Today, Michelle Obama and Jill Biden kicked off their Joining Forces initiative--a program meant to raise awareness of the challenges faced by members of the military and their families. Obama and Biden had a big launch event at the White House, and everyone was invited! Well--almost everyone. Not Servicemembers United, a nonprofit that represents LGBT troops and veterans. They had to stay home, even though they lobbied for two weeks to be able to attend. Sorry, guys.
The office of the First Lady explained its decision to CBS News thusly: "The President has been crystal clear that the Administration is moving forward with the repeal of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' quickly and efficiently ... However, it still remains the law. The White House, including the First Lady and Dr. Biden, look forward to working with the families of gay and lesbian service members after certification occurs and repeal goes into effect."
But! Alexander Nicholson, executive director of Servicemembers United, points out that "'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' does not apply to the civilians who work at their advocacy and service organizations." He also notes that "many straight organizational representatives have been invited to this event, including some with few or no military families in their constituencies."
Who's in the right here? If Nicholson's reading of the law is correct, then it looks like gay military families are indeed being shut out "because of nothing but lingering political homophobia," as he says. Of course, if Tim Pawlenty got his way and reinstated DADT, this would suddenly all become much more clear-cut.
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