Something just happened that some people never see in their lifetimes: a politician admitted he was wrong, apologized, and committed himself to righting the issue. Roy Ashburn, who had a strong anti-gay voting record and who was arrested on a DUI driving home from a gay nightclub with an unidentified man, originally insisted that he stood by his voting record even after being outed because it was “his duty to his constituents.” But it appears he’s changed his mind:
”My practice in my entire political career when it came to gay issues was to prevent any kind of spotlight from being shined my way, because I was in hiding. So casting any kind of vote might, could in some way, lead to my secret being revealed…. That was terrifying to me. It was paralyzing. So I cast some votes that have denied gay people of their basic, equal treatment under the law, and I’m not proud of it. I’m not going to do that again.”
And it appears he might be serious: this week he asked his fellow senators to support Congress’s repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. I hate to be premature, but this could be really important. Not just because we’d have one more senator who will generally vote our way, but because Ashburn represents what an historic transitional moment we’re in. This is a person who lived in secrecy for almost his entire life; in his own words he was “terrified” and “paralyzed” by the threat of what would happen if anyone knew he was gay.
This isn’t new; this has been the story of untold numbers of people over the years, and more politicians than we’ll ever know. But Ashburn’s about-face proves that we’ve moved on from that time in some small, incremental way; that while people are still scared and silent, and understandably so, there is legitimately another option. Instead of resigning or being forced out of the Senate in disgrace or even jailed, Ashburn has the opportunity to just change his mind. We live in a world now where that option exists. It’s not an easy choice, to take a deep breath and straighten your tie and decide that you’ll just start being braver than you ever thought you were capable of, but it’s there. And it’s something to keep in mind during the upcoming DADT struggle as well – that while it’s harder than it should be and completely unfair, it’s also the first time that this has ever been a real possibility for us, and that’s something to be proud of. (@metroweekly)
It’s Memorial Day, and our thoughts turn to those servicemen and women who have lived and died in service for our country. Autumn at Pam’s House Blend has a great post on the indignity of dying in the closet while serving in the military. As a transgender identified veteran, I realize that if I’d have died in service to my country when I was active duty servicemember, my unacknowledged transgender identity would have died with me. Considering how important my transgender identity — my LGBT community identity — is to me now, that’s a fairly weighty thought. (@pamshouseblend)
Also, Defense Secretary Robert Gates has videotaped a message to the troops regarding the latest steps on DADT’s repeal, urging them not to “become distracted.” Nice to know that our government maintains very high expectations for the people whose lives it risks every day. (@joemygod)
Mary Cheney, daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, is an out lesbian. But she’s supporting a Republican candidate in Florida, Bill McCollum, who opposes same-sex adoption. The Bilerico Project wonders, understandably, what the children of Cheney and her partner think about this. (@thebilericoproject)
Expedia.com and the International Gay and Lesbian Travel Association are partnering to create a new travel site dedicated to gay and lesbian customers. The service will point travelers towards gay-friendly travel destinations both in the US and internationally; it will also list LGBT events and festivals. (@southfloridagaynews)