DADT is Dead…Or Is It?
The vote was 63-33. Several Republicans crossed over to vote with the Democrats on the bill.
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.
The mission is not finished; it has only just begun. The most critical mission is supporting and encouraging closeted soldiers to finally access their full integrity, dignity, and humanity. This mission is in keeping with the first lessons learned at West Point or basic training. As the legislation signals a new chapter in our journey, we can be sure that our work has only begun. I call on all soldiers to gain the courage to come out. First come out to yourselves, then tell your trusted friends and family. Tell everyone who you trust and who deserves nothing less than truth. Stop hating yourselves as your country has signaled for so long. Furthermore, your coming out is not for you. It is for all those who come after. Military service is not about rank, pension or paycheck. Climbing the ladder is shameful without true purity of service and I applaud those who give up the superficial artifacts of career in favor of complete integrity and justice.
I denounce the fear-mongering of John McCain and others who do our country a grave disservice by their bigotry and calcified retardation. His outlandish remarks that justice will result in amputations demonstrates the ridiculousness of his entire argument. His silliness proves the fight for justice has no real logical debate; you are on one side or the other. John McCain, you are on the wrong side of history. Your feet wade in the toxic septic waste of rabid hate-mongers who perpetuate America’s injustice. It is your argument that has been amputated today; your claims have no legs to stand.
President Obama, you are not off the hook. The compromise bill passed today puts the moral imperative squarely on your desk. Sign an executive order instituting a full non-discrimination policy throughout the military. If you do not, if you drag your feet and politicize this with your theoretical calculations as you have these past two years, you will be guilty of abetting those who loudly proclaim homophobia from their platforms and pulpits. Provide them no shelter or safe haven. Institute justice now.
Do not compare this to the integration of racial and religious minorities in the 1940’s and 1950’s. Integration of gay people has already happened. This is one inherent difference between our civil rights movement and that of the past decades. We are integrated, we simply fight for our integrity. As each civil rights movement fights for access to a particular resource, it is clear that the gay rights movement fights for access to dignity and our own integrity. This struggle only begins.
I intend to rejoin the military and serve in any capacity I can be of best use. I intend to marry and have a family of my own. We are living in a truly historic moment where we can enjoy the rewards of our efforts. We stand on the shoulders of many who have come before us, from Air Force Technical Sergeant Leonard Matlovich to our present day heroes. We owe it to them to continue fighting. Our loudness does not distract but enhances the fight. Our direct action puts wind in the sails of lobbyists and political elites who do our bidding on the inside. We are one team with one goal: Equality in our lifetime. I do not intend to waver or retreat in pursuit of this new life purpose and mission, and neither should any American who loves justice.
Speaking of those heroes in the fight, here is a link to that will allow you to sign an open letter of thanks to those gay vets and activists who helped to bring about the end of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” It is sponsored by John Aravosis and Joe Sudbay, editors of AmericaBlog, and will be sent to the leaderships of Servicemembers United and the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN).
While this is a great civil rights victory, some others are cautioning everyone that this fight is still not over yet. From Slinkerwink over at Daily Kos:
Even though there are those that think that this law somehow means that DADT is finally dead, there remains one last battle to ensure that DADT will be finally removed. That one last battle is certification. Now, what’s certification, and what does it have to do with ensuring the death of DADT?
Now, DADT as a policy will still remain in effect until the White House, along with the Secretary of Defense, and the military chiefs certify a plan to minimize “disruption” in the armed services.
Even after the repeal bill is signed into law by the president, the “don’t ask, don’t tell” strictures will remain in place until the White House and Pentagon certify a plan to minimize disruption on the services.
Defense Secretary Robert Gates has said he would not do that until the service chiefs are confident the moves will not disrupt combat operations, and refused to set any specific timeline on how long that might take. Three of the four service chiefs have strongly resisted repeal of the “don’t ask, don’t tell” law during wartime, although they have testified that troops would adapt if Congress mandates it.
Even Robert Gates himself has said that DADT itself will still remain in effect until the certification plan passes. That’s why continued activism from our gay activists and straight allies is so important in making sure that our men and women in uniform no longer suffer the indignity of being dismissed for who they are. Imagine that—continued dismissals, investigations, and badges of shame instead of honor, all during the continued “enactment” of this law in name only without the certification plan. It will continue to happen unless we stand up and fight against it.
There is more here, but I too urge people to keep vigilant because it is not over yet. Service people can still be ousted from the Armed Services; the wheels have not yet stopped turning on discharges and the like.
Some commentators have remarked that it doesn’t make sense for liberals or progressives to ballyhoo the end of DADT because it will means that more people may enter the military. I myself have no real liking for the military or military life, but who am I to dissuade others who want the right to represent their country? Instead, I abhor the policies of this government that turns many young men and women into cannon fodder, and in the cases of Iraq and Afghanistan, for merely saving face.
Many of the early Nichiren Buddhists were also from the samurai class; they did not stop being samurai or take the tonsure (monkhood) or became pacifists when they decided to follow the holy sage. He advised them to continue in their positions and duties much the same, and to the best of their ability.
I’d like to reiterate that this civil rights victory will make it possible for soldiers of color to benefit from the death of DADT. Black men and women who have become career soldiers and are quietly gay or lesbian will no longer have to hide their inclinations as long as they continue to perform in the same caliber of service as they had before. They will be able to retire with honor, with full benefits, and not have their reputations and records besmirched because who they are.
So, I celebrate with all conscious people at this historic vote, and I reiterate my support for gay and lesbian, bisexual and transgender people of all colors enjoying their human rights in this country and around the world.