That’s one small step for the Pentagon, one giant leap for the U.S.A.

Today is the first day without the “don’t ask don’t tell” policy, which since its  implementation in 1993 forced more than 13,000 gay Americans out of the armed forces and multiple tens of thousands more to hide their homosexuality to keep from being discharged.  In a direct, businesslike, very Pentagon kind of way, after certifying to Congress and the president that the change will not impact military readiness or unit cohesion, and after training more than two million troops about what is now expected from them, the rule simply ceased to be.  No longer do the regs support the immediate discharge of any American soldier, sailor or Marine solely over the gender of the people for whom they have sexual and/or romantic feelings.

Congratulations, America: today we took one step closer to living up to our professed ideals of justice, equality and fairness in a tolerant, secular society.

Previously on this subject:

Dear John McCain,

Jon Stewart’s pre-shaming wasn’t enough, so—shame on you, John McCain; for shame.  When it came to affirming the civil rights of homosexual Americans by supporting repeal of “don’t ask don’t tell,” you did exactly what you said you would not do

Dammit, it’s not a question of who soldiers are “comfortable serving with” if enforcing that prejudice denies the civil rights of other Americans.  Please tell me you wouldn’t make the same argument for white racists who are “not comfortable” serving with blacks?

This, added to your craven pandering to the worst elements of the body politic in your 2008 and 2010 campaigns, and your well-earned reputation as a man of honor, a man of truth, has at last and forever dissolved into the ether.  Although I haven’t agreed with you on every issue I trusted in your judgment and your integrity; now I can’t.  You’ve become “just another politician.”  How depressing.

Tear down this wall

This was supposed to be the last obstacle, right?  This report was to be the last gasp for members of Congress who imagine themselves, in Buckley’s phrase, standing athwart history yelling Stop, at the unstoppable sunrise of civil liberties for homosexuals in America.  Well, now it’s here; let’s see what they do.

Today the Department of Defense released its own report on the anticipated impact to military readiness if Congress were to repeal the hideously-christened “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law, which prohibits homosexual Americans from being honest about their sexuality if they want to serve their country in the armed forces.  DOD found that, by and large, there’s no problem—you can read the reports from the major outlets:  New York Times, Associated Press, Fox News.

The House of Representatives already voted to repeal the law; some in the Senate resisted, wanting to give the Pentagon a chance to determine if changing the law would weaken our national defense.  To those senators who were betting that, surely, the men and women in uniform would object vehemently to gay men and women serving openly, and thereby provide needed political cover to affirm the ban—shame on you for thinking so little of American soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen.

The former maverick John McCain was perhaps most prominent about yielding to the military leadership on this question; a couple of weeks ago Jon Stewart bothered to remember what McCain had promised. (click the pic)

imageThe Pentagon report concedes that a world without DADT might experience growing pains, but it assures Congress that some brief discomfort is no reason to wait.  Logically, then, there’s no valid reason not to repeal the law, and any objection that the change should be delayed until it’s not so hard to implement should be answered with a reminder that the same argument was floated when President Truman ordered desegregation of the military.

Yes, this is a civil rights issue; I’ve made my case here before.  There’s no stopping it—the change is coming—and if some lame duck members of Congress who aren’t worried about re-election any more make the difference in changing this law, so be it.