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October 11th, 2009
04:34 AM ET

Ahead in the CNN Newsroom...

President Barack Obama delivers a rousing speech to the nation's largest gay rights group.

A militant standoff is defused in Pakistan. Saturday's assault was the third major attack in Pakistan a week.

The Vatican - recognizing a number of new saints today. Among them, the famed Father Damien of Kalaupapa, Hawaii.

And our Reynolds Wolf sits down with a shark attack survivor whose life's work has been to teach people about the species.

Join Betty Nguyen and Drew Griffin in for TJ Holmes in the CNN Newsroom, beginning 6am ET/ 3am PT.

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soundoff (36 Responses)
  1. Scott Stodden

    Hey Betty & Drew How you dooooin? Im hear to say as a gay American that the speech that President Obama gave was amazing and an excellent job but the question is when will he end don't ask dont tell? I believe that the don't ask don't tell policy was one of the best decisions former President Clinton could have made because it keeps down controversary in the military and that's just my opinion from being a gay American so I don't feel it would be a good decision for President Obama to end don't ask don't tell in the military. Also with the issue going on in Pakistan and along the Afghan and Pakistan border I feel and President Obama should feel that there is no time to wait and decide either send more troops to Afghanistan or get out because even General McChrystal stated that without more troops we can not win this war. Concerning the Pope in the Vatican I have always loved Pope Benedict XVI he is the truest holy father since Pope John Paul II and Reynolds you know us CNN fans love you to every weekend, TJ we miss you like crazy but enjoy your time off.

    Scott Stodden (Freeport,Illinois)

    October 11, 2009 at 6:21 am |
  2. Fran Ramsey

    In the early 1980's I was given a general discharge from the US Navy for being gay....I left the one job/career/life I loved the most. Humiliated/ashamed ... now having to hide my DD214 which read in bold caps longer would I be able to use my teaching degree nor could I work for the government. I was branded externally as well as mentally. I requested a review later in the 90's to the Department of the Navy. A year or more passed and I assumed it had been a waste of time....after a letter, stating my case was being reviewed and they would get back to me...time passed and I recieved a new discharge certificate...HONORABLE...and with back pay...which I have been told does not happen,,,was it a payoff to keep many others hid their unframed discharge certificate...ashamed and disgraced as I had....the dates of my serviced have been changed with a new DD214 and a framed HONORABLEcertificate...but I am still living a lie ....when I apply for jobs I put my discharge date as 1985...knowing it was 1983....I feel sick that I allowed the government to hide one more discharge this way ...afterthe Navy spent thousands on my electronics training and then pay me off to keep it is time to stop this treatment of our gay men and women who want to serve in our countries great military...such a waste...the time is long over due ...the time is now...

    October 11, 2009 at 6:27 am |
  3. Kelly Chang

    What a bunch of cr*p. This president has no intention to keep his campaign promises. The only thing he is intend on doing is staying in the spotlight as much as possible, no matter what lies he has to tell. Promising things to get votes only works 1 time, he should keep that in mind. He's going to loose his reelection for himself, but that's only hopefull, more importantly he will screw up hte midterm elections for the democrats, the Republicans don't even have to fight, he's doing the fighting for them. What an incompetent president he is. Let's just create a new cabinet position for him, head of the media cabinet of the Obamas and keep him there. Let's see how many more jobs he's going add to the unemployment rate for October. With all the money he has handed out to his backers, unemployment shouldn't be rising at all, but it doesn't even stay at the same rate instead increases month after month. How about instead of increasing unemployment benefit eligibility use those funds to fund hiring in good companies with grands for every employee hired under that program, with the understanding that the company has to keep those employees for at least 3 years (unless proven problems) or they have to pay back the grand.

    October 11, 2009 at 6:40 am |
  4. John

    If sexuality should have nothing to do with considerations with in military service, then why doesn't the military have men and women living and showering in the same facilities? Could it be in fear of them being attracted in some way to one another? Then how does a gay person differ? Are we assuming that gay military members will never be attracted to their fellow military members, whether the other person is gay or not? They are claiming discrimination when what they really are calling for is a double standard.

