So much on this topic has been rattling in my brain these recent weeks. I was moved beyond belief when Lt Dan Choi came to Netroots Nation in Las Vegas to give Senator Harry Reid his west point ring. Having recently been formally discharged under Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, he was turning the ring over to the Senator as a reminder that a promise of repeal had been given to him personally. I was sitting right behind him when he stood and saluted Harry Reid & then jumped onstage. Since that moment, the repeal of DADT has been moving along, inch by inch. President Obama prefers that it be repealed the way it was enacted – by Congressional law. He feels this will be the most permanent solution. Because of the nature of the original law, he cannot just strike it down by Presidential decree. Meanwhile many have wondered, including me, why he didn’t at least put a freeze on discharges. He had asked the military to embark on a six month study on how best to implement the repeal & full integration of all branches of service. He’s made it clear to the Pentagon staff that he wants it repealed and they should prepare for that as an inevitability. His Joint Chiefs of Staff have openly supported repeal. So why not a freeze? Especially when so many of the recently publicized discharges were clearly not even done legally.Many were involuntarily outed. They were ASKED when they were not supposed to be. Other people TOLD on them. And they are losing their careers due to these outings. Why continue to let this happen?
Vice President Biden was asked this question in an interview with Rachel Maddow. For the first time, we got a clue – politics. The dismissals were being allowed to go on ostensibly because it would buy them votes. This admission came about a week before the Senate finally did get to vote on it – and…..surprise surprise, the GOP blocked it. Wouldn’t even vote to let it be debated. Add it to the long, long, record setting list of obstructionist filibusters from this session of congress. No deals.
So then why weren’t dismissals stopped? Well, the tune changed to the White House frequently talking about the ‘orderly enactment of repeal’. Wanting to give the military the six months they were granted to complete their review. “We are in a time of war.” they stated. “We cannot disrupt the units fighting overseas.” Eh….I can…see…SOME…logic to that, perhaps? After all, with many of those discharges being the result of someone ASKING when they were not supposed to – when soldiers are being routinely OUTED….that does speak to some divisiveness in the ranks right? Of course, I tend to take Lady Gaga’s stance when approached with that argument – if the straight soldiers cannot handle serving alongside the gay soldiers it seems as if THEY are the ones who should leave! Gay soldiers have been fighting & working in all branches of the military since day one. There is no less honor or dedication or loyalty to their service compared to any others. And *most* straight service members get this. The statistics are in favor *within* the military for repeal of DADT.
Meanwhile, soldiers have been fighting their discharges. They have filed court cases. And they are winning. Judges have declared DADT unconstitutional. They have called IT a policy that divides soldiers and destroys unit cohesion. In these cases, the Department of Justice has been in a position to NOT defend the law. There is precedent to step away. There is also a historical tie in here to the last big civil rights issue. After all, it was a judge who first ruled in favor of the African American right to vote. Congress *followed* a path set by an ‘activist’ judicial branch. Why not allow the same route to equality here? Well, Obama is not taking that opportunity either. He’s standing behind the fact that the DOJ is supposed to, by the letter of the law, defend all existing federal laws on the books, even those he does not currently agree with. Maddening, right? He makes my own sense or pragmatism seem so weak! I had to laugh today when one of my favorite media tweeters reacted this way to the news that the DOJ was filing yet another injunction to halt the judicial repeal of DADT:
EXACTLY!!! And as I was laughing at this last mental image, I’m sure you can figure which President *I* was thinking of who would be more like the “Get ‘er Done” guy!!!!
Yes, I am very very happy to not have Larry the Cable Guy in the White House anymore – still….
I have to wonder what candidate Obama was thinking in his mind when he said he would be a “Fierce advocate” for the gay community. He doesn’t support full gay marriage rights. He has certainly gotten himself stuck in the weeds of the path to DADT repeal. I personally have not yet seen a whole lot of fierce from him yet.
I still believe in him though. I still believe that, at least on DADT, somehow it will get done. But I also *completely* understand those who don’t share my faith. Because I know a lot of my faith is based on my own nature to be patient. To know that progress & equality do come in little fits and starts. But then this doesn’t impact me personally. I am not Lt Dan Choi, or Lt Victor Ferenbach – discharged from their dream careers for something they CANNOT CHANGE. If they have lost faith? I understand why. I will be fierce in my faith and in my efforts towards full equality. Which may mean supporting Obama when he hasn’t exactly shown he deserves it. Because right now he’s all we’ve got. It means supporting Democrats like Harry Reid who don’t seem to be the fighters they claimed to be when it comes time to hustle votes. Because those Democrats are still a better shot than the recent wave of Tea Party driven GOP candidates. I’ll hold my nose and vote in two weeks to hopefully keep as many Dems as possible in office.
And I really really REALLY don’t want a whole bunch of Larry the Cable Guys in DC!