Tag Archives: gays in the military

Ask and tell, and do it proudly

Dare I say it? Dare I even think it?

Hell yes! The Senate has voted to repeal Don’t ask don’t tell.

Here’s what I was thinking early this morning when it finally seemed possible.

My congressional correspondent phoned in to update the story on the “don’t ask don’t tell” debate — the debate over repealing the military’s repulsive policy requiring gay men and lesbians to lie if they want to serve their country in one of the armed services.

The update? Four Republican senators — who had previously said they would vote to repeal only if the Senate passed a spending bill to keep the government running — now say they will vote to repeal no matter what happens with the spending bill.

The House and the Senate, of course, passed a continuing resolution to fund the government through Tuesday — the funds would have dried up Saturday otherwise. But Olympia Snowe, Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski and Scott Brown — yes, the C0smo senator — have all committed to vote yes on the repeal.

And Joe Lieberman, the Democrat-turned-Independent senator who usually acts like a Republican except, inexplicably, on this issue — says he thinks he has a couple more “yes” votes from the Republican side.

But just those four are enough to invoke cloture.

See, my colleagues often shorthand voting in the Senate to say that the Senate requires 60 votes to pass a bill, but that’s not true. It requires 60 votes to end debate and vote. But the Senate still only requires a simple majority to actually pass the bill.

The Party of No, of course, has determined that they will stop Democratic measures any way they can, and that, ironically includes refusing to allow debate to end and a straight up or down vote to take place. Ironically, because just a few years ago the Republicans howled like mad men if Democrats tried that trick.

But anyway — can it possibly be true that sometime on Saturday, 60 senators will vote yes to cloture — setting up the repeal vote that will almost certainly pass?

Dare I say it? Dare I even think it? Are we really on the verge of the first gay-positive civil rights vote in years?

Republicans seem to see the writing on the wall, so they’re doing what comes natural to them — they’re threatening to screw up something else to keep Congress from doing the right thing. In particular, Sen. Bob Corker (go ahead, make any joke about his name you want) is threatening to fuck up the START vote, which quite a number of Republicans are trying to mess with anyway.

Years ago, in my other life as a journalist with the lesbian and gay press, I covered this debate when it first crashed down on us. Bill Clinton made a move to end the military’s policy of not allowing gay men and lesbians to serve at all and ended up enshrining what was already going on — that gay men and lesbians served in silence — in the code of law.

So many protests, rallies. Gay veterans proudly wearing their colors. To no avail. Sam Nunn, the supposedly Democratic senator from Georgia who headed the Senate’s Armed Services Committee, would have none of it. “Don’t ask don’t tell” — and it’s rarely mentioned and rarely enforced third part, “don’t pursue” — was the law of the land, and the gay illuminati turned their attention to marriage.

And now … and now … In a few hours, the Senate will take that cloture vote. Is it possible that for once in their sorry lives, the Democrats won’t cave to Republican bullying and do what they should have done years ago? Is it possible that by this time next week, “don’t ask don’t tell” will be confined to the proverbial dustbin of history?

It’s hard to fathom. It’s hard to believe. And Lieberman, the sponsor of the bill in the Senate (it’s already passed the House), is being “cautiously optimistic,” that favorite phrase of my colleagues when they don’t want to say for sure what’s going on.

I’m very optimistic at this point. But we know it ain’t over til it’s over and until all the votes are counted.

Meghan McCain said her daddy would filibuster this bill. John “Mean Old Man” McCain just can’t bear the idea of faggots and dykes in his military, never mind that we’ve been there for centuries. “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” he said about the policy.

Well, John, it is broke. Gay men and lesbians are forced to lie to serve their country. That’s about as broke as it can get. And John, enough of your fellow Republicans disagree with you that your filibuster will amount to nothing.

I hope. I sure as hell hope. It’s about goddamn time.

The homophobia that has kept this policy in place is what’s out of place. And if this really does come to pass, it’ll be a stark reminder to the regressive Republicans that progress happens, whether they like it or not. All they can really do is make it harder.

Our full and complete civil rights — and this is one huge step toward that — are non-negotiable. We’ve come too far now. There is no putting that genie back in the bottle.

But is it really going to happen now? Dare I think it? Dare I even say it?

The only people saying no are a bunch of homophobic politicians and a marine commandant.

Yes. Yes, I think. This time, the answer is yes.

Disgusted

Dammit to hell.

I’m driving home from work a night or two ago, and as the miles tick by, I’m composing, in my head of course, a most perfect post. It’s my first in a while — I’ve just been too busy to write, and too tired, from all the news that has swamped my team in recent weeks. I’m sure you know what all that is, so I won’t reiterate it here.

