Wednesday, May 26, 2010

"We're Not Out Of The Woods Yet"

cross-posted from Sum of Change

History repeats itself. It is 1948. Not literally of course, but we are about to relive a moment of U.S. history. A moment in history when our government, with the President leading the charge, took steps to remove a form of bigotry from our armed forces. For several years leading up to that point, the government had experimented with integrated units, providing black soldiers with a chance to serve in the normal people's army (kind of).

As the Don't Ask Don't Tell policy (the homosexual's equivalent to experimental desegregation) takes center stage amidst reports of a potential deal, the folks from Get Equal are cautioning people not to celebrate too quickly.
This language shifts responsibility for repeal from Congress to the President, the Secretary of Defense, and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff -- two-thirds of whom were not elected by a supportive American public.[1] Repeal hinges on a subjective study to ensure that our presence in the military won't have a negative impact on the military, there is no date given to end military discharges of LGBT servicemembers, there is no change to the DADT law right now, and there is no guarantee that repeal will happen -- whether or not the conditions on the amendment are met.

We're happy that Congress may take the first step this week in repealing this discriminatory legislation -- but we're not out of the woods yet.
If there is one thing we have learned from recent fights, the Republican party is going to use every available avenue to derail this legislation. This debate is just beginning and the debate will be ugly. We know the debate will be ugly because we have lived through this before.

We have seen how the conservatives react when liberals attempt to use the armed services as a vehicle to drive a radical, social experiment.

They told us that "To change would destroy morale and impair preparations for national experiments should be tried . . . at this critical time."

They told us that "Experiments to solve social problems would be 'fraught with danger to efficiency, discipline, and morale'."

These were the rational arguments they made the last time the nation took steps to remove bigotry from our military. Those calmly stated arguments in favor of bigotry were matched by lone wolf attacks on black service members and their families.

So, while Democratic leaders may be getting giddy over a possible deal, I have to agree that "we're not out of the woods yet." But for the first time since this President has taken office, I am confident that we are going to have the chance to really have this fight. And for the first time, I am confident that we are going to see an end to Don't Ask Don't Tell, a major step forward for the LGBT community.
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