The White House has pulled quite a bait and switch on the LGBT community.
LGBT voters came out and contributed en masse to Barack Obama's campaign. A year ago, he promised them action on, among other things, repeal of the military's discrimination policy, Don't ask Don't Tell. This May it seemed as if they'd won. To much ballyhoo, on the eve of a war appropriation vote, the White House announced what sounded like repeal.
Now half the LGBT community thinks Don't Ask Don't Tell is already repealed, Miriam Perez of Feministing told GRITtv recently.
Except what the President actually announced wasn't repeal. It was a compromise that opened the way for a vote on repeal if a Pentagon working group, the President, the Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs all approved such a thing.
Now it turns out that 400,000 service members are going to have their say as well.
As the jobless go with nothing and school libraries are shut up tight for lack of cash, we the taxpayers have, it turns out, paid a research firm some $4.4 million to send an email-survey to 400,000 troops.
Leaked copies include the following questions: "If a wartime situation made it necessary for you to share a room, berth or field tent with someone you believe to be a gay or lesbian service member, what are you likely to do?" (The survey offers options.) "If Don't Ask Don't Tell is repealed and you are assigned to bathroom facilities with open bay showers with a gay or lesbian service member, would you: Take no action? Use shower at different time?"
There's also a question asking service members, if a gay or lesbian member moved into military housing with a same-sex partner, would they pick up their family and move out.
There's no question about how troops feel about serving under Don't Ask Don't Tell (of course.)
And -- no question, this is a first. No one surveyed the troops when it was time to desegregate. No one surveyed male soldiers about allowing women in. When it came to school desegregation, the Supreme Court didn't survey white kids. In fact it's impossible to imagine such a thing.
About as impossible as imagining that LGBT campaign contributors will be doling out much cash to Democratic candidates this fall.
The F Word is a regular commentary by Laura Flanders, the host of GRITtv which broadcasts weekdays on satellite TV (Dish Network Ch. 9415 Free Speech TV) on cable, and online at GRITtv.org and TheNation.com. Support us by signing up for our podcast, and follow GRITtv or GRITlaura on Twitter.com.