifice and serve their country - receive the respect they deserve.

And that moment is coming.

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