No liberal interest group bucked harder against the Obama White House than gay and lesbian advocates, who were outraged last summer when the Justice Department wrote a brief defending the Defense of Marriage Act in court a brief that featured an indirect comparison of same-sex marriage and incestuous unions. The reaction by the White House was swift, with Obama meeting gay leaders in the Oval Office and announcing policy changes that would grant more rights to government employees in same-sex relationships. In October, Obama signed a new hate-crimes bill that included harsher punishment for crimes motivated by a victim's sexual orientation.
The military's policy banning openly gay and lesbian enlistees remains Obama's biggest challenge in this area. Before the election, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs pledged to remove the "Don't ask, don't tell" policy. But that change is easier said than done, since the policy must be amended by Congress, not by Executive fiat. Military leaders have urged the White House to move slowly on the change, and a delicate dance is now taking place, with House Democrats and the White House working to include the change in this year's Defense Authorization Bill.
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