"Don't Ask, Don't Tell" in State of the Union?

(CBS/ AP)
Gay rights groups, which have been critical of President Obama for his lack of action on issues such as the military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy and the Defense of Marriage Act, will be watching the president's State of the Union address closely Wednesday to see whether and how he addresses gay rights.

The White House and Democrats in Congress have indicated in recent weeks that they would try to get a repeal of the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy, which prevents gays from serving openly in the military, into this year's Defense Appropriations bill.

But with Democrats scrambling following a week that included the doubly-whammy of Scott Brown's victory in a Massachusetts special election and a Supreme Court decision that will likely benefit Republicans in election campaigns, there is concern that the White House will not follow through on the plan.

Now Democratic Sen. Carl Levin, Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, is saying he expects the president to address "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" in the speech, CBS News Capitol Hill producer John Nolen reports.

Levin said he didn't know what or how much the president would say on the topic.

The senator, who originally wanted to hold hearings on the policy in January, said the White House and Pentagon asked him to hold off until after the State of the Union address.

"We were told by the Pentagon that they expected the president to say something in the State of the Union on it," he said.

Levin said he now hopes to hold hearings in early February.

Meanwhile, Richard Socarides, a Clinton White House advisor on gay issues, has taken a shot at the administration for not yet acting to repeal the policy, which Mr. Obama said he opposed during his presidential campaign.

In the Wall Street Journal, Socarides writes that "[m]any wonder when their president will show the same kind of concern for the constitutional rights of gay American service members as he has for enemy combatants held at Guantanamo Bay."

He casts "Mr. Obama's oversensitivity to a dwindling minority of bigots" as "especially troubling."

"Hundreds of military careers have been destroyed on his watch for no valid reason," writes Socarides. "The country has been deprived of the talents of these service members and has wasted millions of dollars on their training."

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