When Barack Obama sought the presidency, he pledged to reverse the "Don't ask, don't tell" policy preventing gays and lesbians from serving openly in the U.S. military. Yet on Monday, the Supreme Court rejected a gay Ohio soldier's challenge to the law — with the legal backing of none other than the Obama Administration. James Pietrangelo II, the former Army infantryman and lawyer whose case the high court declined to review, reserved most of his ire for President Obama instead of the court. "He's a coward, a bigot and a pathological liar," Pietrangelo said in an interview with TIME shortly after the high court declined to hear his appeal. "This is a guy who spent more time picking out his dog, Bo, and playing with him on the White House lawn than he has working for equality for gay people," he added. "If there were millions of black people as second-class citizens, or millions of Jews or Irish, he would have acted immediately" upon taking office to begin working to lift "Don't ask, don't tell." Pietrangelo fought in Iraq in 1991 as an infantryman, and returned as a JAG officer for the second Iraq War, before being booted out in 2004 for declaring he was gay as he was readying for a third combat tour. He was representing himself before the high court.
The Obama Administration, in its brief in the case last month, said a lower court acted properly in upholding the gay ban. "Applying the strong deference traditionally afforded to the Legislative and Executive Branches in the area of military affairs, the court of appeals properly upheld the statute," argued Elena Kagan, who as Solicitor General represents the Administration before the Supreme Court. The bar on gays serving openly is "rationally related to the government's legitimate interest in military discipline and cohesion," her 12-page filing added.