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January 29th, 2010
10:29 AM ET

President right to seek end of 'don't ask, don't tell' in 2010

Alexander Nicholson
Special to CNN

In last night's State of the Union address, President Obama was unusually brief and abundantly clear about one thing: The repeal of the "don't ask, don't tell" law, which effectively bars openly gay men and women from military service, is a priority for his administration in 2010.

Some have criticized the speech for not providing a roadmap for how he would lead the repeal effort, and others were unhappy that he did not announce an immediate halt to all gay discharges, but the president did exactly what he should have done last night in this venue.

The annual State of the Union address is typically devoted to the most pressing issues of the day. Presidents use the platform to address issues and institutions - from wars to jobs to health care to Wall Street - that affect nearly every American household, and often many other nations around the world. So it was no surprise that President Obama did not take this opportunity to detail his "don't ask, don't tell" game plan. But those of us who oppose this insidious policy did get something delivered last night, and that something should not taken lightly.

The president said it all in the first four words of his one-liner on "don't ask, don't tell." The words "This year" and "I will" laid out a firm time frame for tackling a repeal plan and signaled that the White House would not just sit idly by and wait for Congress to act. Additionally, the reference to working with the military implies an understanding of the crucial fact that senior military leadership must be on board with a realistic repeal plan for it to even have a chance of getting through this tough Congress, much less succeed at the implementation stage.

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