US President Barack Obama pledged to end the ban on homosexuals serving openly in the military in a speech Saturday, but acknowledged to a cheering crowd that the policy changes he promised on the campaign trail are not coming as quickly as they expected.
"I will end 'don't ask-don't tell,'" Obama said to a standing ovation from the crowd of about 3,000 at the annual dinner of the Human Rights Campaign, a gay civil rights advocacy group. Obama reaffirmed his commitment to end the ban, but did not give a timetable or the specifics that some activists have called for.
The law was passed by Congress in 1993 and signed by President Bill Clinton, who also promised to repeal the ban on homosexuals in the military but was blunted by opposition in the military and Congress. Obama said he's working with Pentagon and congressional leaders on ending the policy.
"We should not be punishing patriotic Americans who have stepped forward to serve the country," Obama said. "We should be celebrating their willingness to step forward and show such courage ... especially when we are fighting two wars.