In what becomes a historic day for civil rights in this country, the Senate voted 65-31 to finally repeal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." DADT, the military's homophobic ban on openly gay, lesbian, and bisexual service members, will officially come to an end next week when President Obama signs the bill into law.
CNN reports that:
Clifford Stanley, a retired Marine and the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness, will "immediately proceed" to execute the Pentagon's plan, (Defense Secretary) Gates said.
The entire process, Collins estimates, will take "months, not years" to complete. Until then, Gates said that "the current law and policy will remain in effect."
Although this will not be an overnight change, the support from current armed forces members and commanders should expedite greater acceptance. According to recent polls, of military service members who suspect a fellow unit member to be gay or lesbian, 92% said the ability to work together was "very good, good, or neither good nor poor."
This, in refutation of DADT's explicit concern, that people who
-- demonstrate a propensity or intent to engage in homosexual acts would create an unacceptable risk to the high standards of morale, good order and discipline, and unit cohesion that are the essence of military capability.
This day and age it's laughable to read such a thing. How would someone with intent to engage in a homosexual act create an unacceptable risk to the "high standards" of morale? Good order and discipline? What's this, exactly? And unit cohesion? Someone's personal preference for other people and/or what they do in private has no bearing on any of these. Is morale only high when everyone has to prefer the same thing? Then all unit members should root for the same football teams. Is unit cohesion only attainable if all members have the same private preferences, practices, or beliefs? Then all members should be Christian. Or Atheist. Or Muslim. That way "cohesion" would be enhanced, right?
This is the United Freaking States of America--the self-proclaimed melting pot of the world! Our military should be a cross section of who we are, not a uniform enlistment of clones. We are straight, we are gay, and we are all sexualities in between. We are religious, we are not religious, and we are all spiritualities in between. We are male, we are female, and we are all genders in between (and yes, there are some). Our skin is black, it is white, and it is all colors in between.
Any time someone wants to serve this country and potentially give their life for this cause, we should celebrate it--and celebrate this person who sacrifices for others. We should not, therefore, require them to lie about who they are. They are implicitly saying, 'I love and respect this country,' while our reply is 'we only love and respect you if you're not gay or lesbian.'
Thankfully, DADT is over, although this is more than we can say for homophobia, in general. It is indeed a monumental day for civil rights, but we have much ground to cover before full tolerance becomes a reality.