The president says he'll work with Congress and the military to "finally repeal the law that denies gay Americans the right to serve the country they love because of who they are." The law he is talking about is, of course, the Clinton-era ban on gays serving openly in the military. It's known as "Don't Ask, Don't Tell."
Repealing the ban was an Obama campaign promise, and he's reiterated his commitment to it since taking office.
But the president has a lot on his plate already. Can he really afford to take on a new political fight?
Moreover, there's still resistance inside the Pentagon to lifting the ban. "Now is not the time" is a widespread sentiment, given the ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. At the end of the day, though, the military will salute and follow orders from its commander-in-chief.
Congress may prove a tougher fight. It's a difficult vote for many lawmakers, and this year every seat in House and a third of the Senate's seats are up for grabs. House Armed Services Chairman Ike Skelton has not held a hearing on the matter during the Obama presidency, despite promising to do so. And a hearing by the Senate Armed Services Committee that was originally scheduled for Jan. 28 has been postponed until next month, at the request of the White House. Still, the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network — the leading advocacy group for repeal — hailed the president for calling for an end to the ban.