DON’T ASK DON’T TELL:
People have some pretty strong feelings about Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, and I don’t know that “compromise” was really what anyone was looking for. But it looks like that’s what we’re getting – today the White House agreed to support an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act that would repeal Don’t Ask Don’t Tell this year, but the repeal will only go into effect after the Department of Defense has completed its 10-month “review” of what a repeal would mean for the armed forces. Depending on how you look at it, this is either everyone getting what they want or no one getting what they want. It’s clear how Lt. Dan Choi feels:
What this decision means is that while Obama is in fact very definitively moving towards a DADT repeal – documents that signify the death of the policy may be signed as early as next week – things will not actually be any different for gay servicemembers for a long time, for as long as it takes for the DoD to ruminate on the issue. In fact, this is more or less the opposite of what Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi has argued for – that discharges of queers be suspended while we figure out whether they are, you know, constitutional. It’s a frustrating kind of paradox that while the President has apparently thrown his full backing behind a repeal and agrees that firing soldiers for being gay is stupid, soldiers are still getting fired for being gay. Honestly, Lt. Choi is 100% correct – DADT is not dead, not in a way that has any meaning for the people it affects.
At the same time, though, this is not a surprise. While it would be great for Obama to have signed off on this today, and presented Lt. Choi with a rainbow medal and sent everyone back to the front, this move is pretty much in line with everything the government has indicated about its position. As Defense Secretary Gates and Obama himself have said, the DoD “review” is about how to have a DADT repeal happen, not necessarily whether it should happen or not. So while Obama wants to take this opportunity to prove to everyone how serious he is about making this happen, he’s going to defer to the military to figure out the best way to approach it, and they’re pretty insistent that they need the next 10 months to figure that out. This would perhaps be easier to swallow if they were a little more transparent about what they were analyzing, but maybe that’s too much to hope for. Obama has said that he’s “committed to getting this done both soon and right,” and it appears he’s asking us to sacrifice a little on “soon” for the sake of “right.”
Regardless of whether you feel this is a meaningful step towards a DADT repeal or not, we should be able to agree that it’s a meaningful step for gay activism of all stripes. The decision today was reached after meeting with Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, Servicemembers United, and the Human Rights Campaign. A lot of people have worked hard and sacrificed more for this campaign than most of us can imagine – while a “compromise” probably wasn’t the goal they were working towards, this is one of the most identifiable moments of an institution really being made to hear our voices, and while we may not be willing to call this a victory, we shouldn’t call it a defeat either.
For a more in-depth analysis, reactions and responses from gay organizations, and a chance to look at the actual documents and communications involved, check out the posts at Queerty, Joe My God, and Pam’s House Blend.
School district denies steering lesbian teen to sham prom: “A rural Mississippi school district sued by a lesbian teen who wanted to bring a female date to the prom denies that it steered Contance McMillen to a sham prom while her classmates partied elsewhere.” (@usa today)
YOU LIKE US, YOU KINDA LIKE US:
Gallup reports: Over 50% of Americans support the “moral acceptability” of gay & lesbian relationships! Isn’t that so kind! Apparently this is the first time it’s crossed the “symbolic 50% threshhold.” Also, the lowest percentage ever thing our relations are “morally wrong” (that’d be 43%) (@gallup)
Denial of gay rights adds to risk of Aids:The denial of human rights of all kinds has a very negative effect on the Aids response. Men who have sex with men are at risk of HIV transmission in all regions of the world, including Africa. (@guardian)
HARVEY MILK DAY:
Harvey Milk remembered on Castro Street on day in his honor: About 200 people were on Castro Street last weekend for the dedication of a plaque honoring Harvey Milk. It read: “Harvey Milk/ Forceful advocate for the rights of all/ ‘Burst down those closet doors/ once and for all/ and stand up and start to fight.’” (@sfpublicpress)