Wednesday, September 22, 2010

DADT: Where Do We Go From Here?

On Tuesday America witnessed a crushing blow for human dignity. On Tuesday the Senate blocked the National Defense Authorization Act, which would open discussion on the repeal of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell,” one of the military’s most shameful policies. Most of the senators who voted against the bill, including Senator John McCain, claim the rejection was in reaction to questionable political maneuvering by Democrats, not a reflection of their personal feelings regarding DADT. Is that supposed to make it okay? I’m sure the thousands of soldiers censoring their letters and emotions feel a lot better knowing it’s not actually because they’re gay.

The thing is, DADT makes no sense, and most of America realizes this. A recent CNN poll found that 78% of Americans, including 64% of Republicans, support the repeal of DADT, yet Republicans unanimously voted against it, as did two Democrats. Why? I don’t understand how any “political maneuvering” could be worth the loss in votes for Republicans. This is a tough primary season, and no one wants to alienate voters by standing on the wrong side of a civil-rights debate.

Senate Republicans defended themselves, arguing that Democrats are using the bill to tack on election-year issues, such as immigration reform. They also claim they were ‘deferring to the military,’ saying only the military should determine whether the repeal is safe for troop morale and security. Well it appears that these senators didn’t bother reading the Defense Authorization Act. The language of the act allows the repeal of DADT ONLY IF the military determines that the policy can be removed safely. The bill puts the entire question of repeal into the military’s hands.

Democrats aren’t blameless, and the President isn’t blameless. Obama, as Commander-in-Chief can, at any time, suspend discharges of soldiers dismissed under DADT until the military completes their survey, and yet he hasn’t. So shame on you, Washington, for once again letting bipartisan politics get in the way of civil rights, for using old prejudices to tramp on the people you serve. And wake up. The country doesn’t support you on this one, Senators John McCain, Scott Brown, Susan Collins, Richard Lugar. Wake up.

1 comment:

Bill said...

I'm actually mad at the Democrats for this one. They took an extremely popular piece of reform that should have easily passed through Congress and tried to use it to jam through less popular amendments. This is political gamesmanship.

If the Republicans are guilty of putting their party's goals ahead of the rights of our troops, so too are the Democrats.