September 21, 2011

DADT Repealed & Job Discrimination Allowed In 35 States

Military members shadow behind a rainbow flag.

After 18 years of discrimination and inequality, the anti-gay Bill Clinton era law “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” (DADT) was repealed. Lesbian and gay service members don’t have to hide in the shadows anymore.

Integrity, telling the truth, and using the correct pronouns, no longer has to be an exception - but can be the rule.

People forget that there are thousands of LGBT veterans who received dishonorable discharges because of the witch hunts in all branches of our military. It has been estimated that over 14,000 individuals were fired from their military jobs.

To all of the LGBT active-duty personnel, and those who have served - thank you for your service, you make our community and country proud. I remember, and will not forget, the thousands of victims who experienced the witch-hunts, and were fired from their jobs in the military. You deserve our heartfelt thanks for your service, and the government’s apology for institutional discrimination.

President Barack Obama handled this issue deftly and intelligently. Perhaps he might have been able to issue an Executive Order stopping some witch hunts and discharges, but I give him a hell of a lot of credit for taking the course of action he chose. By hewing to the wishes of the Congress, and signing a law passed by both houses, a Republican or extremist President can’t waltz into office and change the law with a stroke of his or her pen. In order to repeal this law, a bill will have to be introduced and passed by the House and Senate, and a new President can’t change this law just because they feel like it.

Mr. President - thank you for that. Secretary Robert Gates and Admiral Michael Mullen, your commitment to equality and doing what your predecessors failed to do, is awesome.

While we celebrate this important victory, we still have a lot of work to do and a long way to go. Remember - It’s legal in 29 states to fire someone from their job because they are lesbian, gay or bisexual. In 35 states you can be fired for being transgendered. The US Justice Department recently reported that LGBT bullying in schools is on the rise. This inequality isn’t happening in a foreign country, it’s happening here.

This is a GREAT first step. It’s finally illegal to fire someone for being LGBT in our military, but until the same rules apply to civilians, you might ask - but we still can’t tell, which only highlights the continuing need for federal legislation that extends equality to us all.

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