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Sgt Denny's Rant

MAD AS HELL

DADT Repeal Fails In Senate

by 
Denny Meyer

This publication has prided itself on being relatively calm, even handed, polite, and respectful in the optimistic hope of influencing our public officials to support the repeal of DADT by telling them the simple truth.  That's all down the toilet today; I'm mad as hell!

On Tuesday September 21st,  Harry Reid, the Democratic Senate Majority Leader, scheduled a Cloture vote to block a Republican filibuster which would prevent debate and a vote on the National Defense Authorization Act.  The NDAA included an amendment that would essentially repeal the Don't Ask Don't Tell law.  The Cloture failed to pass; meaning that debate and progressing to an actual vote on the Act was blocked.  And that means that legislative repeal of DADT is essentially dead in the current Congress, although it could be reconsidered in December.

There has been a lot of talk about procedural mumbo jumbo but it's all a bunch of bull.  The fact is that the right wing obstructionists want to win election by evoking raw prejudice against gays, African Americans, immigrants, and women's rights.  They talk about "taking America back."  What they want is to take America backward to a time of inequality and exploitation, to a time when people were denied basic human rights based on their race, religion, ethnic background, and sexual orientation.

The President and Democratic majority in Congress were swept into office on their direct promise of ending discrimination and moving forward instead of back to an earlier era of disenfranchisement.  And then what happened?  They got pragmatic and procedural and began pandering to the right in fear of not getting reelected.  The promises were postponed.  They were not elected to be able to campaign for reelection.  They were elected to "Do the Right Thing."

 It is not just the legislative repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell that was cynically shot down in the vote on September 21st.  There were several other important amendments to the National Defense Authorization Act that died that day.

The Dream Act, also included in the bill, would have allowed young immigrants, who were brought here illegally as children by their parents, to become citizens and serve in our military if they completed high school and met other requirements of good citizenship.  So, in addition to gay people being prevented from serving in our military, young illegal immigrants aren't allowed either; but American born criminals are eagerly recruited with waivers.  As I've noted here before, my mother was an illegal immigrant to America, escaping the Holocaust during WWII.  To pay my country back for my family's freedom, I voluntarily served in our armed forces for ten years, leaving as a Sgt. First Class.  So, there you are, horror of horrors, the homosexual child of an illegal immigrant serving proudly and honorably for a decade in America's military.

Also shot down in the vote was another amendment "under Title XVI: Improved Sexual Assault Prevention and Response in the Armed Forces. This portion of the NDAA included language concerning base transfers for survivors, options for legal counsel, improving military protective orders, and professionalizing Victim Advocates, all of which would ensure the DoD works towards improving the welfare of survivors of sexual assault. 'By failing to break the NDAA filibuster, the Senate effectively set back the equality, freedoms, and protections of all women serving in our armed forces,'" according to Anu Bhagwati, former Marine Corps Captain, as quoted by Service Women's Action Network.

So, with one mean-spirited vote, our nation's illustrious Senate has disallowed or discouraged patriotic homosexuals, immigrants, and women from volunteering to serve in our armed forces; brilliant.

So, what now, is the repeal of DADT dead?  Legislatively, perhaps.  But there have been several recent Federal District Court decisions strongly ruling against DADT and DADT discharges.  DADT was, in fact ruled unconstitutional.  As of this writing, an injunction against further discharges is pending in that case.  If the administration did nothing, did not appeal, then DADT would come to and end.  So, now the ball is literally in the President's court.  It's up to him to now keep his campaign promise, to keep his State of the Union address promise, of ending DADT "this year."  All he has to do is to NOT do something.  He has been urged to not appeal by many members of Congress, major newspapers, The Palm Center, and many others.  But, alas, the President and his Attorney General seem poised to appeal.  This is real life, gentlemen, it's not some Ivy League law school game of showing what an exceptionally clever law student you are.  It's time to do the right thing.

Obstructionist bigots and others are already shouting that this should be up to our legislature, not the courts.  Really?  American racial segregation was ended by our courts.  Our American system of government was founded on the principal of three equal branches of government to check and balance each other.  That has worked well so far, and is working well now.

So, ultimately, who should you vote for in November?  Vote for those who support our rights.  That rules out the obstructionist bigots despite the fantasy some have of making nice with them.

With the latest legislative defeat, many who have spent years working to end DADT are now discouraged enough to want to give up in disgust.  But, Danny Ingram, the President of American Veterans For Equal Rights, who was among the first to be discharged under DADT, is determined to battle on until the ban is lifted.  He reminds us all of our determination to serve, by quoting from General Order 1, among the first words we learned in basic training: "I will guard everything within the limits of my post; and quit my post only when properly relieved"

-Denny Meyer, Veteran

Contributing Editor: Andrea Egert

  2010 Gay Military Signal