M Y O P I N I O N — Congress just passed the repeal of DADT, Don't Ask Don't Tell. Americans gay and straight can now openly serve in our Armed Forces. Well, "now" is actually about a year away, but there should be no more firings of personnel over this civil rights issue.
What the Republicans don't understand, the VAST majority of them voting to keep the outdated, homophobic and otherwise flawed policy in place, is that this is NOT going to cause an influx of gay soldiers. No one is going to start demanding sequined uniforms and holding afternoon Tea Parties in the gang showers. This bill ensures the approximately 66,000 CURRENTLY SERVING gay and lesbian service members cannot be fired from their jobs just for being WHO they are. Every single fraternization policy will stay in effect, every single sexual harassment rule will stay the same, every single other rule will stay the same as it is now, only gay service people cannot be fired simply for being gay. Period. End of discussion.
Equal Rights is coming along, except for DOMA and ENDA and the Dream Act (which sadly was voted down today), but those fights are for another day, another Congress. Civil Rights is never a done deal, it is a living, breathing spirit that needs to be continually looked at, refreshed and kept current. We will get there, but every day that goes by without equal protection and equal rights under the law for EVERYONE, is a day that is less than it should be.
One thing that really peeves me: The newly-elected Democratic Senator from West Virginia, Joe Manchin, who is filling the seat for the late Robert Byrd, is absent from Washington today. He has gone on record saying he feels DADT should be repealed, but voted against it last week. He let his "bosses" know that he was not going to vote today for the Dream Act, DADT or the START Treaty, three of the most important pieces of legislation in the past several years. He is already afraid for his bid for REELECTION in 2012, and doesn't want to vote for anything that might jeopardize those chances. What the heck is a Senator's job anyway? Is it to have the courage of your convictions and do what you think is right, and VOTE, or is it to secure your job for the next time you're up for reelection? What's the point of even being elected? I'm completely beside myself at his lack of spine and I feel, frankly, he should be recalled immediately (if West Virginia has a recall clause) in favor of someone that will actually do the damn job.
And lastly, for those that feel this is a generational issue, that once the "old guard" is dead and gone, this won't be an issue, that's a cop out as far as I'm concerned, a way for BIGOTS to conceal their true beliefs. My dad fought in World War 2. He was in the Navy from 1938-50, and in the Army from 1950-61. He fought against Japan and Germany, and then lived in Japan from 1950-55 and Germany from 1955-61 rebuilding those countries, reconstructing buildings and relationships. He had Japanese and German friends, he bought Japanese and German cars. He never confused governments, or government policies with people. When I came out to him in the late 1970s, he was 100% supportive and made me promise to bring home any guy I was dating so he could make sure he was good enough for me (I never found one good enough for me, lol, but that's another story!). Although my dad died in 1986, I'm positive he would have been completely behind the repeal of DADT. People like McCain are just bigots, pure and simple, it has nothing to do with their age.
I've been sitting here typing this in one of my dad's old Master Sergeant army coats, so he's here with me as this historic day continues. Cheers!