White House: 'Don't ask' will end soon

The White House said Wednesday that recent court decisions have demonstrated to Congress that the “Don't ask, don’t tell” law will soon end — it’s just a matter of how. 

White House press secretary Robert Gibbs acknowledged the Justice Department is preparing to appeal a court’s decision against the law preventing gays from serving openly in the military, but said President Obama is still committed to ending the policy. 

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“This is a policy that is going to end,” Gibbs said. “It's not whether it's going to end. It's about the process.” 

Gibbs said the pressure is on the Senate to change the law, but the president is still working with the Pentagon, which should conclude its review on ending the policy in December, to change the law if Congress won’t. 

“The best way to end it is for the Senate to follow the lead of the House of Representatives,” Gibbs said. “But absent that, the president has set up a process to end this policy.” 

The “bottom line,” Gibbs said, is that a number of court decisions finding the policy unconstitutional have “sent a message to Congress that time is running out on the policy.” 

“I think the courts have demonstrated that the time is ticking on the end of ‘Don't ask, don’t tell,’ ” Gibbs said. 

Groups opposed to “Don’t ask, don’t tell” along with 22 Democratic senators have called on Justice to refrain from appealing the decision, but the department is generally obligated to defend laws approved by Congress. Justice could also ask for an injunction against yesterday’s decision, which prevents the military from enforcing “Don’t ask, don’t tell.” Some groups opposed to the policy have advised gay men and women in the military to not disclose their sexual orientation because of the possibility that the decision could be reversed. 

Gay and lesbian groups have said their patience is wearing thin, and they have repeatedly looked to the president to end the policy with an executive decision as commander in chief. 

But the president and his aides have repeatedly stressed the need to include the Pentagon in the process of ending the policy in order to ensure that a change is “orderly.”