Diane Silver

The Injustice and the Hope of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell"

Filed By Diane Silver | February 03, 2010 3:30 PM | comments

Filed in: Politics
Tags: Don't Ask Don't Tell, Mike Mullen

Retired Joint Chiefs Chairman Colin Powell has just joined the current chairman of the Joint Chiefs and another past chairman in calling for repeal of "don't ask, don't tell." Powell, by the way, did more than almost anyone else in 1993 to make certain that LGB people could not serve openly in the military.

Honestly, I never thought I'd live to see this day.

The strong pro-gay stances of Powell, current Chairman Mike Mullen and retired Chairman John Shalikashvili give me hope. Listening to Mullen unequivocally state his opposition to the ban -- and watching him do it in front of a Senate committee -- was soul stirring. Mullen stood up for all the gay soldiers he had served with, and he stood up for integrity. (What a concept!)

And yet, my hope only goes so far. Unjust discharges continue under DADT. Under the plan announced yesterday by Mullen and Defense Secretary Robert Gates, complete repeal of the policy cannot occur for at least a year, and possibly not for several years.

Gates also plans to take another 45 days to figure out how to modify enforcement of the policy to make it more "fair." While this kind of tinkering will help out some troops, it will do little to end the injustices of this policy. Honorable men and women will continue to be discharged under a policy that is on its way out. In the end, their only crime will have been to be discovered at the wrong time.

Delaying repeal may well be good politics. It may even be the only way to gain the buy-in from the military and the country that is needed to eliminate DADT. But a delaying repeal even a single day is immoral.


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Sorry, Diane. I know that this is the INTERPRETATION that most everybody is giving to Powell's statment, but he did NOT specifically, unequivocally say he supported "repeal" and there was nothing remotely in the statement of the man who has repeatedly said being gay is a choice that could remotely be interpreted as indicating he is suddenly "pro gay."

Revisit his exact words: "I fully support the new approach...."

Well, despite Gates and Mullen's "personal" opposition to DADT, that "new" approach is nothing but the "old approach" of "delay through 'study'."

That "approach" centers around the fact, as you noted, that gays will continue to be discharged today, tomorrow, next week, next month, and for a MINIMUM of the next year, some say two, and possibly longer.

More ominously, a careful reading of Gates' statement shows it loaded with lots of so-called "issues" that he absurdly insists need to be studied YET AGAIN which COULD result in a report.....just like that from the six-month "working group" that Clinton
tasked with coming up with an "implementation plan"...which claims they can't OFFICIALLY say, "end DADT." See Mullen's blog post today in which he's curiously chosen to rewrap his anti DADT statement yesterday in an extremely thick layer of Gates' excuses. He agrees Gates must ask, "what our young [military] men and women and their families want, what they deserve."

Well, what about what GAY military men and women and THEIR families want and DESERVE? If Mullen wants to be "pro gay," he needs to think more and try harder.

Gates consciously resurrected questions that he KNOWS the Rand study ordered by the Pentagon put to rest in 1993. He repeatedly worked the "engaged in two wars" excuse [which Mullen is parroting today], also hinted ominously about potential damage to "military families" [again, read STRAIGHT military families], imagined totally unnecessary and HOMOPHOBIC changes to the UCMJ, ludicrously called for a poll of troops to ask what THEY want AS IF the military is a democracy [you'll recall Sam Nunn played that loony tune like a pipe organ virtuoso to turn the ban into DADT], and inexplicably invited members of Congress to contribute to what is supposed to be a DOD report TO Congress.

We may eventually discover that Harold Ford has genuniely changed his homophobic spots but the reptilian Powell's much longer yet evergreen record of duplicity, including an attempt to totally rewrite history by telling Rachel Maddow last year that Clinton never asked him to change the ban policy, gives ample reason to believe that this is just another carefully worded play by him to clean up his place in history that includes selling the lie to the UN that Iraq had WMD thus leading to the deaths of, at minimumn, tens of thousands INCLUDING many gay servicemembers.

Sure, EXPLOIT his remarks, but don't believe them leading anyone to start taking up a collection to build Powell a statue.

Finally, with respect, we do NOT need "buy-in" from the military. As the Rand study, countless others, and Obama himself has said [despite his actions to the contrary], all we need is LEADERSHIP and, by that I mean, put the "command" in "COMMANDer-in-Chief" rather than, as David Mixner characterized it today, "killing us softly with their song."

No excuses! No delays!

I'm all about the tinkering, since it will help a few people.

I wonder why those of us on the outside of the military, who never plan on serving, care so much about this issue. I'm thinking the reason the "tinkering" was rejected with so much disdain in the queer blogosphere (and I'm specifically not referring to you, Diane, since the fact that you said that the tinkering would benefit people made be realize this) is because we don't really want DADT repealed to actually help the people currently in the military, but that we want it because it'll mean that they like us, they finally like us (they being conservatives).

I wouldn't expect repeal this year, but it's good that quite a few people have come out with both positive and ambivalent statements this past week (including Orrin Hatch). it'll help down the road.

"... because we don't really want DADT repealed to actually help the people currently in the military, but that we want it because it'll mean that they like us, they finally like us (they being conservatives)."

Alex, you might be correct, this might be the psychology for some in the GLBT movement, but it certainly doesn't fit me, nor do I think it is the majority mindset. For one thing, "they" (conservatives) still won't "like" us --- the persistence of religious brainwashing will guarantee that --- though they might be required to tolerate us and interact with us, and that in turn might change a few conservative minds. But 60 years of blacks serving in the military has not cured American society of racism, and I am not naive enough to think that GLBT soldiers in military units will cure America of its homophobia, either.

I'm not putting anyone down, but I do think that those among us who want to be "liked" by society still have some growing up to do. I mean, yes, I'd enjoy being "liked" but I've also made peace with the fact that it won't happen in my lifetime, and I still have a right to be who I am --- and if they don't "like" me then fuck'em.