Alex Blaze

Congress moves on DADT

Filed By Alex Blaze | July 15, 2009 2:00 PM | comments

Filed in: The Movement
Tags: Don't Ask Don't Tell, gays in the military, Harry Reid, Kirsten Gillibrand, military, open, out, Patrick Murphy, transgender

There has been lots of motion these past two weeks on repealing DADT, more than any other LGBT bills other than hate crimes legislation and possibly ENDA, as there are people currently working on repeal in both the House and the Senate.

While a few gay people are getting upset that the Obama Administration isn't moving faster on this one (as if the President sits down and writes all the laws and then signs them into law, like a dictator), Congress has been the one who has waited too long and appears to be making up for that time.

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) introduced an amendment to the DOD reauthorization bill to suspend DADT discharges for 18 months, which is the same bill that Patrick Leahy wants to attach hate crimes legislation to. Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) said he supports the bill yesterday, and that he wants to make the suspension permanent. And Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-PA) has nominated himself point-man for lifting the ban. The Stonewall Democrats have put together a thank you page and an Act Blue page to support his efforts.

In other words, it's looking like there are people in Congress trying to get this one done. It's unlikely that they'd suspend those discharges only to go back to DADT in 18 months, and the popularity of repeal is high enough that they ought to be able to get it done without much outside interference.

Anyway, as usual, there's a part of the gay community that's getting distracted by an Anderson Cooper video:

I don't really see what's all that shocking in this interview. First, Obama's not in charge of writing the law to repeal DADT, and Congress has its own interest in getting rid of DADT and is already taking actions towards repeal. Have there been any signs that he won't sign language to repeal if it's presented to him? Second, as Chris Geidner points out, there's nothing new in this interview. Third, as others have posted again and again and again on this site, repeal isn't enough for LGBT servicemembers. If it is simply repealed, then the pre-1993 complete ban on their participation in the military will take effect, as well as discriminatory practices that will serve to further keep LGBT people down and outside of the military. Repeal isn't enough; a new policy will have to take DADT's place for this to be a win for LGBT people. Fourth, as much as these folks pride themselves in reading tea leaves, if he's saying that a priority is getting policy to work for "the outstanding gay and lesbian soldiers that are both currently enlisted or would like to enlist," that seems like he's at least on the right page. I'd much rather have him talk about the LGBT gay and lesbian soldiers (c'mon, Obama) valid personal interests instead of what they can do for the US military.

In other words, I'd wait for substantive policy statements from the White House or for Obama's actions instead of trying to parse an interview with a closet case on CNN. It seems like, at most, a distraction from the people who'll actually be writing the repeal legislation.

Overall, there seems to be motion forward on this issue. And there are leaders appearing in Congress, which will take the heat off the usual suspects to push for this legislation.


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"Third, as others have posted again and again and again on this site, repeal isn't enough for LGBT servicemembers"

Last I checked, that's actually LGB servicemembers. T folks get thrown out as crazy loons who have no place in the service, and DADT's repulsion will not affect that stance one bit. I do wish that people would make that distinction when discussing this topic.

In fact, I make a point to mention my lack of interest for DADT whenever LGBT issues come up. My reasoning? "It only works for 75% of the acronym. Why _would_ I care?" Hate crimes? Sure. ENDA? I'd love some. But DADT has been -- and always will be -- an LGB issue.

(Who realizes this is a nit-pick, but felt it necessary to make her distaste over DADT / military service activism within the community known.)

Well, that's why I said that DADT repeal isn't enough - other policies have to be changed. Actually, most of what I know about transgender servicemembers has come from Monica Helms, who posted about it on Bilerico here:

http://www.bilerico.com/2008/08/the_history_of_sldn_and_transgender_serv.php

and here:

http://www.bilerico.com/2009/03/men_in_dresses_in_the_military_i_dont_th.php

Alex: When you make statements such as:

"as if the President sits down and writes all the laws and then signs them into law, like a dictator"

You're missing a key point that makes your sarcasm ineffective. Obama can sign an Executive Order suspending the discharges of productive members of the military until a legislative review of the process can be completed.

I've posted the link to my blog post regarding that on here several times and it's been pointed out by the MSM frequently.

Austin: Laws regarding gays don't have to be all inclusive to be supported by all of us. Each and every progression towards equality should be applauded.

To quote, again, my corny phrase:

It's not about LGBT, it's about Equality!

There is disagreement on whether he could write an executive order like that, and honestly it was rather annoying to see congress send him that letter telling him to do that. Talk about passing the buck! If they can write a letter telling him to suspend DADT discharges, they can write a law ending the practice.

More importantly, my comment wasn't about interim suspension of discharges, but about the permanent solution. Considering the way and the amount people talk about DADT as if Obama's every prepositional phrase were going to end up written in stone and become the law of the land, it is almost as if they're ignoring the fact that there's the little matter of the first article of the Constitution that has to be dealt with first.

It's not about LGBT, it's about Equality!

I don't know about you, but to me the LGBT movement had better be about improving LGBT people's lives instead of an undefinable concept like "equality." And Austin does bring up a good point in discussing transgender servicemembers. It's easy to dismiss people who aren't like you or who face problems that you may never face, but if everyone did that then we'd never get anywhere.