    October 11, 2009 at 6:41 am |
  5. Kelly Chang

    This man shouldn't be president, speech writer at best! He must not have heard of the saying, talk is cheap......

    October 11, 2009 at 6:42 am |
  6. Paul


    I am currently serving in Iraq, and after watching this speech to the largest activist group, it bothers me. It bothers me because who is considering those of us, here, not gay and do not want this brought out in the open? Not the activist group!

    I have been deployed several times, and I can't imagine having the distraction of positively knowing my bunkmate or someone I share a shower with is gay. That distracts from the mission, causing unfocus.

    On the flip side, how do they plan on housing openly gay military members? If I am a man attracted to a woman, I cannot share a shower trailer with her , but a man attracted to a man can?

    In the end I have served for 13 years and this policy has done well during this time, without having to "know" who was openly gay. I think it should stay as is!!

    October 11, 2009 at 6:42 am |
  7. Mattie Jones

    President Obama promise to the Gay community is more than they have received in the past 8 years. I think it is hope because they do have an advocate who believe that they should be afforded the same rights as everyone else. It is no doubt, that if the President said, it he plans to fullfill his promsie. He is a man of his word. Would you please point out what has to happen before he can fullfill the promise. Is this a law or change that he (the President) can immediately change himself, without any intervention and Procrasinating from the House and Senate?

    October 11, 2009 at 6:47 am |
  8. Carole

    Keeping you Honest..................There are bills in the House and Senate to repeal Don't Ask/Don't Tell.....He will sign it when it gets to his desk. He didn't give a timeline because Congress moves slowly--Just look at Healthcare, it might pass by Christmas they say and they have been working on the bills in Congress since Nov 2008 after he was elected.

    A bill to repeal DADT is permanent. If he did it by Executive Order, it could easily be overturned again by the next President.

    October 11, 2009 at 6:50 am |
  9. cutiepie

    Will you show the footage of the President stating that he would end the Dont ask Dont tell policy and fulfill all of his campaign promises during the first year of his presidency?

    October 11, 2009 at 6:53 am |
  10. Daniel Lilly

    As one of the 655 US Marines discharged under DADT in the last 15 years, it's appalling that we're still saddled with this ridiculous policy. American families are less safe than they could be, morale is lower than it should be, and everyone dithers while my fellow Marines die in foreign lands where they speak the languages I (and hundreds of others) am fluent in. Semper Fi

    October 11, 2009 at 6:55 am |
  11. Keith

    How about if the Mr. Obama just drops all other world and national issues and just concentrates on gay rights? Guess they are the most important people in the world?
    No I did not vote for him, but can we allow him to do his job? What is most important to our nation? Gay rights or health care? National security or gay rights? The economy or gay rights? Not gay bashing but are there not more important things he has to address than gay rights?
    How much can you get done in 10 months? We need to look at what is best for our nation and not just one group of people.
    How about we all get togather and all pull in the same direction and get our nation back on track. Then deal with the smaller issues?
    Just a citizen

    October 11, 2009 at 7:03 am |
  12. Carroll

    You news people keep blaming President Obama for not passing or signing something on gay rights, when you know that congress makes the laws and The President signs the law. If the President says he or she is goings to do it on their own, then the next President (Republicans) maybe will overturn it like a football. Smart people know this! Get it right!

    October 11, 2009 at 7:03 am |
  13. Jane White


    Congress IS doing something about the repeal of Don't Ask/Don't tell.
    Congressman Patrick Murphy (PA, Dist. 8) has sponsored the Military Readiness Enhancement Act, which includes the repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell. He has nearly 180 CO-SPONSORS in the House already, and he is hoping to get the 218 votes needed to pass the bill.

    C-Span covered Murphy's entire hour-long presentation last week. The media needs to keep up!

    October 11, 2009 at 7:04 am |
  14. l walker

    regarding the dont ask dont tell...i have several gay relatives so i think it is no ones business but you need to ask the military guys who are in close quarters what they think...most will say no way....

    October 11, 2009 at 7:06 am |
  15. Dot from Mass

    Please correct the statement that the President has been in office 11 months. He was elected in November but was sworn into office in January – 2 months later. It bothers me when numbers are used to emphasize a point being made, but not checked as to accuracy.
    Thank you.

