(OKLAHOMA CITY) Are America's gay and lesbian service members better
off with DADT now on the way to the trash can of prejudice? Are gays
and lesbians in civilian life better off without DADT on the books?
I've been asking myself that question since the vote. Since I can't say
absolutely yes, it has to mean a qualified no.
I've never been in the armed forces nor do I ever want to be. I have no
experience to draw on in regard to living in a regimented structure or
abiding by a detailed chain of command. I know several gay men who are
veterans of military service and have been honorably discharged because
they wanted to do other things with their futures and not because of any
infraction of the military codes of acceptable behavior.
I can only conjecture that the open acceptance of gay/lesbian service
members should lay to rest, at least among those straights who are not
incontrovertibly flat-earth thinkers, the stereotype of a gay man or
woman as undependable, flighty, irresponsible, somehow second-rate
mentally and physically.
Remember, there have always been gay and lesbian citizens in the American military, acknowledged or not.
Though not all service members are in combat units, can anyone really
think that those gay men who have chosen to take the training that
reverses all normal civil behavior be unable to kill when required by
orders or mission? How can the stereotype of limp-wristed fruits hold
up against the evidence of deeds and the awarding of medals?
Indeed, that's why homo-acceptance is so worrisome to the
flat-earthers--when prejudice meets reality, they lose their footing and
slide on the suddenly made-round earth.
In the civilian mode of living, I also conjecture that the repeal of
DADT will also lead to the repeal of DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act) and
the passage of ENDA (Employment Non-Discrimination Act) for the same
reasons of prejudice meeting reality.
Dr. M.L. King is quoted as saying, "It may be true that the law cannot
make a man love me, but it can keep him from lynching me, and I think
that's pretty important."
I think this quote can apply to gays/lesbians in the American Armed
Forces and civilian life. Homo-hatred isn't erased by the passage of
laws any more than racism went extinct with the passage of the 1964
civil rights and 1965 voting rights acts or the 1954 Supreme Court
opinion of Brown v. Board of Education that integrated public schools.
Racism is in play right now to a degree, I think, unseen since the
mid-1950s to early 1960s. The racism-that-dare-not-speak-it's-name is
due to the election of a bi-racial man as president. The historian
Robert Graves wrote a novel of Roman empire days and he has the Emperor
Claudius saying at his death, a man supposed to have been progressive
for his era, "Let all the poisons that lurk in the mud hatch out,"
referring to the wars he expected would develop without his more
peaceful point-of-view to guide the politics of his time.
Even after the presidential signing of the bill the legal repeal of DADT
doesn't go into effect until the Pentagon and the president have
certified that procedures and policies have been implemented that allows
for the smooth transition of gay/lesbian openness in the military. And
then there is a 60-day "cooling-off period." Can this cooling-off
period be a resurgence of a phrase from another important civil rights
issue in the 1950s?
Even the integration decision of Brown in 1954 required a second opinion
in 1955 clarifying just how fast the implementation of the 1954
decision was to occur. The nine wise men in black wrote "with all
deliberate speed." (
click here )
It took eleven years for passage of the Matthew Shepard/James Byrd Hate
Crimes Act, named after two men who were killed in particularly heinous
ways (one because he was gay, the other because he was black) during
which time forty-one states passed anti-gay marriage amendments or
statutes. Only five states recognize our civil right to marry the
person of our choice, with two states facing possible reversal of our
equality: California and New Hampshire.
Perhaps the passage of time will bring our equality into focus even as
the passage of laws are used to delay "with all deliberate speed" the
recognition of our birthright of equality in America.