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The end of DADT – a victory for civil rights and a victory for Obama

December 19, 2010

Today is a great day – today is a day I get to remove one of my support banners from my blog – not because I no longer support the cause but because this cause has been fulfilled.  Today I take down my DADT repeal banner.  And I replace it with a victory banner.

Despite the ever increasingly odd behavior from Senator John McCain over why the 17 year policy of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell should not be repealed, 65 senators, over 31 – thats more than 2 to 1 votes, decided that enough was enough, and put an end to a policy that has seen over 13,000 servicemen and women removed from the service of the United States military just because of who they fall in love with.

John McCain can continue to claim that this is a “sad day” and can continue to claim without validation and evidence, that the repeal will somehow endanger US personnel on the frontline, but let me say this – McCain, you just got your ass handed to ya!

Speaking to ABC, McCain, who has acted like a two year old on a constant strop for the past two years since loosing the Presidential election, said:

“I hope that when we pass this legislation that we will understand that we are doing great damage,”

This despite the Pentagon study that was released earlier this month which showed most service personnel felt it would have no effect – and this despite all evidence that allied countries to the US, including the UK and Israel have not suffered one bit in unit cohesiveness due to gay men and women being able to serve openly.  Of course we will continue to see certain members of the right wing’s heads explode, as Right Wing Watch noted last night, when it posted reactions from extreme right wing religious leaders such as Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association who said:

We will no longer be able to bail out these other emasculated armies because ours will now be feminized and neutered beyond repair, and there is no one left to bail us out. We have been permanently weakened as a military and as a nation

And add to that the venomous Tony Perkins of the American Family Association, who in the past have made up avidavits in their efforts to discredit people (see case of AFA vs Marilyn Manson), who said:

This may advance the cause of reshaping social attitudes regarding human sexuality, but it will only do harm to the military’s ability to fulfill its mission.

And of course in the closing debates, these “fears” were echoed by hardline Republicans such as Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga who suggested that repeal during the time of war is dangerous:

It does have the potential for increasing the risk of harm and death to our men and women who are serving in combat today. If for no other reason, we ought not to repeal this today. Should it be done at some point in time? Maybe so, but in the middle of a military conflict is not the time to do it,

History however proves her wrong – intergration of black service personnel happened during the Korean War – the military did not fall apart despite similar arguments suggesting so at the time, and as the military always does, it pulls up it’s boot straps and it moves on.

See lets boil it back down – groups such as MassResistance: can suggest that this opens straight men and women up to danger from gay comrades who will now put aside their restraint and training and discipline and jump their unsuspecting fellow soldiers;

Now, with the repeal of the ban on homosexuals serving openly, we will see increased tensions, this time with an unnatural and perverted sexuality endangering discipline—and it will be more pervasive in the daily life of a soldier. Where men and women are at least segregated in their housing, bathrooms, etc., this will not be the case with homosexuals

BUT this is not, as I have argued before, about sex, no matter how much Fischer and others may fixate on it – this is about a man or a woman who serves their country, not being kicked out because someone finds out they are gay, who does not have to appear cold and uncaring because they do not discuss their partner waiting at home, because that partner happens to be the same gender – who does not have to live day to day in a lie and lying to the people they are supposed to trust and who trust them.

The Huffington Post recently posted a story which showed a letter from a gay soldier that he wrote before going out on a tour of duty (first posted on Jezebel.com).  In this heartfelt communication he posted about his fears of being outted and his fears about what it meant to his partner:

I’m writing letters to my loved ones in case I don’t return from Afghanistan. I hope my partner never has to open his. If he does, it will ask him to tell who I was, because I couldn’t….The silence is the hardest part. I listen intently as my fellow soldiers talk about facing the reality of leaving their loved ones for a year and all the life events that will be missed. I don’t talk about my own experience at all, because it’s easier to come across as cold and removed than to risk slipping and mentioning that my loved one is of the same gender. For all I know, there are other gay soldiers in my unit, ones who understand what I’m going through. My gay friends in civilian life are supportive, but they don’t often understand the military or soldiering. That camouflage is another burden I carry as I prepare to leave.

This is a demonstrable show of what gay men and women has had to endure – and will not have to anymore.

Although the repeal will not be immediatley effective – as Robert Gates noted the policy will remain effective for a short while longer, this is a victory for Obama – okay I know I am going to get some flack for this, but please hear me out.  I have watched on the various blogs and news message boards over the past couple of years the frustration the GBLT community has had with President Obama as it seemed he fought to overturn court findings that saw DADT as unconstitutonal and fought to repeal decisions by judges that asked for reinstatements of service personnel kicked out because they were found to be gay, but right from the beginning, President Obama was clear – DADT could not be stopped by a Judge through judicial process because it would only take another Judge to overturn that decision. Don’t Ask Don’t Tell was a law – a mandatory Federal Law – which meant the only people who could effectively remove it would be the same lawmaker group that made it.  Some offered that Obama could use “Executive Action” to repeal but then many who already have it in for the President would claim this was a dictatorship action.

So repeal is a victory – a little more battered than anyone wanted it to be – a little later than anyone for repeal wanted it to be and of course understandably for those who fought for repeal, with a fight that even felt as if one was fighting the President himself, but this is law, and not just a Democrat law – Republican Senators walked across the aisle to join Democrats to repeal this outdated act. And no one can blame so called “activist judges” no one can claim President Obama did this without talking, taking stock of the impact of his military or the commanders or the American people – this is law, and will be signed into law with the approval of the House and Senate. And that to me is a victory – it makes it solid and with merit.

The end of DADT will restore intergrity to men and women who have chosen to fight for the freedom and safety of their conutry.  As Admiral Mike Mullen said:

No longer will able men and women who want to serve and sacrifice for their country have to sacrifice their integrity to do so. We will be a better military as a result.

I leave the last words to one of the most vocal and visible fighters against Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, Lt Dan Choi

No revolution towards justice ever went backwards. To all the supporters of equality and Don’t Ask Don’t Tell’s death, I am so grateful. The road has not been easy. We have learned many important lessons about social justice, movements, supporting each other, and speaking out against discrimination.

And to the Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese:

Today, America lived up to its highest ideals of freedom and equality. Congress recognized that all men and women have the right to openly serve their country…Plenty of people had already planned the funeral for this legislation. Today, we pulled out a victory from what was almost certain defeat just a few days ago. We are grateful to President Obama, Majority Leader Reid and Sens. Lieberman, Collins and countless others for their dogged determination to repeal DADT.

BTW for anyone interested, the Human Rights Campaign has put together a PDF to show how the repeal will be passaged:  http://www.hrc.org/sites/repealdadt/pdfs/Pathway%20to%20Final%20Repeal.pdf

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. afrankangle permalink
    December 20, 2010 12:32 pm

    The swiftness that DADT ended this weekend caught me by surprise … and it was that handful of rogue Republicans that pushed it over. Senator McCain continues to put his best cranky foot forward … (he’s lost his leadership) … and Saxby Chambliss sounds better as a type of bourbon than a soundbyte.

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