    October 11, 2009 at 7:07 am |
  16. Sean Turpin

    Hi Betty,
    I think that the LGBT community is so hungry for anyone in government to support the establishment of our equal rights, that our patience for Obama may very last for another year or two. We're all just hoping that his speech last night is not vapid political rhetoric and will turn into some real policy change that will elevate the LGBT community out of its current "second class" status.

    October 11, 2009 at 7:12 am |
  17. Tyson Forrester

    In 1960, they ask and I didn't tell. My friends who did at the time of their physical had OVERT HOMOSEXUAL stamped in red across the front of their chart. I served and lived a lie for 6 years, was honorably discharge and got on with the rest of my life.

    October 11, 2009 at 7:14 am |
  18. kayshyna

    I feel that if all of obama’s time wasn’t being consumed with this health care bill that gay rights and or the don’t ask don’t tell bill would be one of his main concerns. However health care in this nation is far more important and should be getting the time and attention the president is putting into it. This bill wasn’t implemented yesterday and isn’t going to go away overnight. It takes time, be patient just as many others in this country had to be women’s rights and the abolition of slavery didn’t happen overnight either.
    kayshyna of new orleans

    October 11, 2009 at 7:15 am |
  19. Don

    After eight years of having concervitives block every progressive action in congress, it is unrealistic for progressives to think Obama can make good on all the committments he has given in the 10 month time he has been in office. It's right to keep the pressure on but for me it sure is good to know the conservitives aren't controlling this nation any more. Just think, under Bush and Republican control a law was passed forbidding the right for the US to bargain with drug companies for lower cost drugs for our senior citizens. Unbelievable!

    October 11, 2009 at 7:21 am |
  20. Jeannetta McFarlin

    The gay community should keep in mind, how long it took the black community to fight for their rights and how long it took for their issues to become law. President Obama has only been in office 10 months, at least give him 1 full year. I think it is unfair to accuse him of doing nothing.

    October 11, 2009 at 7:22 am |
  21. Janis

    I support the gay community in the changes they are seeking, including the repeal of the defense of marriage act. I believe in equal rights for all Americans, but critical issues must be prioritized. What is a number one issue for one group is not always number one for others or the most pressing need of our country. The President is dealing with the economy, two wars, getting health care reform passed, nuclear threats, and a host of other pressing needs. I think everyone should quit demanding the President tackle their issue before any others and trust him to keep his word. Saying the President has not kept his promise is just emboldening his critics.

    October 11, 2009 at 7:29 am |
  22. Dr. Bill Alvarez

    Good morning Betty, regarding President Obama and his speech last night - first let me say, I am a gay man and I fully understand everything that our President has had to face during his months of service and I appreciate ALL that he has done to this point and understand much more will be done. I, do wish as a gay man, more would have been accomplish regarding gay rights BUT I fully understand the scope and the timing of all things that are on his plate. President Obama inherited a mess - first that mess must be attended to and then attention will be given, in appropriate time, to the concerns of the gay population of our country.

    October 11, 2009 at 7:30 am |
  23. Kevin

    Hopefully, I am posting this in the right area. I am commenting on the "Don't Ask Don't Tell" story.

    I am a Submarine Sailor who agrees with the "Don't Ask Don't Tell" policies in place. I have spent 4 years on board Submarines and 10 months in between Kuwait and Iraq, so I feel I have a basic understanding of living conditions and working conditions of the Navy.

    My opinion is based on the idea that I do not "Hate" or "Dislike" homosexuals. In civilian jobs prior to the military I have worked and spent time with many homosexuals....To include my best friend is a homosexual. I respect people and their ability to choose their own sexual orientation. I also know that homosexuals (males) are not "always checking out my butt" or "wanting to see me naked."

    My issue has to do with the living environment. I am not a womanizer, person who is ever in trouble for or who ever makes inappropriate comments about women, nor do I touch women in inappropriate manors. I would not want to or feel comfortable living in the same quarters as a woman because I do not want to put myself in a compromising position where my honor and respect could ever come into question.

