President Obama fired his first gay military officer today. Navy Lt. Dan Choi was fired under the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy because he is gay. His appearance on national television, as a spokesperson for Knights Out, a group of 38 GLBT military women and men, violates the antiquated and discriminatory “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy. Aaron Belkin of The Huffington Post argues that, if he chose, President Obama could issue an executive order that would effectively end the policy.
As most of us know, the firing is a loss not only because of its discriminatory stance, but because Choi is an Arabic translator, and the military is desperately short in this field.
Overall, President Obama’s report card on gay and lesbian issues has been mixed, and outlets such as the Times have been pressing the President on his cautious agenda on GLBT issues. I’m giving him a C+ because of his hiring of several high profile members of his cabinet (can you tell that I’m in grading mode?). However, he merits only an average rating because of his failure to move on campaign promises to GLBT constituents. So far, he has remained silent on the gay marriage legislative decisions in Iowa and Maine, and now failed to act upon the firing of gay servicemen and women.