Wednesday, December 22, 2010

On the end of DADT

For me, Don't Ask, Don't Tell is a reminder that sometimes a compromise is compromising.

I wasn't paying much attention at the time, but as I remember it when this deal was struck during the Clinton administration, it was considered a step forward from an outright ban on gays in military service.

In retrospect, from my perspective, DADT proved itself to be oppressive, with gay servicemembers bearing the burden. Was anyone kicked out of the military for not asking? Because surely a lot of people were kicked out even when they didn't tell.

I wonder if one of the things to be learned from this is that a compromise is unacceptable when the burden of the compromise is unevenly shared. And I hope we can begin to see that "I think it's icky" (or "wrong" or "sinful") is a very different burden from "I will not be allowed to serve. I will lose my livelihood. My loved ones will not get the support your loved ones get."

And perhaps once and for all we can get past the tired "troop morale" trope that got trotted out for African Americans and women. It's time for that old saw to retire.

This morning on Twitter, Obit Mag said RIP DADT, with a link to a 2008 article about gay WWII vets. I thought about their stories as I listened to the President's speech this morning.

RIP, DADT. I understand why you were born. But you still lived too long.

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