Goodbye to a Bad Law

So you know that useless, ineffective, Carter-like President of ours? The one who hasn’t done anything useful with his first term? Well, I mean, aside from health care reform, student loan reform, bailing out GM, passing consumer protection law, ratcheting back the unwinable war on drugs, reducing troops in Iraq, ending torture and, oh, yes, killing bin Laden. You know, other than that stuff.

Well, here’s another thing he’s done: Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell is finally, after eighteen years, officially dead. About fucking time. I understand why Clinton signed off on the law and why he thought it was a reasonable compromise, but, well, it wasn’t. Not even slightly.

What’s going to be most interesting is to see what this does to the gay marriage debate. Now you can have soldiers entering into same sex marriages in those places where it’s legal, then finding themselves transferred to somewhere where it isn’t. That’s not going to be tenable and it won’t last long before the courts have to step in and overturn DOMA (speaking of things Clinton might have thought were acceptable at the time…). This will certainly help the gay marriage debate in the long run, and that makes me quite pleased.

But what makes me more pleased is that we’ve finally joined the civilized world on the issue of gays in the military. We can finally take our stand next to countries like just about all of NATO and Israel, as well as most of the rest of civilization.

And all of this from a feckless, do-nothing President.


An Early Christmas Present – UPDATED

So it goes… the Senate has finally voted to end debate and allow voting on a bill to repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. Finally.

This comes after John McCain stood before the Senate and basically said that allowing gays to serve openly would result in soldiers having their legs blown off. I don’t imagine that legs are what would be getting blown, but it’s good to see that Old Man Bitter hasn’t given up the fight yet. I hope everyone who is gay and voted for him back in November, particularly a friend of mine, feel suitably betrayed by this jackass.

Sadly the Senate did not move forward on the so-called DREAM Act, which would allow illegal aliens brought here as kids by their parents a chance to contribute and have their status normalized. The bill would have required them to serve in the military or go to college. It’s not a perfect bill (I think they should just be allowed to stay regardless of school or the military), but it’s better than what we have now. The Senate also has yet to move forward on START, for reasons that baffle me.

But still. We have progress on DADT. Finally.

*** UPDATE ***

The Senate will vote on a full repeal at 3pm EST today. Special congratulations and thanks to the Republicans who voted in favor of ending the debate: Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe of Maine, Scott Brown of Massachusetts, Mark Kirk of Illinois, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, and George Voinovich of Ohio.

*** UPDATE 2 ***

It’s done. Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, will be a thing of the past once Obama signs off on it.

About fucking time.

We Want it Gone

The Pentagon has admitted that letting gay troops serve openly won’t really be anything of a problem. Around the world, countries like Canada, the UK and Israel basically respond with, “Well, duh.” Well, except French-Canadians who said, “Quelle surprise. Les Americans c’est tres bete.” And the Israelis probably said… something in Hebrew. But you get the idea.

This follows the Secretary of Defense saying much the same thing and basically telling Congress that it’s time to stand up and change the policies before the courts changed them. Better to take it gradually, according to him, than to just let the courts toss it all at once.

First, I’m happy that they finally came forth and admitted that this won’t be a big issue. Second, and more importantly, it doesn’t really matter what the military thinks. Their job is to do what they are told by the civilian government. Even if 80% of the troops were against it, and I’m willing to bet it would’ve been close to that number had they been asked about integration back in 1947, it doesn’t matter. They will do what they are told regardless. And troops who have a major issue with it are welcome to leave (and I bet the vast majority won’t).

Frankly I’m unhappy about the idea of allowing Congress to take it slow and phase this in. I understand that they apparently think our military personnel are a bunch of pussies who can defeat the enemy but are terrified of butt sex, but fuck that. They should just say “in three months, bam, everyone can serve openly”. They won’t, of course, and the SecDef made it clear that part of why he wants them to act now is prevent the courts from forcing the issue.

Plus, of course, I can’t really figure out how they’d phase it in, mind you. I mean, what, soldiers whose last names begin from A – C can come out during the first two months, with D – F following the next two, and so on? That makes no real sense.

But at least this report is a step in the right direction. I’m sure certain Senators will continue to bitch and moan, like Old Man Bitter, but most will go along with it, and regardless, this will happen. There’s no way to stop it.

