My recent letter to the President

Tuesday, May 19, 2009
Mr. President,

I write to you in frustration at your hesitation to take action against the Department of Defense “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” (DADT) policy. As I write this letter, many like me are demonstrating their support online for 1LT Daniel Choi who is the most recent and perhaps most notorious service member being separated from the service because of the statements he made regarding his sexuality.

Daniel Choi is a friend of mine, but not the first to be separated under the DADT policy. SGT Bleu Copas, who I attended language school with, was also separated under DADT. Both of these men are dedicated soldiers, capable linguists and outstanding Americans. Their expulsion from the U.S. Army is regrettable and shameful.

You have stated yourself that “equality is a moral imperative,” and have declared the repeal of DADT to be a measure of equality for gay Americans. Recently, your White House agenda page referring to this issue has diluted its language to remind us that the task of repeal must be done in a sensible way. I ask how it is possible to wait for a sensible way to resolve an issue that is a “moral imperative.”

While I understand a little about the nature of the barriers you face in successfully gaining repeal of DADT, I am frustrated that your apparent support for this “moral imperative” has been little more than a note of solidarity to 2LT Sandy Tsao and similar utterances I have noticed in the news. I wonder how you honestly intend to use the “bully pulpit” you pledged to use to call for repeal of DADT. I have noticed no bullying behavior and have seen you behind no pulpits calling explicitly for repeal.

My wife and I both voted for you last year, and we do not regret that decision. I am not a single-issue voter although your actions in addressing this issue will be a part of my future decision making. I feel that your inaction on this issue, and failure to address it in a public way, as you pledged, degrades your credibility and your promise to me. Perhaps my greatest frustration is that you cannot or will not act on a seemingly easy issue from the vantage of a very high moral ground; and why not?

I beg you to take some action towards fulfillment of this very powerful pledge of yours for equality. To send some signal that you are interested in affecting a real change and not just sympathetic to the poor policy’s victims, rejecting the position that you lack any real control over the policy mechanism. If you were extremely bold, you might find a way to block or hinder the discharge of Daniel Choi, despite the DADT policy. Please don’t just send an apology note.

In closing, I would like to repeat some words that I am sure you are already familiar with. While you hesitate in making a difference with regards to DADT, and you let the system remain undisturbed, let the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. remind you that “we will have repent in this generation not merely for the vitriolic words and actions of the bad people, but for the appalling silence of the good people.” I pray that you or I will not have to repent for your continued inaction against “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”.

With absolute greatest respect,