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Obama pressured on ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’

- The Washington Times - Friday, December 19, 2008

The nation's largest gay-rights lobbying group is demanding that President-elect Barack Obama eliminate the "don't ask, don't tell" policy covering military service members and immediately tackle a host of other gay issues to repair the damage they say he has done to his image by choosing conservative Christian preacher Rick Warren to deliver the inauguration invocation.

The Human Rights Campaign on Friday asked Mr. Obama to adopt the group's Blueprint for Positive Change, a "concrete plan for LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) equality" that calles for fixing tax laws that shortchange domestic partners to making hate crimes illegal.

"Your invitation to Reverend Rick Warren to deliver the invocation at your inauguration is a genuine blow to LGBT Americans," wrote Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese in a letter sent to Mr. Obama this week. "By inviting Rick Warren to your inauguration, you have tarnished the view that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Americans have a place at your table."

Gay-rights activists are particularly angry at Mr. Warren for his support of California's Proposition 8 ballot initiative that voters passed last month that restricts the state's definition of marriage to a union between a man and a woman, eliminating the right of same-sex couples to marry.

The group's initiative includes calling on Mr. Obama to:

• Issue an executive order within the first 100 days of his administration that reaffirms protections for federal workers based on sexual orientation and expands them to include gender identity;

• Work with Congress to sign hate crimes legislation into law within six months;

• Develop a plan within the first 100 days to eliminate the military's so called "don't ask, don't" tell policy regarding the sexual orientation of its members;

• Support the proposed Employment Non-Discrimination Act that would prohibit discrimination against employees on the basis of sexual orientation.