The longest serving openly gay member of Congress on Wednesday said President Obama “made a mistake” by appealing a court decision against “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and should consider the reconsider the decision if the Senate can’t pass repeal in the lame duck session.
Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) said in a statement that “two things that were always true” about “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” have become even more apparent since U.S. District Court Judge Virginia Phillips struck down the law and put in place an injunction against enforcing it.
“First, President Obama made a mistake in appealing the decision of Judge Phillips, ruling it unconstitutional,” Frank said. “While presidents do have the obligation to defend even laws they dislike, “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” has already been repudiated as bad policy by the President himself, by a decisive majority of the House and by a Senate majority just short of the votes necessary to break filibuster.”
Frank said the uncertainly about the injunction, which could be overturned by the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, underscores for the Senate to act to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” in lame duck. The lawmaker said the president “must use every available tool he has to press the Senate to do this.”
Additionally, Frank said if the Senate should be unable to pass “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal this year, the president should “reconsider the decision to appeal” and ensure that any member of the U.S. military who acts in accord with the injunction not be subject to discharge under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” in the future.
“While the President does not have the authority unilaterally to repeal a statute, he clearly has the discretion to order that no subsequent retroactive application of the policy be imposed,” Frank said.