President Obama got heckled last night over his administration's progress toward repealing the military's Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy last night at a fundraiser for Sen. Barbara Boxer in Los Angeles.
"Repeal Don't Ask, Don't Tell!" someone yelled from the audience.
"We are going to do that," Obama said. "Hey, hold on a second, hold on a second. We are going to do that."
A mocking chant of "Yes, we can" began, to Obama's clear disappointment.
"Guys, guys," Obama said. "I agree. I agree. I agree. Now, no no no, no listen. What the young man was talking about was we need to repeal, Don't Ask, Don't Tell, which I agree with, and which we have begun to do."
Here's raw video from the Associated Press:
Repealing Don't Ask, Don't Tell has been a top priority for gay-rights advocates since Obama took office. Activists have expressed frustration with Obama's slow progress on a number of their most significant issues, which he promised to address during the campaign. "We want the Obama we believed in and helped to elect," the leader of one gay-rights advocacy group told me last June, the day Obama invited LGBT activists to the White House for a reception.
Advocates view DADT's existence as an ongoing violation of civil rights--a standing instance of government oppression that politicians have failed to correct. They do not like being told to wait.
Te administration has taken steps toward a DADT repeal lately, as Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen testified
before Congress in February to press for a repeal.
Late last month, Gates relaxed
DADT enforcement rules: hearsay can no longer be used to oust a servicemember on the grounds of sexual orientation, senior-level officers must now approve of sexual-orientation-based discharges, and disclosures to lawyers and clergy can no longer be used to oust someone. Marc noted
at the time that this move was unexpected.
Momentum appears to be swinging in the favor of a DADT repeal, but gay-rights advocates have been frustrated for a long time; they're wary of lip service. Even when a change appears closer than it has been in a long time, it's not enough to keep the president from getting heckled.