Nov. 29, 2015 SIGN IN | REGISTER

Congressional Democrats to Wait on ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’

Obama “has to set his path on Iraq first before he does gays in the military,” Frank said during a national LGBT Caucus meeting at the Democratic National Convention in August.

At the same event, Baldwin said she hoped for “further progress” on the issue, but highlighted other topics as priorities for the caucus, such as hate crimes and workplace discrimination legislation.

The Human Rights Campaign, arguably the most prominent gay and lesbian rights group, has given Obama a timetable for addressing gay-related issues, including Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.

But the group isn’t demanding an immediate repeal. Instead, HRC is circulating a petition that calls on Obama to develop a plan within 100 days to “begin the process” of striking down the policy.

“There is a strategically correct way to go about this,” HRC Communications Director Brad Luna said. “This policy has been in place for a number of years. It’s not going to be repealed overnight.”

Luna said there is consensus in the gay community that there needs to be a “strategy behind how this could be repealed.” This may mean creating a White House appointee in charge of the issue, creating a blue-ribbon panel of experts to study it or holding high-level discussions on the subject at the Pentagon.

Members of Congress “will tell you it’s probably not going to happen right away,” Luna said. “We understand that as a community. We’re willing to spend the time doing the work.”

Asked why the gay community wouldn’t push to overturn the policy immediately next year, Luna said people learned a lesson from the environment in which Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell was created: a rushed process.

“We’re pushing for it to get repealed. But in this environment, the goal is to build a consensus around it,” he said.

Last year, Rep. Ellen Tauscher (D-Calif.) introduced a bill to overturn Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and picked up 149 co-sponsors. Although patience seems to be the consensus among gay activists and many Democrats, Tauscher told CNN in November that she expected Congress to tackle the issue in 2009.

“The key here is to get bills that pass the House and the Senate, that we can get to President-elect Obama to sign, and I think that we can do that, certainly, the first year of the administration,” Tauscher said.

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