My but this has been an exciting roller coaster of largely unforeseen DADT-related events! First there was the ruling in Riverside that DADT is unconstitutional, which will probably not be the last word on DADT but is certainly encouraging. Today, two more stories seem specifically designed to keep our minds on this bizarre national drama, and to support our desperate hope that someday this pointless and shameful chapter in America’s history can be closed. The first one obviously has to do with Lady Gaga – as you are probably already aware if you own a television or Twitter account, Lady Gaga’s escort to the Video Music Awards was a group of four American soldiers who had been discharged under DADT, including lesbian West Point cadet Katie Miller.
Aside from looking remarkably fierce, these four soldiers guaranteed that dozens of cameras and millions of eyes were on Don’t Ask Don’t Tell and that America had to take thirty seconds off from thinking about Kanye and Taylor Swift to think about, you know, the people who defend our country’s right to hold a million-dollar event centered around music videos. (@advocate)
Also in the vein of drawing public attention to the issue, former Major Margaret Witt is suing the military for reinstatement to the Air Force, also basing her case on an argument of DADT’s unconstitutionality. Her discharge and subsequent lawsuit began in 2004; the case goes to federal trial on Monday. Several of her former colleagues plan to testify that Witt was highly competent and qualified, and that it was her discharge that lowered morale in the unit, not her sexual orientation. She also has declarations from 19 former and current members of her unit that confirm that her being a lesbian has not impacted their ability to do their jobs.
In response, the Justice Department has written that “Those co-workers are not military commanders, and the military cannot operate by a unit referendum process in which disciplinary policies and outcomes are determined by the individual opinions of a few unit members.” While the chain of command is clearly pretty important in the military, I think they’ve lost me on this one. Is the point of DADT not that it improves “military readiness” by allowing soldiers to do their jobs without being impacted by their colleague’s homosexuality? If so, isn’t that really based almost entirely on “the individual opinions of a few unit members?” (@ap)
Neither of these things will turn the tide on DADT; the Department of Justice will probably still defend it in court, and the Pentagon will still probably slog through its poorly structured, highly biased, and ultimately confusing “survey” of how soldiers and their families feel about a repeal. But even the military is subject to a certain amount of public scrutiny and popular pressure, and I don’t see any way that more visibility for those it impacts can be a bad thing.
Oh also, back to Lady Gaga, she won like a billion awards, including Video of the Year, Best Pop Video and Best Female Video. So probably we will also win everything else soon.