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Pentagon to comply with order to end 'don't ask'

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Obama has said that he opposes "don't ask, don't tell" but that he prefers that it be repealed by Congress.

"The Justice Department is defending the statute, as it traditionally does when acts of Congress are challenged," spokeswoman Tracy Schmaler said in a statement. "The President believes and has repeatedly affirmed that 'don't ask, don't tell' is a bad policy that harms our national security and undermines our military effectiveness. . . . The President and his Administration are working with the military leadership and Congress to repeal this law."

At an MTV forum Thursday, when Obama was pressed by an audience member on why he hasn't ended the policy, the president said his hands are tied until the Senate acts.

"This is not a situation in which, with the stroke of a pen, I can end the policy," he said. "I think people are born with a certain makeup and that we're all children of God. We don't make determinations about who we love."

In another dust-up, White House senior adviser Valerie Jarrett apologized Thursday for referring to homosexuality as a "lifestyle choice" in a Washingtonpost.com video discussion.

"I apologize to any who have taken offense at my poor choice of words," she wrote in an e-mail to columnist Jonathan Capehart. "Sexual orientation and gender identity are not a choice, and anyone who knows me and my work over the years knows that I am a firm believer and supporter in the rights of LGBT Americans."

sandhya@washpost.com ed.okeefe@washpost.com


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