May 4, 2010 at 1:26 pm EDT | by Peter Rosenstein
Mr. President, the time to act is now

The time has come for President Obama to get his message right and stay on message. There have been too many statements at cross purposes with the president’s supposed commitment to ending “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” this year.

If the president is serious about this and the commitment it is more than just dinner and cocktail reception conversation, then he should at the very least ask Congress to immediately stop the dismissals of gays and lesbians in the military while the Pentagon review is ongoing.

I personally want him to take the next step and lobby Congress to pass legislation now stopping the dismissals while the Pentagon review is ongoing and pass a bill that says that “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” will be repealed as of Jan. 1. This gives the Pentagon more than enough time to figure out how to implement the repeal which is the general understanding of what their review is all about.

President Obama is the commander in chief. Despite this I understand that he can’t change this law on his own but he can surely tell Congress what he wants and tell them as forcefully as he has told them what he wanted in the stimulus package and in healthcare reform legislation. This is an issue of civil and human rights. I helped elect a president who I believed more than any other president we have ever elected would understand the need to fight for the civil and human rights of all people. After all it was a commitment he made in his campaign and has reiterated publicly a number of times since he became president.

But as with all legislation, the true test is in how you fight for what you want. The president showed true grit in fighting for healthcare and decent people everywhere, both gay and straight, should demand he show the same resolve with regard to repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” To date we haven’t seen that resolve.

I think the GLBT community must work the halls of Congress and lobby each and every representative and senator on this issue. We have that responsibility as a community. But the president has a responsibility to not leave us out there on our own. He can’t come to us and ask us to continue to fund the Democratic Party and to fight to see that the Democrats retain their hold on the Congress in the mid-term elections without actively joining us in the fight to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” with more than words.

Mr. President, the time is now for you to get into the act and get on the phones and invite wavering senators to the White House and tell them what you want. If you expect us to trust what you say then we must assume you will work actively with us to end “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” this year! Mr. President, we believed in you, and we still do, don’t let us down now!

Peter Rosenstein

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