The White House insisted Thursday that officials are working to overturn a policy that bans homosexuals from serving openly in the military, reacting to Pentagon assessments that such efforts were a low priority and to Democratic activists' complaints of slow progress.
White House spokesman Robert Gibbs told reporters that President Barack Obama is committed to reversing the Clinton-era policy of "don't ask, don't tell," which blocks gays' service if they should disclose their sexual orientation. Congress would have to take action to change the policy. Recent polls indicate the ban and the "don't ask, don't tell" policy are losing support.
"Try as one may, a president can't simply whisk away standing law of the United States of America," Gibbs said. "But if you're going to change the policy, if it is the law of the land, you have to do it through an act of Congress."
The administration has drawn criticism from gay and lesbian activists for not moving quickly enough to repeal the policy. Democratic activists and fundraisers met last weekend in Texas to coordinate an online campaign known as the Dallas Principles to prod the president.