This week Lady Gaga joined Maineâs rally to send a message to the stateâs two moderate Republican senators, Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe, asking them to repeal âDonât ask, donât tell (DADT),â a critical vote in Congress this week.
But to no oneâs surprise Senate Republicans repealed it. Democrats needed only 60 votes to overcome a filibuster; the vote, however, was 56 to 43.
The question our lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) servicemembers should be asking is whether this weekâs vote was a sincere act on the Democratsâ part to repeal DADT.
Or was it merely pressure? Posturing? Or, both?
While I realize that the Obama administration is hoping to avoid the missteps of the Clinton administration when it tried to open military ranks to LGBTQ servicemembers, the Democrats knew that didnât have the 60 votes needed even if Republican senators, Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe, voted as Democrats had hoped.
And with midterm elections now six weeks away, and with both Republican and Democratic candidates revving up their campaigns, playing to their bases concerns about taxes and the economy, did Democrats really expect or want or even care what the outcome on DADT would be this week?
While this weekâs vote is another blow for the LGBTQ community concerning DADT, it makes the Democrats, albeit, in my opinion, disingenuous, look like they care about this issues.
While the LGBTQ community now waits for the Pentagon to completed its study by December 1, reviewing how to maintain the militaryâs âunit cohesionâ while integrating LGBTQ servicemembers, letâs not forget, that as long as DADT is active it gravely impacts recruitment, morale and unit cohesion because itâs okaying the firing of our LGBTQ servicemembers. And, to date, more than 13,500 LGBTQ servicemembers have been discharged under this discriminatory policy, and the number continues to grow.
âDoesnât it seem to be that âdonât ask, donât tellâ is backwards? âŠweâre penalizing the wrong soldierâŠ we gay soldiers, who harbor no hatred, no prejudice, no phobia, weâre sent home? I am here today because I would like to propose a new law; a law that sends home the soldier that has the problem. Our new law is called âif you donât like it, go home, â Lady Gaga stated at Maineâs rally.
Had Lady Gagaâs logic prevailed before the Senate vote our U.S. military today would be less likely to loss another willing and patriotic servicemember because of his or her sexual orientation.
But with attitudes like Tony Perkins, president of the Washington, D.C.-based Family Research Council (FRC), a conservative Christian organization promoting âtraditional family valuesâ DADT will continue to be a political pawn for anti-gay Christian conservatives who see this issue of LGBTQ in the military as a religious one and not as a civil rights issue.
âIf the Senate fast-tracks the process, it would short-circuit the militaryâs review of any potential fallout from the change. While the majority of the Joint Chiefs of Staff have made it clear that such an assessment is necessary, but part of the rush can be blamed on the November elections. The rest can be pinned on an angry homosexual base, whose groups like GetEQUAL have been filling Senate offices with fliers that say, âYouâre next! We demand âDonât Ask, Donât Tellâ be repealed now or you will become a target for non-violent direct action,â Perkins wrote on FRCâs blog.However, there are many LGBTQ servicemembers who believe these present anti-gay attitudes will change.
For example, Margarethe Cammermeyer a lesbian and former chief nurse for the Washington State National Guard, awardee of the Bronze Star for her service in Vietnam, and author of âServicing in Silenceâ is optimistic about the military. She believes that by 2027, the military will look very different, because sexual tension, sexual misconduct, and the treatment of LGBTQ servicemembers will be resolved. Cammermeyer also believes that âthe Uniform Code of Military Justice will be revised to reflect social mores and the reality of human sexuality. The result will be a pragmatic document that will preserve individual privacy, and consensual conduct will be considered a private matter.â
I commend Cammermeyer optimism, but 2027 is a long way off. The anti-gay attitudes of Republicans must be squelched, and the political posturing of Democrats supposedly acting on behalf of LGBTQ servicemembers must be called out. Studies have been done over and over, showing that LGBTQ servicemembers do NOT harm âunit cohesion.â Enough is enough! And itâs time for action.
And that action is for President Obama to issue an Executive Order on behalf on LGBTQ servicemembers.
President Franklin D. Roosevelt issued an executive order banning racial discrimination in defense industries and the government.
President Harry Truman issued Executive Order No. 9981 to provide full integration of African Americans in the armed services. And the executive order provided for âequality of treatment and opportunity in the armed forces without regard to race, color, religion, or national origin.â
The volleying back and forth on DADT can come to an end simply by Obama using his presidential pen and single-handedly signing an executive order.
That is, of course, if he really wants to.