One of the hot topics during "A Conversation With President Obama" on Thursday was the political battle over the "don't ask, don't tell" policy. Forum attendee Bridget Todd pressed the president about his approach to ending the controversial measure — a campaign promise Todd said helped Obama land her vote.
Days before the forum, Judge Virginia Phillips issued an injunction immediately blocking the enforcement of the policy. However, the same day Obama reassured Todd of his commitment to taking down "don't ask," his administration asked for a stay on Phillips' ruling. After speaking directly to the nation's leader and then learning of the latest development in the battle over the policy, Todd said her view of her conversation with the president has been altered.
"It adds a tinge of — I don't want to say cynicism, but it adds a tinge of something I can't quite describe to the interaction that I had with Obama," Todd told MTV News on Friday (October 15). "He was so adamant, like, 'This will end under my watch, I guarantee it.' [But] simultaneously his justice department is preparing to appeal this decision by a federal judge to strike down 'don't ask, don't tell.' "
Todd posed the question about "don't ask" because the issue hits close to home for the Richmond, Virginia, native, which is a city with many military families. Todd knows many gay service members and said she has been moved by how the policy affects soldiers both off and on the battle field.
"My one friend, he can't have pictures of him and his lover on the Internet or on Facebook. [It's] just little things like that you just take for granted about being in a relationship with someone. The moment when we were standing waiting for him to come back [from a tour overseas], all of the other couples were running and kissing and having all these really affectionate greetings, and they just had to shake hands," Todd recalled. "It just broke my heart."
The disconnection between Obama's rhetoric and the actions of his administration is now a concern for Todd, who wonders if the president is simply trying to please as many voters as possible before citizens head to the polls next month.
"It worries me, and I think it's indicative of the fact that ... he's thinking more about 'how this will make me look in the midterm elections' as opposed to 'What do gay men and women need now?' " she said.
Todd asserted that appealing Tuesday's ruling is a confusing move for a leader who has initially pledged to end the policy.
"The Log Cabin Republicans, who pushed to have that judge to appeal 'don't ask, don't tell,' I thought they were giving him a gift, and he's looking a gift horse in the mouth," she said. "He's a lawyer. He's been to law school. He knows he doesn't have any legal obligation to appeal this. He could just easily be like, 'That was her decision, there it is, I'm not appealing it.' It all seems very counterintuitive. It's very awkward to say, 'I want this policy to go away,' but when someone makes it go away you're like, 'Oh, no, not that way.' "
What do you think about the "don't ask, don't tell" back-and-forth"? Let us know in the comments.