John Smart

The 21st Century – are we ready for it?

By - Oct 20th, 2010 04:00 am

Photo illustration by Brian Jacobson

What do the following nations have in common?  Albania, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Russia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom and about a dozen others?

Give up?  They all welcome gay men and lesbians to serve in their military services.

Now, what do these nations have in common?  Cuba, China, Egypt, Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Yemen and the United States?  You guessed it!  Is this really the crowd we want to be associated with?

Bill Clinton wanted to end discrimination of gays in the military by executive order, much as Harry Truman had ended racial discrimination, but was foiled by intense opposition in the congress.  “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” was the compromise, and it has proven unwieldy at best.  Many fine military professionals have been separated from the services because of this, including a significant number of much-needed linguists and intelligence experts.

Because DADT is statutorial, a policy created by an Act of Congress, the President is no longer able to end it by executive order – it requires another Act of Congress.  Congressman Patrick Murphy [D-PA], a bronze star winner for his service in Iraq, sponsored such an act and it was passed in the House on May 27th of this year as an amendment to the military procurement act for year 2011 by a vote of 234-194.

Sadly, and not surprisingly, the amendment (and thus the entire military budget) fell victim to a Republican filibuster in the Senate led by none other than John McCain (R-AZ).  Back when McCain was still considered a maverick, he said that he would agree with ending DADT, on the advice of the military leaders.  Well, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Admiral Mullen and Secretary of Defense Gates have called for the end of DADT, but now McCain is running for re-election as a hardcore conservative, so…   Such is politics in the Age of the Tea Party of NO!

However, now it seems that the federal courts will preempt the congress.  In an act of supreme irony, the Log Cabin Republicans, an organization of gay GOP members, filed suit against the U.S.A. for discrimination, and Federal District Judge Virginia A. Phillips of the Central California District Court found in their favor!  She issued her ruling on September 9th, saying that the DADT policy is clearly unconstitutional.  When the U.S. Senate filibustered, refusing to end the policy on September 21st, Judge Phillips reconsidered her delay and, on October 12th, she ordered the military to end the policy, to “suspend and discontinue any and all investigations, discharges, separations or other proceedings that have been commenced under the ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ policy.”

historical photo of Soldiers in the Phillipines posted by Okinawa Soba on flickr.

The administration had sixty days to consider challenging Judge Phillips’ decision, and has indeed announced that it will.  The Justice Department insists that President Obama intends to do away with the DADT rule, but that it should be done by the congress, not through a court order. It is assumed that the Senate will reconsider this matter in their post-election “lame duck” session before the sixty day limit, and hopefully do away with this shameful “compromise” altogether.  It is to be hoped that will happen and that the issue is not eventually rendered to the “tender mercies” of the Roberts Supreme Court!

It seems that the homophobic right wing citizens in the country are about to be reversed.  It’s inevitable anyway.  The younger generations have no problems with gays, lesbians, bi-sexuals and transgendered people, and major societal changes, including gay marriage, will happen as soon as these young folks take over.  Let’s hope it’s soon!

Categories: Commentary

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