Wednesday, October 26, 2011

DADT and memory loss

I've just run across a campaign ad, in which one of the "great accomplishments" of the candidate was the repeal of  Don't Ask Don't Tell.

Does nobody else remember precisely why Don't Ask Don't Tell was enacted?  I mean, after all the celebration at the administration's having finally crushed it, shouldn't somebody ask why all the dancing in the streets?

DADT was created during the Clinton years as a protection for gays who wanted to serve in our military.  Until then, a serviceman/woman accused of being homosexual -- not even acting upon desires, but merely having the desires alone -- could get a dishonorable discharge.  DADT was drafted into law to protect soldiers/sailors/marines, etc., from getting the boot based on what amounted to hearsay.  As long as nobody did anything, nobody had a right to ask what your preferences were.    You were expected to leave your naughty ideas at home in bed -- as long as you were on active duty, the uniform stayed on and stayed unstained.

In other words, before DADT, if you were suspected in the off-duty act of merely flirting with a same-sex somebody, you were promptly made a civilian, with no pension or other benefits.  Once Congress passed DADT, as a gay in uniform, you had to be actively in-your-face queer to get drummed out... they couldn't just drop you because you batted your eyes and sighed over that same-sex somebody.  If your preferences and habits were discreet, as most military (and other) relationships should be, Don't Ask Don't Tell protected you.  It didn't "force people to live a lie."  In fact, it allowed for being in active service while having a different outlook on interpersonal relationships, and protected you for it all.   DADT merely sustained the notion that there should be consequences if you were careless about your bedtime habits.

Granted, we have come upon an age when being gay in civilian life is less physically, politically, and socially dangerous than it was fifty years ago.  For that, I can see just cause for celebration.  And, personally, I'm glad that the military no longer sees the need for special protections for gays who serve our nation.  After all, some of those nearest and dearest to me either are gay or have loved ones who are so.  I want to live to see the day when nobody needs to be a protected class of people.

I'd dance for that.

But, as long as people misinterpret the past and celebrate the demise of "the oppressive DADT Act," and other such revisionism, I'm not shopping for ballroom slippers.

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