It’s a damn good post, and I am excited about it. But once I arrive on the homefront, the 45 things I need to do before I can take some time for myself get in the way, and by the time I’m done, I really am too damn tired to write.

Curse me for not dictating it while I was driving, because now I’ve forgotten the whole thing. Except for the first word.

Feh.

It’s a word I use most often to indict my utter disgust at something. And that’s just not very helpful — I’m pretty damn disgusted right now, and nothing is standing out as the thing that disgusted me enough that night to want to write it all out.

It could be anything. My colleagues, for example, did a good job of disgusting me last week with their handling of Helen Thomas’s unfortunate choice of words and her subsequent and sudden retirement. “Get the hell out of the Middle East” just isn’t a very wise thing to say to Israel, although I can certainly understand the sentiment. But my god, you’d have thought my colleagues had heard her add “and throw them into the ovens” at the end. They reminded me of nothing so much as Donald Sutherland in “Invasion of the Body Snatchers,” hissing at pointing at those who aren’t like them.

Even the liberals. But then, they had no choice. Daring to criticize the Israelis is suicide in this country. If they hadn’t en masse joined in the hissing and pointing, they’d have been the ones hissed and pointed at, labeled anti-Semites no better than the Nazis.

See, in this country, calling someone a Nazi is OK, unless, of course, he or she really is one.

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
Back in Black – Glenn Beck’s Nazi Tourette’s
www.thedailyshow.com
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Take Glenn Beck, for example, who disgusts me pretty much every time he opens his mouth. He has a long history of labeling people he doesn’t agree with Nazis and fascists, right up until he promotes an actual fascist Nazi-sympathizer on his show, which apparently as AOK at Faux News.

I’m pretty sure my disgust wasn’t triggered by Yuma, Arizona, Mayor Al Krieger, because I just found out about him tonight. But it coulda been. Al, back on Memorial Day, delivered a speech praising the U.S. military for things like the invasion of Normandy, and then said

I cannot believe that a bunch of lacy-drawered, limp-wristed people could do what those men have done in the past.

He later defended those remarks, saying he was pretty sure that George Washington and Abraham Lincoln woulda said the same thing. And that his remarks came from the heart.

No, Al, they didn’t. They came from pure, unmitigated ignorance. Nobody asked Al if he really believed that no gay soldiers stormed the beach that day in France, or, as certainly happened, whether any lost their lives there defending their country. And nobody, of course, followed up with “Are you really that stupid?”

Apparently, he is. At least the religionists have something of an excuse for their ridiculous bigotry. Ignorance is never an excuse. It’s just ignorance. And, like most conservative ignorance like this, it’s willful.

Then there’s the fucking oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. Any part of that might have been what triggered my disgust — John Boehner insisting that the taxpayers should pay for the clean-up, BP’s utter incompetence, Obama’s pansy-assed response, Bobby Jindal, CNN’s inability to talk with anybody about the disaster except Billy Nungesser, James Carville and Mary Matalin, oiled birds, the ever-increasing flow estimates, British politicians whining that we Yanks are being mean to BP, Michael Bloomberg saying it’s not BP executives fault. Oh wait, that last one was just today.

How about Democrats voting with Alaska’s Lisa Mikulski to strip the Environmental Protection Agency of its ability to regulate greenhouse gases because, apparently, the highly politicized, partisan Congress without a scientist among them could do it better? Thankfully, that vote failed. For now.

Yeah, that’s pretty disgusting. But so is the unemployment rate. And the lack of prospects to see it drop anytime soon. And Congress’ (and the administration’s) complete unwillingness to do anything about it. Instead, our elected officials and their appointed advisers would rather fret over the non-issue of the deficit.

People, the deficit don’t mean shit. Most of the money we owe we owe to ourselves. Nothing but some serious deficit spending is going to get people back to work. And if we don’t get people back to work soon, the deficit isn’t going to matter at all, under any circumstances. It’s a bullshit issue, and there again are my colleagues, playing politics like the politicians.

But unemployment doesn’t affect the rich. In fact, they’re happy about it because their labor costs are down and they can pocket more money. What is gonna happen, and real soon if something doesn’t give, is that we’re going to be plunged back into the late 19th century, with a permanent underclass that can’t find work. The Victorian era. Robber barons. Rampant disease. Good times. Can’t wait.

Anything could have triggered my disgust that night. I just can’t remember what it was. Guess it doesn’t really matter, though. I’ve probably become a member of the new permanently disgusted class.

Feh.