- (Photo: AP Images / Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
President Obama laid out his stance on same-sex marriage and the hotly debated "don't ask, don't tell" policy on Wednesday during a meeting with five popular progressive bloggers at the White House.
He said his attitude on gay marriage is evolving and mentioned that a strategy is in place to pass the bill that would repeal the military policy banning gays and lesbians from serving openly.
Overall, he stressed that he has moved forward on a whole range of LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) issues and even touted that he has appointed more openly gay people to more positions in government (more than 150) than any president in history.
"[T]his notion somehow that this administration has been a source of disappointment to the LGBT community, as opposed to a stalwart ally of the LGBT community, I think is wrong," he told Joe Sudbay of AMERICABlog.
Outlining his position on gay marriage, the president said he has been unwilling to sign on to it "primarily because of my understandings of the traditional definitions of marriage."
He added, "But I also think you’re right that attitudes evolve, including mine. And I think that it is an issue that I wrestle with and think about because I have a whole host of friends who are in gay partnerships. I have staff members who are in committed, monogamous relationships, who are raising children, who are wonderful parents.
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"And I care about them deeply. And so while I’m not prepared to reverse myself here, sitting in the Roosevelt Room at 3:30 in the afternoon, I think it’s fair to say that it’s something that I think a lot about."
The president also noted that "it's pretty clear where the trendlines are going" regarding gay marriage legislation.
Obama has stated repeatedly that he plans to reverse the federal Defense of Marriage Act, the 1996 law that defines marriage as a legal union between one man and one woman. He has called it discriminatory.
Traditional marriage proponents, meanwhile, are standing by to defend the law.
Regarding his stance on "don't ask, don't tell," Obama said the policy is wrong and doesn't serve U.S. national security.
"It is not just harmful to the brave men and women who are serving, and in some cases have been discharged unjustly, but it doesn't serve our interests – and I speak as Commander-in-Chief on that issue," he told AMERICABlog.
And the best way to overturn it, he said, is through Congress. Already, the House has passed it and he has also gotten the support of the Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Obama added.
"I was very deliberate in working with the Pentagon so that I’ve got the Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs being very clear about the need to end this policy," he explained. "That is part of a strategy that I have been pursuing since I came into office. And my hope is that will culminate in getting this thing overturned before the end of the year."
Conservatives fear repealing DADT could negatively impact the military readiness and unit cohesion especially during ongoing operations.
Conservative Christian groups have also been vocal in their opposition to overturning the policy. Dozens of military chaplains have come out expressing fear that normalizing homosexual conduct in the armed forces would threaten chaplains' and service members' religious liberty. They would have to water down their teachings and their counseling, especially in regards to marriage, would be affected, they argue.
Last week, the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals granted a temporary stay on a federal judge's ruling. U.S. District Judge Virginia Phillips had ordered an immediate repeal of DADT in the case Log Cabin Republicans v. United States. The stay suspended that order.