Joyce L. Arnold: Liberal, lesbian, Independent, equality activist, writer.
From the U.S. Army official DADT website:
Since 1993, the law and policy known as ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ … has provided that homosexual conduct is a bar to service in the Armed Forces. On Dec. 22, 2010, the DADT Repeal Act of 2010 became law. It provides for the repeal of DADT to be effective 60 days after the President, the Secretary of Defense, and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff certify to Congress that the Armed Forces are prepared to implement repeal. …
Certification occurred July 22, 2011, and repeal will occur Sept. 20, 2011.
Even as celebratory parties are planned, some are still trying to stop the repeal, probably because they know all the dire predictions they’ve made aren’t going to happen. As reported by Keen News:
In a request that seems more like political theatre than political combat, the House Armed Services Committee sent a plea to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta asking that repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell be delayed. …
In a September 12 letter, Rep. Buck McKeon (R-Calif.), chairman of the House Armed Services, Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC), chairman of the Military Personnel Subcommittee
… claim that they have not received from the DOD ‘revised regulations and a summary of all the specific policy changes, especially with regard to benefits, that will take effect upon repeal.’
A Defense spokeswoman said Thursday, September 14, ‘The repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell will occur, in accordance with the law and after a rigorous certification process, on September 20. Senior Department of Defense officials have advised Congress of changes to regulations and policies associated with repeal.’
The repeal, and the parties, will happen. But of course discrimination isn’t going to magically disappear. Timothy Beauchamp writes at AmericaBlogGay:
… we must temper our celebrations by remembering this is the beginning of winning this particular war. … One thing to note … is that the transgender members of our community still can not serve.
For an idea of continuing complications, check out SLDN’s (pdf) “FREEDOM TO SERVE: The Definitive Guide to LGBT Military Service, 2011 Edition”.
And earlier this month, the Ninth Circuit heard arguments that reinforce the position that the repeal of DADT doesn’t end the problems. Chris Geidner, writing at MetroWeekly:
On Thursday, Sept. 1, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit heard the appeal in Log Cabin Republicans v. United States. …
Henry Whitaker, an attorney with the Department of Justice, defended the government’s position that the case brought by LCR should be dismissed and that the 2010 decision striking down the law as unconstitutional by U.S. District Court Judge Virginia Phillips should be vacated … .
Dan Woods, the attorney for Log Cabin Republicans … laid out the two reasons why LCR argues that the case is not moot and the trial court decision should not be vacated.
‘If this case does not go forward on the merits and if you do not affirm it on the merits … the government will be completely unconstrained in its ability to again ban gay service in the military.’
Also, he said, ‘There are collateral consequences that continue as a result of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ even after repeal.’
There are good reasons for the concerns raised, including that Republican WH wannabe’s seem quite happy to say they’d return to the DADT policy. Who knows if they really would try, but unless DADT is ruled unconstitutional, something like it, or worse, could be introduced. There are other considerations, as Aravosis writes in “Obama admin. asking court to throw out DADT challenge”:
… there are a lot of gay service members who now have a black mark on their military discharge papers – either the discharge was less than honorable, or the papers say why you were discharged (i.e., you’re gay). That’s not acceptable. Nor is it acceptable that the administration is still asking DADT victims to pay back their tuition and training costs to the government.
Other reasons for efforts to delay repeal, and for threats to reinstate a DADT-like policy, are seen in an article by Chris Johnson in the Washington Blade:
… Aaron Belkin, author of ‘How We Won,’ a book on the lessons learned for progressive causes resulting from ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ repeal, said …
‘Sept. 20 is about the cultural change for the military and the political change for gay and lesbian troops … but I would say, even more importantly, it’s a moment when truth and fairness trumped paranoia, and that’s just critical.’ …
Alex Nicholson, executive director of Servicemembers United, said the training in which service members have been participating will have significant influence on the perspective with which troops — and the American public at large — view gay and lesbian people. …
Workplace discrimination against LGBT people could be an issue that gains new focus after ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ repeal. No federal law exists to protect LGBT workers against discrimination. Firing someone for being gay is legal in 29 states and firing someone for being transgender is legal in 35 states.
Prejudice isn’t going to disappear in the military any more than it will disappear in the rest of society. But the acceptance of such is diminishing, something Reps. McKeon and Wilson, and like minded people, fear. One of the most obvious examples of continuing efforts toward equality is around marriage. DOMA remains federal law, and among other things, that means the military is prohibited from recognizing marriage between same-gender couples. Post-DADT, same-sex partners can be named as beneficiaries, but there will be no spousal benefits, like housing and transportation allowances.
There is much to celebrate, and many people to thank for the repeal of DADT. But once the parties are over, the fight for equality goes on. Things are better, but they’re not equal. And things get better because people work to make that happen.
(Photo via LezGetReal)