Ding dong, DADT is almost dead! The discriminatory "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy that keeps gay, lesbian, and bisexual soldiers from serving their country openly in the military is finally in its last days. The 17-year-old law is set to end on Sept 20th, 2011. This is following the long road. of passage of the repeal bill, including July's certifications by President Obama, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen signifying that the military is ready for the end of the ban and the 60 day waiting period prescribed by congress in the bill.
But some Republicans aren't giving up without a bigoted last ditch effort to stop LGBT people from serving openly and honestly. Enter GOP congressmen Rep. Bud McKeon (R-CA) and Rep. Joe "You Lie" Wilson (R-SC), who have asked for a delay in the repeal, citing vague summaries of policy changes on benefits:
"The Department is not ready to implement the repeal because all the policies and regulations necessary for the transition are not yet final," the congressmen wrote in a letter dated Sept. 12. "We would ask that the senior military leaders' memoranda immediately be made public and transmitted to the Committee on Armed Services."
It was a request quickly shot down by the Pentagon, who said the Sept 20th date would stand:
"The repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell will occur, in accordance with the law and after a rigorous certification process, on September 20," the Pentagon spokesman said. "Senior Department of Defense officials have advised Congress of changes to regulations and policies associated with repeal. We take that obligation seriously."
So it looks like the discriminatory views of the old, bigoted dinosaurs left running things in the GOP have fallen on deaf ears and repeal will move forward.
The Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN) is also still asking for the president to issue an executive order prohibiting discrimination and harassment on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in the military, which would give servicemembers recourse against harassment after DADT is repealed.
There are also multiple celebrations set for September 20th around the country to commemorate the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell". Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN) released guidelines on the types of parties gays in uniform may attend under Pentagon policy:
"Service members must remember that it is important to continue to obey the other rules and regulations that govern their conduct," wrote David McKean, SLDN's legal director. "Many service members want to attend these celebrations, and some might want to speak at them. The extent and type of participation will depend on the nature of the event as defined under military rules."
Be sure to check out all of their guidelines and suggestions if you are an active duty military person.
This repeal, and the ability for gay and lesbian soldiers to serve their country openly, has been a long time coming. September 20th marks the closing of a sad, discriminatory chapter of the history of our country. But this isn't the end. The death of DADT gives forward momentum that the LGBT community and our allies can harness for even greater change and progress as we move forward on other battles for civil rights, like job discrimination protections and marriage equality.
The fight continues.