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BLOG: Should Obama do away with "don't ask, don't tell" policy?

by Maggie O'Mara

Bio | Email | Follow: @maggiektvb7


Posted on October 13, 2009 at 6:15 AM

Updated Thursday, Oct 22 at 11:10 AM

"Don't ask, don't tell?"

This weekend, President Barack Obama said he will do away with the "don't ask, don't tell" policy in the military. He says he's working with the Pentagon and congressional leaders to end the policy that bans gays and lesbians from openly serving in the military - but he didn't give a timetable on how soon that will happen.


"We should not be punishing patriotic Americans who have stepped forward to serve the country. We should be celebrating their willingness to step forward and show such courage, especially when we are fighting two wars. My expectation is that when you look back on these years, you will look back and see a time when we put a stop against discrimination - whether in the office or on the battlefield."

One of many Idahoans watching this issue very closely is Air Force Lt. Colonel Victor Fehrenbach. He's based here in Mountain Home, Idaho - and is a decorated veteran of 18 years. His career depends on Obama repealing "don't ask, don't tell."

Victor Fehrenbach.jpg

"I could go in to work tomorrow and find out that I've been officially fired, and I won't be able to put the uniform on again."

A civilian outed Fehrenbach to his supervisors this spring, and by now he says he already would have been discharged for being gay. But his case has been stalled - possibly because Defense Decretary Robert Gates is interested in reviewing cases like his. Gates questioned the motivations behind Fehrenbach's outing - and asked if the military should take that into account before taking action.

Fehrenbach has made national headlines over this, making appearances on MSNBC etc. He says President Obama spoke to him personally, and told him he would put an end to "don't ask, don't tell". When this issue finally is discussed in Congress, Fehrenbach says he hopes he'll be asked to testify on behalf of military men and women who are directly impacted by the policy.

So, what do you think?

Should President Obama repeal "don't ask, don't tell?"