Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Michael Mullen are presenting their plan to repeal or “phase out” DADT to the Senate Armed Services Committee.
Among the issues to be addressed by the group: whether gay soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines will face any restrictions on exhibiting their sexual orientation on the job; whether the Pentagon will be obligated to provide for their domestic partners; and whether straight military personnel could be compelled to share quarters with gays.
“I don’t think anyone is underestimating the seriousness of the issue, or the complexity of it,” said a senior military official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because Gates and Mullen had yet to testify.
DADT must be overturned immediately. As Wapo reports, gay rights groups are rightfully concerned that the military will dilly-dally on this process and end up taking longer and stalling.
Melissa Harris-Lacewell has an excellent piece up at the Nation about the necessity for DADT to be overturned, or else gays and lesbians are relegated to second class citizenship, comparing it to blacks that fought in both the Civil War and WWII.
Gay soldiers are part of this long history. Their open and unfettered participation in America’s armed services is a necessary part of the struggle for full inclusion in America. When gay men and lesbians can openly and proudly point to their sacrifices for our country then they can call upon our country for full first-class citizenship.
Let’s end DADT during Black History Month. President Obama’s presence in the White House was made possible by the broken bodies of black soldiers who believed and sacrificed for a country that shackled and segregated them. They willingly bled for this country and with that blood they bought for all of us a country where a black man could be president.
Today gay soldiers fight and die with the same hope. They too believe in America even though our country does not protect them in Civil Rights legislation, even though our country withholds marriage equality, even though our country is marred by anti-gay violence: still they believe. It is an astonishing kind of hope. It is the kind of inspiring hope that has made every great American success possible.
While I agree with her take on the political necessity and significance of overturning DADT I have to take issue with one idea that permeates through the piece which is that military service is the heart of citizenship and military service is key to our safety. On Friday I wrote about my conflicted feelings about advocating for policies that make the military a more just place, because of my belief in the inherent injustice of the military industrial complex. Yes, I agree, civil service is at the heart of citizenship, and I have nothing but respect, gratitude and admiration for the courage of soldiers, but I often fear that their commitment has been exploited.
Institutionally, the military and war have been marketed as necessary for our safety, yet we have fought unsafe wars at the risk of countless civilians worldwide. It has been a gross exploitation of the citizenship of young Americans in the service of greed and domination. Furthermore, looking at all the different ways that people claim citizenship and the way those that contribute to this nation and are denied citizenship, it doesn’t make me want to support the structures that define citizenship, but to change the way we define citizenship itself and reform the structures that define and control it.
Of course, the argument can be made that when policies like DADT are overturned, we are starting the process of this redefinition, but as Ann just said to me over IM it is important that we work for short-term inclusion to these institutions, while working towards the long-term reform and/or abolition of the very same institutions. I am not going to feel really good about short-term military reforms, until I feel good about our campaigns of military aggression. And from the way things are going, I don’t see that being any time soon.