JANUARY 9, 2009
Ok, maybe this makes up for Rick Warren. A couple of months ago, Obama seemed to be walking back from his promise to undo the destructive “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy on gays in the military. But today, in a video posted on the change.gov website (a site, full disclosure, designed by my husband, who works for the Obama transition), Robert Gibbs sounded pretty unambiguous. The five-minute segment featured Gibbs answering questions that had been posted on the site and voted up by users. At the very end, he addressed this one: “Is the new administration going to get rid of the ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy?” He responded, “You don’t hear a politician give a one-word answer much, but it’s yes.” Granted, he didn’t say when it was going to happen, but it’s definitely an encouraging sign, and one with far more concrete repercussions than the participation of Warren in the inauguration. That doesn’t mean choosing Warren was a good idea – Obama still elevated the already too-high standing of a fundamentalist ideologue. But if this pattern holds – symbolic sops to the right, followed by real-world gains for gays and lesbians – it will be a huge improvement over Bill Clinton, who did almost exactly the opposite.