Dr. Blackwell's BLOG

Monday, December 20, 2010

Democrats (and very few Republicans) Overturn DADT

Filed under: GLBT Social Issues and Civil Rights,Politics — Dr. Christopher Blackwell @ 00:52

A disgraceful and discriminatory chapter in American history came to a close Saturday afternoon as civil rights took a major step forward. The United States Senate voted to repeal the Military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, Don’t Pursue” Policy, which prohibited gay men and women in uniform from serving openly. The vote was largely among party lines as all but one Democrat and only 8 Republicans voted in favor of repeal. Florida’s Senators Nelson (D) voted yay while Republican LaMieux voted nay. President Obama pledged to end the ban on the campaign trail and sided with top military officials who overwhelmingly took the position that the ban was damaging military readiness. Republicans used fear-mongering to stall the repeal, spewing data that were not based in fact but instead based in bias. Nonetheless, their efforts, spear-headed by John McCain (R-Arizona) failed.
Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell was a policy passed by President Bill Clinton during his first term. Prior to the policy, gay men and lesbians who acknowledged their sexuality were deemed ineligible to serve. Clinton fought hard against Republican-lead opposition and Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell was made policy out of compromise. Gays and lesbians could serve, but only if their sexual orientation remained hidden. Tens of thousands of well-qualified personnel were discharged under the policy, which came under increasing scrutiny between 2004-2005, when a group of gay Arabic linguists were discharged under the policy. A subsequent report indicated a critical shortage of Arabic linguists needed to interpret intelligence and suggested the discharges posed a major threat to national security. After taking Office, President Obama charged Congress with repealing the ban. A comprehensive study conducted this Summer by the Pentagon found the vast majority of America’s troops didn’t think repealing the ban would cause a major disruption. They also indicated most knew of gay soldiers within their unit and that sexuality had no impact on how they interacted with comrades.

This historic victory was a LONG-WAY coming! God knows this vote could NEVER have happened with the slew of incoming Republican Congressmen and Senators. 
So, THANK-YOU to the Democrats (and the 8 Republicans) who voted to repeal DADT! No serviceman or woman willing to sacrifice his or her life for our country should ever have to fear losing his or her military career due to sexual orientation. It is time to put inequality and discrimination in our Armed Forces behind us. God bless our troops.

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