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | July 16, 2009 4:52 AM

Equality is a great place to start in improving lives. The Declaration of Independence stated that the primary concerns were "Life, Liberty and the pursuit of happiness."

Happiness was never a guarantee. Even with all being legally equal we will still have to overcome ignorance and prejudice step by step. Assuming "perfection" happens many will still not be contented that their lot has been improved.

"It's easy to dismiss people who aren't like you or who face problems that you may never face, but if everyone did that then we'd never get anywhere."

Why are you putting words in my mouth? Where did I say I was dismissing the problems of the transgendered? In or out of the military?

What "problems you may never face" apply to me, Alex?

When I was 17 years old, a drag queen by the name of Billie Boots took me under her wing in Macon, Ga. I saw shit back then you can only dream of...I saw hate and prejudice that would floor you.

I have transgendered friends whom I support and love. I love and support everyone who's LGBT, whether or not I've dressed in drag, wanted to be a woman physically, or had bisexual experiences.

I'm 52 years old, Alex. Probably a lot older than you. I grew up in a military family with a homophobic Colonel for a father who felt it necessary to beat me daily for my gayness and forced me to join the military instead of taking a full four year scholarship to college.

I made the best of it. I excelled at my job, was chosen as Base NCO of the Year, was nominated for Command-Wide NCO of the Year, and garnered recognition for my service.

My last five years in the military, I was chosen to be the NCOIC of Administrative Separations at Eglin AFB, Florida. My job? To process discharges of young airmen and women and officers being kicked out of the Air Force for being nothing but GAY. People who, like me, performed their duties in an exceptional manner.

I support the repeal of DADT (and please, show me a link stating "disagreement on whether he could write an executive order like that") because it is merely another step into the recognition of all of us, whether we're GLB or T, as more than the second-class citizens we are now.

And that's where the equality comes in. We've come so far since those days in Macon, Georgia when drag queens were forced to change clothes before they went out in public or face a night in jail, when bisexual men were forced to live their lives as a lie and hang out at truck stops, when the transgendered had no hope and felt they were trapped somewhere they didn't want to be.

We've come so far only to have factions of our community set their myopic sights on one singular goal as far as the collective goal.

If you've read my blog, you'd know I'm a huge fan of LOST.

"Live together, die alone."

Then I guess I don't really see what your point is with "It's not about LGBT, it's about Equality!" esp. to dismiss someone bringing up trans folks in the military, was all about. I'll also admit that I don't really understand the contours of the idea of "equality" is.

Anyway, about his ability to do the XO, Patrick Murphy thinks he doesn't have it:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Lsrn1Xp6qU

Obama wonders, in the video above. Generally the idea is that the president enforces the law, whether he agrees with it or not, but he and the White House and legal scholars are looking at ways around the law. But I don't see how that gets Congress of the hook.

As for my age, well, if you didn't want to read something from someone young, the photo up top was enough warning. I do notice that that only seems to get brought up in forums where people have an inkling about how old I am, almost as if it's the low hanging fruit in looking for a reason to dismiss what I'm saying.

Not that I have a problem with that. Go for it. If you don't want to read anything from a whippersnapper who disagrees with you, feel free to keep on scrolling.

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | July 16, 2009 5:13 AM

Yeah, besides Alex is at least fifty, he has just had a lot of work done! *grins*

Alex, a retired Navy commander is a good friend and retired Gay military are among the most impatient to see DADT altered by Presidential Order. They simply hate to think of a good person's life being followed by a dishonorable discharge. Howey was in an untenable position "doing his duty" and knowing that he was sending people out of the military in a fashion that would have barred them from many types of employment, colleges in many cases would even not allow entrance of students dismissed from the military dishonorably.

These service members remember that it was by Executive Order that the military was desegregated because it was the right thing to do and expect no less.

Rick Sours | July 16, 2009 6:00 PM

RE: "These service members remember that it was by Executive Order that the military was desegregated because it was the right thing to do and expect no less."

This is a very valid point.

"These service members remember that it was by Executive Order that the military was desegregated"

Um. Thanks, Robert. I'm not quite that old. :)

Alex,

Once again you're putting words in my mouth! I'm not being dismissive of anyone and haven't said I wouldn't read your posts because you're younger than me or I disagree with you. (Although your sentence structure could use a little tweaking.)

What I'm saying, and what Robert referred to, is that as we mature, our life experiences guide our words and actions.

Your singular drive to bring peace, happiness, and I guess, recognition, to the transgendered at the expense of others within our community is childish and selfish. As Robert said, "Even with all being legally equal we will still have to overcome ignorance and prejudice step by step."

And, again, when you bring up phrases like "low hanging fruit" you're showing your own inherent prejudices and ambivalent attitude towards your elders.

I can only hope I'm around twenty or thirty years from now when an older and much wiser you looks back at our conversation here and think..."Damn. That old guy with the hanging fruit was right."

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | July 17, 2009 3:33 AM

Howey, I am not that old either, but I did (do) study about presidents and their decisions before my birth. *grin* (Truman, his mafia contacts, the period after WWII, Black Studies relevant to it are fascinating) And don't worry about Alex, there is plenty of potential and certain accomplishments in his future.

I don't agree with all he writes, but damn I love his impatience!