William P. Homans by self
I received a General Discharge Under Honorable Conditions for having told my company CO I had missed a formation because I had been sleeping with one of my fellow GIs. I left Vietnam and the service on the same day, May 22, 1970, due to the dateline change. So I've got something to say about this matter of the Repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell.
Everyone can cheer all they want-- and had I been in Congress I would have voted for the repeal. But what people-- especially gay people, who are directly affected-- are clueless about is that the bringing of DADT Repeal to the floor FIRST (besides a bill stiffening hate-crime statutes-- was a debacle for the GLBT civil rights movement.
President Obama would have signed a stand-alone civil unions bill, which would have-- could have-- been written such that every major domestic, civilian right and benefit enjoyed by heterosexuals was included.
That Democratic Congress of 2009-2010 would have passed it, both Houses, and Obama would have signed it. THAT would have been historic, permanent GLBT civil rights legislation.
If we grant that a five percent estimate of the GLBT population of the US is conservative, 15 million people or so's civil rights would have been ensured, as the law of the land, and not left to the patchwork quilt of sometimes non-reciprocal or even conflicting state statutes.
I won't even go into a litany of the various rights we do not enjoy, but inheritance and bequeathal between same-sex partners, and the right to put your same-sex partner on your healthcare plan, are two that heterosexuals take for granted, but which are denied to gays and lesbians daily.
Instead, what happened is that the LGBT civil rights movement left their interests in the hands of Republicans. Insane, but here's why and how. The Log Cabin Republicans are a Washington-based gay organization that includes many career military men and women.
They made the high-profile White-House-fence protest, not representatives of all the gay community. The movement for gay rights was hijacked, and instead of legislation ensuring all civil rights to gay people, the LCRs made sure that this right to serve as out gays came to the floor first.
Something over 13,000 soldiers were discharged between 1993 and 2011 under provisions of DADT. Perhaps another 5 times that have served, or are serving, closeted, and therefore without incident. That's 78,000 people.
Thus, doing the math, the right to serve as openly gay actually benefitted something like .5 percent-- 1 out of 200 or so-- of the US LGBT population. Some victory.
The Log Cabin Republicans may actually be gay and lesbian. But judging by their list of endorsed candidates, they are Republican first, and gay somewhere way down the line.
It is an old political axiom: it is more important to control the agenda than to control the procedure. It was a brilliant, devilish, legally risk-free piece of Republican political strategy to get that 57-40 procedural vote, failure to achieve cloture, before the election.
Some people have commented that it was boneheaded DEMOCRATIC political strategy, but that doesn't fly. Republicans counted their votes and knew they had enough to hold off Repeal until after the election, and then place the onus on a bunch of lame-ducks.
Indeed, the fact that a lame-duck Democratic Congress passed this ONE RIGHT may stiffen the resolve of the Republican knuckle-draggers in Congress to not let any other GLBT civil-rights legislation pass, and protect DOMA at all costs.
There are Republican disinformationalists about, posing as homosexual-rights activists. Be aware that they will continue to say what a great victory DADT Repeal was, as over the rest of this administration, no more gay civil rights will be achieved.
They will also stoke the fires of discontent with Mr. Obama, by any means possible, within the gay community. It may seem insanely conflicted, but these gays actually want to elect people who would permanently deny them civil rights!