The White House insists that President Obama is committed to repealing "Don't ask, don't tell," the Pentagon policy on gays in the military. Press Secretary Robert Gibbs reaffirmed the president's position on the rule in Wednesday's daily press briefing, following several protests this week from a vocal gay and lesbian group that's growing impatient with what they see as inaction.
"The president wants to see this law change just as you've heard the chair of the Joint Chiefs and others in the military say that it's time for that change to happen," Gibbs told reporters.
As a candidate Mr. Obama promised supporters that he would repeal "Don't ask, don't tell" which was introduced as legislation in 1993. But since reiterating his support of a ban in his January State of the Union address, the policy has stood in limbo.
"This year, I will work with Congress and our military to finally repeal the law that denies gay Americans the right to serve the country they love because of who they are," Obama said in his address. At the time, that wasn't good enough for members of the LGBT community.
Following his speech, the National Gay and Lesbian task force posted an open letter to the president challenging him to do more. "The next time the president speaks to or about our community, he must provide a concrete blueprint for his leadership and action moving forward," wrote the organization's executive director Rea Carey. "The time to get down to business if overdue. We wish we had heard him speak of concrete steps in his address to Congress and the nation."
Fast forward three months later and the gay community is still anxiously awaiting the repeal they were promised.
The frustration was evident on Monday night, when members of the group GetEQUAL disrupted a Los Angeles fundraiser the president attended for Senator Barbara Boxer. A handful of protesters interrupted Mr. Obama as he was mid-sentence, shouting questions about "Don't ask, don't tell." The president responded by telling them that the rule would be repealed.
The group followed up with an appearance at the White House Tuesday afternoon, where six people in military uniforms chained themselves to the fence in front of the North Lawn. They were eventually detained by police.
GetEQUAL posted a statement urging the president to immediately fulfill his promise of banning the legislation.
"Your words mean nothing without action. And you have an opportunity to take action right now," the statement read.
The White House says it didn't misjudge the level of patience among activists, but declined to give a timetable for when the ban might occur.
"The president has a process and a proposal, I think, that he believes is the best way forward to seeing... the commitment that he's made for many years enshrined into changing that law," said Gibbs.