    My fear pertains to the living quarters between heterosexuals and homosexuals. Living with a homosexual puts me into an awkward position where someone has power over me. If ever we were to come into conflict about work or personal matters, the person would easily be able to make accusations, about me or my actions towards them and their homosexuality, that could cause me professional problems and effect my Naval career. Many will discount this, but I have seen women try this in the work place (because they were upset over a personal conflict, not because there was true sexual harassment). I have also seen men (heterosexuals) use false accusations to try and hurt the other's Naval career due to an argument they were having. No one could convince me that homosexuals would not try this exact same act. This is not to say that I expect it to happen because all homosexuals are like this, but would be a concern for me if I had to live with a homosexual. Especially, since I am a Christian and do not support the lifestyle.

    Some call this "Homophobia", but I would not feel comfortable changing in front of a homosexual, which is no different from my discomfort of changing in front of females. Same goes true with homosexuals and females changing in front of me. I have been fortunate to have lived with groups of men or with married men, but the future is uncertain.

    I would also fear my free speech. I do not agree with the Homosexual lifestyle. My readings of the bible and personal faith in God, tells me that the homosexual lifestyle is a sin (understand that I do not "Hate" homosexuals nor do I believe that all homosexuals are "Going to Hell"....I believe their sin is no different from telling a lie or disobeying God. I just believe their sin is a sin of choice....Which the word "choice" is up for debate at a different time). Would my "Free Speech" rights be taken away....To speak to my wife about current events (such as the recent defining of what a marriage is or state votes of whether or not to allow homosexual marriage).....To voice my person opinion that homosexuality is a sinful lifestyle? Government "Hate Crime" bills lead me to believe that I would loose my rights under the Constitution, fought for under the Declaration of Independence, to voice my opinion.

    Some would ask "do I feel that Homosexuals are being kept from their own Constitutional rights?" I would have to say, yes. Do I think it's fair that they are not able to serve due to their sexual orientation? No. But, saying all of that.....I fear that the government has not and will not properly plan how homosexual males and females will cohibitate with heterosexual males and females. Just because I am not the minority doesn't mean that I should have to give up my rights, personal protections, and personal comforts so that a minority can have "their way and desires." There is a way to do this and a compromise that can be reached....My fear is they will treat this as they have treated similar issues in the past. It will be based off of their thoughts and desires without talking to and gaining the prospective of those serving, so that the policy fits their political agenda and not the needs of ALL, homosexual and heterosexual, members involved.

    Thank you for your time!


    October 11, 2009 at 8:02 am |
  24. Richard W. Lewis, Sr.

    I served in both the 82D Airborne Division & the 101st AIrborne Division. As a Gay American I protected the rights of my fellow Americans to discriminate against me.

    I salute our Commander in Chief.

    October 11, 2009 at 8:08 am |
  25. Steve

    Let's make a deal. The generals can have more troops when they sign on for immediately ending the "Don't ask, don't tell" policy. In the interim, they are discharging gays who are out or being outted, while requesting more. Let's end the charade of wanting and/or needing additional troops while kicking others out. Obama is putting off the inevitable. Ending this policy of inequality should be priority #1 as soon as health insurance reform is passed. Rebuilding the economy is going to take time beyond the mid-term elections.

    October 11, 2009 at 8:08 am |
  26. Vincent Matos

    President Obama said he will end don't ask . He didn't give time frame. I say so what. No one gave a time frame to Blacks for thier rights. He said he will end it. That means within his term. That's good enough for me.

    October 11, 2009 at 8:08 am |
  27. Jennifer Norris

    I see no change, again empty promises, very Clintonesk. He could end "Don't ask Don't tell" with a stroke of a pen as the commander in chief at any time in a time of war. I wonder about the timing of his speech? Does it have anything to do with the failure of healthcare? It just sounded like a run of the mill campaign speech with no call to action, no dates, no end to any discrimination. Perks for federal workers, what else is new?

