The gay rights activists who recently "heckled" President Obama at a fundraiser over "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" have some more fodder for frustration, now that the administration is formally objecting to an injunction that would end discharges of gay servicemembers.
Judge Virginia Phillips had ruled that the the policy was unconstitutional, even though servicemembers' rights are somewhat curtailed within the military. She issued an injunction but stayed it. Some gay rights activists had hoped the Department of Justice would refuse to appeal and let the injunction go into effect, but not so much. Here's the crux of the DOJ position:
"A court should not compel the Executive to implement an immediate cessation of the seventeen-year-old policy without regard for any effect such an abrupt change might have on the military's operations, particularly at a time when the military is engaged in combat operations and other demanding military activities around the globe."
The White House knows it's about to piss off part of its ostensible base, so Press Secretary Robert Gibbs played defense with an email last night:
"This filing in no way diminishes the President's firm commitment to achieve a legislative repeal of DADT –- indeed, it clearly shows why Congress must act to end this misguided policy," Gibbs wrote. He said Obama "was disappointed" with the Senate filibuster this week that blocked action on a bill containing a conditional repeal of DADT. However, Gibbs said the Justice Department was acting "as it traditionally does when acts of Congress are challenged."
(Rather inconveniently, on Tuesday, Obama's nominee to head the Marine Corps said he supports "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," because he says lifting it would be bad for morale.)
Politico's analysis is that there's still a way for the Obama administration to maintain its commitment to a legislative repeal (a strategy that failed to work this week but could still happen in December) and not piss off gays and lesbians:
The best thing politically for Obama at this point might be for Phillips to enter a broad injunction against DADT. If the injunction remains in place pending an appeal, the urgency of repealing the law would dissipate and so too might the anger of some in the gay community who believe Obama has done too little to see through his campaign promise to do away with the "don't ask" policy.
That would certainly be convenient for them.