President Truman's ordered the integration of the armed forces by issuing Executive Order 9981 in 1948. Congressional approval was not required in 1948. President Eisenhower issued Executive Order 10730 in 1957, placing the Arkansas National Guard under Federal control as part of the support for desegregation. Congressional approval was not required in 1957.
In 1992, candidate Bill Clinton declared that he would put an end to discrimination based on sexual orientation in the military. In 1993, President Clinton backed down from his campaign promise by issuing the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy. This policy stated that military applicants were not to be asked about their sexual orientation, but it also reinforced the principle that homosexuals may be discharged.
In 2008, candidate Obama stated that he would repeal "Don't Ask Don't Tell" and put an end to discrimination based on sexual orientation in the military. Earlier this month a Federal district judge ruled that "Don't Ask Don't Tell" is unconstitutional. Yesterday the Senate struck down legislation that would have repealed "Don't Ask Don't Tell".
So, here are some basic questions: Does the president still have the authority to issue executive orders? Yes, the Constitution hasn't been amended on this issue, so if executive orders were constitutional in the past, then they are still constitutional. Does the president have the authority to issue executive orders that overrule "Don't Ask Don't Tell"? Yes he can, according to military law experts. Did the president pass this hot-button topic over to Congress rather than issue an executive order so that he could create the illusion that he tried to fulfill his campaign promise, but not risk alienating voters on this wedge issue? Yes, he can now blame Congress while wiping his hands of this campaign promise.
What do I believe?
I believe that political leaders should be sincere, straightforward, especially if they aspire to be re-elected. New Jersey Governor Christie shows here what it means to give an honest answer even if it means you aren't going to be loved by everyone. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PkuTm-ON904&feature=player_embedded We need less eloquent rhetoric and more meaningful action.
I believe that anyone who has the conviction and courage to volunteer their life to protect our liberties deserves the utmost respect. With over 2 million active and reserves in the military, it is safe to say that there are already thousands of gays, bisexuals and lesbians who have volunteered to defend America. Military personnel are entitled to the same constitutional rights as the civilians they are protecting.
I believe that it is too easy to get distracted by wedge issues like flag-burning, weekend furloughs, the pledge of allegiance and military policy concerning sexual orientation while ignoring the most pertinent issues affecting large swathes of American society like our ongoing military conflicts, our trade policies, our health care policies, our education policies and our struggling economy.
Lastly, I believe that President Obama was swept into office with his appeals for hope and change. His fresh face inspired the highest voter turnout rate in a presidential election since 1968. As with all elected officials, President Obama is facing a reality that is far more challenging than candidate Obama imagined. I believe that President Obama will have a much harder time turning out the vote in 2012 than candidate Obama did in 2008. For many voters, he has morphed from visionary candidate that inspired millions into a stereotypical, smooth-talking politician whose primary focus is fund-raising and re-election.
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