    October 11, 2009 at 8:11 am |
  28. Name Secret


    I am a Paramedic in North Carolina and am Gay. I am not fully open with my co-workers about my personal life. and its hard to hide my boyfriend of 1 year. Many think being gay is about sex, but they are mistaking. My partner and I share love as any heterosexual couple. And yes it is a civil rights fight. If my co-workers and supervisors found out about my sexuality I would probably end up unemployed, as they would find another reason. Really sickening that I can perform my job as they think heterosexual, but if they find out different I'm discussting

    October 11, 2009 at 8:26 am |
  29. Marie

    Our courageous and dedicated gay service members have pledged to dedicate their career so that you can live your life in a free country. It is ironic that they fight and can die for your freedom, but as of now, they cannot live their lives with freedom. Ending discrimination is all its forms is the right thing to do. I applaud the President for stating he will end this outrageously discriminatory poilicy! Timeline, please.....

    October 11, 2009 at 8:27 am |
  30. Javier Merida

    I think it's awesome that Obama made such speech at the HRC dinner, and i hope this gives momentum to the civil rights movement in our country. The CHANGE we need... is ACTION. How about no more vacations or breaks at congress and the senate and start making some decisions that protect and respects US, the citizens. Pres. Obama must come to an achievable timeline as of yesterday. C'mon we've been waiting way too many years...We still have hope, but ACTION is needed.

    October 11, 2009 at 8:31 am |
  31. Kevin

    Are we in a time of war? It is my understanding that this is not a declared war. I could be wrong.

    October 11, 2009 at 8:31 am |
  32. Roger Donlin

    Some comments regarding our governments policy of "Don't ask don't tell" regarding same gender sexual preference which the president has insisted he will change.

    In the reports and opinions I have heard from various news sources, I have not heard anyone observe that those who serve in the military will find life significantly altered if the current policy is changed. Nor has anyone explored the obvious question. Why has no one asked those whose lives will change how they feel and what they think is acceptable to their lives? I understand that our military is not a democracy and that the soldiers, Air Force members, sailors and marines will salute and carry on no matter what is done. But, wouldn't one think that the president and one or more committees of Congress that should be involved would conduct a study, a nonbinding secret ballot poll would be great, to determine what military members think this social aspect of their service should be like?

    The question should be asked for a reason that seems obvious to me. Compare openly gay persons living with heterosexuals to women living with men. In our military today women live in close proximity to men, sometimes in the same building. But, men and women are not mixed in sleeping rooms except in extreme circumstances. Never are men and women required to share the same bathing and toilet facilities, at least at the same times. We think that this is right for reason of modesty and for reason of physical privacy between those who could be sexually attracted one to the other. No one wants to feel threatened or to feel their modesty has been compromised. Doesn't it seem reasonable that our Commander-In-Chief, who is authorized to be the top of the chain of military command, and our Congress, which has responsibility for the Uniform Code of Military Justice, should ask those who serve in our military whether they feel that their modesty is compromised or that their sexual privacy is threatened by certain knowledge of those with sexual preference for persons of the same gender sharing sleeping, bathing and toilet facilities?

    Roger Donlin
    Conyers, GA

    October 11, 2009 at 8:44 am |
  33. Pauly

    Many of those drafted during the Viet Nam war tried to get out of serving their country by saying they were gay. It didn't work for the majority. They gladly accepted many that were actually gay. Gays didn't have an effect on me as I was sworn to do my duty. It should be no different now. Gay or straight, the men & women next to you may save your life. We have major problems in the military now, especially w/ private contractors. So the outdated don't ask, don't tell policy should be canceled.

    October 11, 2009 at 8:52 am |
  34. Wendy

    Obama appropriated the old commercial–"Promise her anything but give her Arpege"–only he promises EVERYTHING and delivers on nothing. Promises to gays won't be any different–after all, no time frame.

    October 11, 2009 at 9:04 am |
  35. Name Secret

    Yes we are at war, Operation Iraqi Freedom, and a major militia manhunt for Al Queda Members so you can be safe. War on Terrorism.

    October 11, 2009 at 9:10 am |
  36. Peleti

    Great speech. Now let's just get it done and over with. Who cares about their sexual preferences. They're Americans who want to fight for this country as much as a straight person would. Let them already!

    October 12, 2009 at 2:08 pm |