Barack Obama said he's confident he could end the "don't ask, don't tell" policy for gays in the military, but he won't make it a criteria for serving on the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
"I would never make this a litmus test for the Joint Chiefs of Staff," Obama said during an interview with The Advocate, a gay publication.
"What I want are members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff who are making decisions based on what strengthens our military and what is going to make us safer, not ideology," he said.
Obama said ending the policy, which was instituted during Bill Clinton's administration, is something he could "reasonably" get done if elected [in 2008].
At an MTV forum Thursday, Obama was pressed by a member of the audience, and explained "This is not a situation in which, with the stroke of a pen, I can end the policy."
The Associated Press's Lisa Leff reports, "President Barack Obama said last week that the Clinton-era law 'will end on my watch' but added that 'It has to be done in a way that is orderly, because we are involved in a war right now.' He said he supports repeal of the policy, but only after careful review and an act of Congress.
“As one Special Operations warfighter said during the Pentagon review [...] ‘We have a gay guy in the unit. He's big, he's mean, he kills lots of bad guys. No one cared that he was gay.’ And I think that sums up perfectly the situation," Obama said in remarks preceding the signing.
During the signing ceremony the president also encouraged those discharged under the ban to rejoin the military.
"I say to all Americans, gay or straight, who want nothing more than to defend this country in uniform, your country needs you, your country wants you, and we will be honored to welcome you into the ranks of the finest military the world has ever known," Obama said.
The repeal of DADT — which stirred anger among conservatives and liberals alike, touching off a nearly two-decades-long debate — was approved by Congress last year, signed by President Barack Obama, who had made it a campaign pledge in 2008, and given final authorization by military leaders this summer.
If the compromise is approved, the 1993 policy could be removed from the nation's law books within weeks. That would satisfy one of the most significant promises Obama made to the gay community during his campaign.
Once in office, however, Obama moved slowly, often causing frustration among his gay supporters.
I was proud to sign the Repeal Act into law last December because I knew that it would enhance our national security, increase our military readiness, and bring us closer to the principles of equality and fairness that define us as Americans. Today’s achievement is a tribute to all the patriots who fought and marched for change; to Members of Congress, from both parties, who voted for repeal; to our civilian and military leaders who ensured a smooth transition; and to the professionalism of our men and women in uniform who showed that they were ready to move forward together, as one team, to meet the missions we ask of them.
As Commander in Chief, I have always been confident that our dedicated men and women in uniform would transition to a new policy in an orderly manner that preserves unit cohesion, recruitment, retention and military effectiveness. Today’s action follows extensive training of our military personnel and certification by Secretary Panetta and Admiral Mullen that our military is ready for repeal. As of September 20th, service members will no longer be forced to hide who they are in order to serve our country. Our military will no longer be deprived of the talents and skills of patriotic Americans just because they happen to be gay or lesbian.
President Obama repealed “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” ensuring that no one ever again has to lie about who they are to serve the country they love.