Obama’s Pointless Strategy

President Obama clearly means well when it comes to dealing with the gay community and putting an end to “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”. I believe he’s very sincere when he talks about wanting to put an end to it.

But sadly his methodology for putting an end to it is to wait for Congress to bring it about. As a result, the Obama administration is appealing a court ruling that overturned DADT, and at their request the 9th Circuit has issued a stay of the ruling.

This is a bad idea on several levels. First, Congress won’t be putting an end to this any time soon. With a majority of Democrats in Congress and the Senate we couldn’t end it this year. With a likely majority of Republicans in Congress next year, it sure as hell isn’t going to happen, since they won’t want to hand Obama a legislative “victory”.

Second, the idea that it’s best to let Congress overturn the ban, rather than the courts, perpetuates a belief that there’s only two branches of government that matter; the Legislative and Executive. It says that the Judicial branch, equal under our government, doesn’t matter and isn’t valid.

I really do believe Obama “gets it” on gay rights in general. Yes, he’s in favor of a “separate but equal” civil union policy rather than gay marriage, but otherwise he seems to be on our side. He even recorded a video as part of the “It Gets Better” campaign.

Change is going to happen and DADT will be repealed, likely by the end of Obama’s first term of office. Gay rights are improving around the country, complete with Florida deciding not to appeal a ruling against their laws on gay adoption. Even the Pentagon has now said that only five people will be empowered to remove someone from the service for being gay.

So we do have progress of a sort. I just really wish that Obama had let the courts do their job and put an end to this stupid practice.

A Gentle Reminder

A reminder to all those out there who seem to think the military gets to call the shots (as it were), on “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”. They don’t. Not unless we let them. The military is controlled by the civilians.

This reminder is required, I think, due to the recent court ruling that told the military they are barred from enforcing this immoral law until told otherwise. Defense Secretary Robert Gates appears to be extremely unhappy about this.

“I feel strongly this is an action that needs to be taken by the Congress and that it is an action that requires careful preparation, and a lot of training,” said Gates. “It has enormous consequences for our troops.”

Translation: “Whine, whine, we aren’t ready. We’re the best, greatest, most especial military in the world but we can’t handle t3h geys! You gotta give us another 50 years to get ready!”

They keep wanting to wait for some study that says the soldiers are ok with this big change before it happens. Well, you know what? I don’t care what the soldiers think. No one checked with them before integrating the services back in the 1940’s. Do you think if we’d waited until society was “ready” it would’ve happened any time before 1980? Of course not.

The administration has the option of just letting this ruling stand and not appealing it, but of course they’ll appeal. I wouldn’t mind so much if I thought there was any chance of Congress getting off their fat asses and changing the law themselves, but they won’t, so it’s up to the courts.

Either way, it’s a sign that change is coming no matter how much the military whines about it. I for one can’t wait.

Hooray for Argentina!

They’ve really come a long way down in Argentina since the dark days of Peron and his cronies. Now they’ve become the first country in South America to legalize gay marriage. This now means that in Canada, Argentina, Mexico City and five US states, gays can marry, plus a few locations elsewhere. Here’s a handy graph from Nate Silver.

The weird spike is caused by California legalizing and then unlegalizing it.

Anyhow, this is certainly wonderful progress! It’s not everything and it certainly isn’t enough, but for now it’s pretty damn great!

Oh, and for something less great, yet morbidly amusing, check this on the DADT policy.

Not Too Fast, Now!

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has asked Congress to slow down and not try to repeal “Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell” until the Pentagon is a little more prepared to figure out how to implement it.

Yes, no point in hurrying on civil rights. As Andrew Sullivan has often said, it’s the “fierce urgency of whenever”.

Since the Joint Chiefs, etc, can’t figure out how best to get rid of the policy, let me do it for them.

1. End the policy.

2. Prepare for a large number of gays not to come out despite the policy change due to the macho nature of the military.

3. Accept that life is probably going to continue largely unchanged.

4. Find something new to whine about.

This kind of delaying bullshit is nothing new and it needs to end. As Dave Ross once said in a great little song on this topic back in 1993, “We beat Saddam in half an hour/but we’re frightened of the showers!/It’ll take us twenty years to get prepared!”

It’s been almost twenty years now. If we wait for the military to be ready, it won’t ever happen. Congress calls the shots on this one, not the military. It’s a civilian run military, not the other way around. Congress needs to step up to the plate, eliminate the policy and let us move on from there.