Tuesday, September 21, 2010

'Don't ask; Don't tell' repeal?

Today is slated to be a significant day for homosexual equality as the Senate will debate whether to pass a defense authorization bill which will include a provision which would allow for the repeal of the discriminatory "Don't ask; Don't Tell" policy put in place by a Republican Congress and signed into law by President Bill Clinton.

Democrats have tied the repeal of "Don't Ask; Don't Tell" {as well as the DREAM Act} to the National Defense Authorization Act (FY 2011). Some Republicans and Democrats have suggested they would support a repeal of DADT once the Department of Defense has completed its study on the impact ending the policy would have on military preparedness and morale.

While I don't personally have a problem with waiting until December {when the Department of Defense study is set to be completed}, and while I don't generally approve of attaching controversial amendments to budgetary bills {as was also done with the enactment of the Matthew Shepard Act}, I'm also strongly in support of repealing DADT as soon as possible. What's more, it's really come to a critical point right now.

With the November elections all but certain to increase the number of Republicans in the Senate, it is likely that this attempt to repeal DADT by adding it as an amendment to an annual budgetary bill which rarely fails to pass, is the only chance of repeal in the foreseeable future and an end to this discriminatory policy. Contrary to the notion of many DADT opponents, President Obama does not have the authority to repeal the law — only an act of Congress can do this.

Of course, even with a majority of Democrats in the Senate, there is still a decent chance that the defense authorization bill will not pass. As usual, the GOP is opposing the repeal of DADT and already the issue is shaping up to be a political football, just as it was in 2004 when the GOP used constitutional amendments banning same-sex marriage in several states to help George W. Bush win re-election. The Republicans are yet again falling back on the same overused tactic of threatening a filibuster which they've been employing since they lost their majority, and most especially since Barack Obama became President.

Even as of this morning, with a vote taking place later today, through the efforts of flip-flopping Sen. John McCain, at this time it's still unknown if the pro-DADT crowd will get enough votes to keep the bill from reaching the 60-vote majority for passage. A few Democrats, like Sen. Ben Nelson and Sen. Jim Webb {a senator I had developed a lot of respect for ever since I read about his long-shot campaign back in 2006} are still unsure how they will vote, but they claim to prefer waiting until the DoD study is completed. Only time will tell now.

I'm really struck by the irony of it all, the same old Republicans who in times past have accused Democrats of 'undermining the war effort' or 'endangering the troops' for threatening not to vote for past defense authorization bills, and now to be engaging in the same behavior. I wonder if they will be called out on this, blasted for their more than obvious hypocrisy and demonized for their apparent "un-American" efforts to 'undermine our troops who are serving on the battlefield'. I doubt it. The Democrats are pretty pathetic when it comes to using the GOP's own tactics against them. And no one plays the jingoistic sympathy-card quite like those on the war-mongering side of the aisle.

For me, this all serves as yet another reminder to those intellectually dishonest fools who, with a serious face, ask why homosexuals tend to support Democrats over Republicans. As if any self-respecting homosexual would actually support the political party which, overall, continues to deny our civil rights in order to rile up the bigoted sensibilities of their base and thus win elections. It's stunts like this from Sen. McCain, et al. that will keep otherwise independent voters like myself voting almost exclusively for Democrats and opposing Republican candidates any chance I get.

Of course, some liberal-learning folks are ready to just give up on the Democrats, naively believing this will somehow teach them a lesson to be less centrist and more leftist in the future. It's a classic example of cut off your nose to spite your face. I think all of us, but especially those of us in the homosexual community have far too much at stake to be so recklessly militant. Unfortunately, a lot of people in our community have been down on President Obama and the Democrats for not doing more to advance our causes, and I too was hoping for more by now, but the undeniable reality is this President and Congressional majority has done more to advance homosexual equality than any President and Congress in U.S. history.

We are now closer to repealing DADT than at any time since it was disgracefully signed into law in 1993. I haven't forgotten or forgiven Bill Clinton for selling us out then. And if this doesn't pass, I'm going to remember those who voted to make that a reality in the upcoming election and for many, many more to come. I hope that everyone who supports the right of homosexuals to openly serve their country will do the same.

[update:]
National Defense Authorization bill of Fiscal Year 2011:

Alexander (R-TN)
Barrasso (R-WY)
Bennett (R-UT)
Bond (R-MO)
Brown (R-MA)
Brownback (R-KS)
Bunning (R-KY)
Burr (R-NC)
Chambliss (R-GA)
Coburn (R-OK)
Cochran (R-MS)
Collins (R-ME)
Corker (R-TN)
Cornyn (R-TX)
Crapo (R-ID)
DeMint (R-SC)
Ensign (R-NV)
Enzi (R-WY)
Graham (R-SC)
Grassley (R-IA)
Gregg (R-NH)
Hatch (R-UT)
Hutchison (R-TX)
Inhofe (R-OK)
Isakson (R-GA)
Johanns (R-NE)
Kyl (R-AZ)
LeMieux (R-FL)
Lincoln (D-AR)
Lugar (R-IN)
McCain (R-AZ)
McConnell (R-KY)
Pryor (D-AR)
Reid (D-NV)
Risch (R-ID)
Roberts (R-KS)
Sessions (R-AL)
Shelby (R-AL)
Snowe (R-ME)
Thune (R-SD)
Vitter (R-LA)
Voinovich (R-OH)
Wicker (R-MS)

I took notice that even some of the "moderates" among the Republicans, like the Senators from Maine, voted against cloture. And cheap excuses {and lies} abound as to the reasons why. They're just like the rest of the Republicans, playing to the bigoted faction of their base.

I hope everyone who supports protecting the civil rights of homosexuals & same-sex couples will keep this list in mind for future elections. I'm definitely going to vote accordingly, though, not much of a change for me as the slimeball Sen. Roy "Howdy Doody" Blunt would never have received my vote for anything, anyway... And as his radio commercials are so quick to point out, the Democrat running against him in the upcoming election, Robin Carnahan, "voted against protecting traditional marriage".

At least now I know Sen. McCaskill is still worth supporting in the future, as well. Two other Democrats, Lincoln and Pryor of Arkansas, will hopefully have a very short congressional future ahead of them.

{I should add that Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) also voted no—and he was the one who was pushing to get this bill brought to debate and passage—but he did this so that the bill could be brought to a vote at a later time, all part of parliamentary rules in his circumstance.}

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