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Better off with ‘Don't ask, don't tell’ repeal?


James Nimmo January 18th, 2011

Are America’s gay and lesbian service members better off with DADT now on the way to the trash can of prejudice? Are gays and lesbians in civilian life better off without DADT on the books?

Regarding Brendan Hoover’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” story (News, “Ask, tell,” Jan. 5, 2011, Gazette):

Are America’s gay and lesbian service members better off with DADT now on the way to the trash can of prejudice? Are gays and lesbians in civilian life better off without DADT on the books?

I’ve been asking myself that question. Since I can’t say absolutely “yes,” it has to mean a qualified “no.”

I know several gay men who are veterans of military service and honorably discharged because they wanted to do other things with their futures and not because of any infraction of the military codes of acceptable behavior.

There have always been gay and lesbian citizens in the American military, acknowledged or not, and DADT repeal should lay to rest, except among the incontrovertibly flat-earth thinkers, the stereotype of a gay man or woman as undependable, irresponsible, secondrate mentally and physically.

Can anyone really think that those gay men who have chosen to take combat training that reverses all normal civil behavior be unable to kill when required by orders or mission? Can the stereotype hold up against the evidence of deeds and the awarding of medals?

Homo-acceptance is worrisome to the flat-earthers: When prejudice meets reality, they lose their footing and slide on the suddenly made-round earth.

Martin Luther King Jr. is quoted as saying, “It may be true that the law cannot make a man love me, but it can keep him from lynching me, and I think that’s pretty important.”

Homo-hatred isn’t erased by the passage of laws any more than racism went extinct with the 1954 Supreme Court opinion of Brown v. Board of Education that integrated public schools.

After the presidential signing of the bill, the legal repeal of DADT doesn’t go into effect until the Pentagon and the president have certified that procedures and policies have been implemented, allowing for the smooth transition of gay/lesbian openness in the military. And then there is a 60-day “cooling-off period.” Can this cooling-off period be a resurgence of a phrase from another important civil rights movement?

The integration decision of Brown in 1954 required a second opinion in 1955 clarifying just how fast the implementation of the 1954 decision was to occur. The nine wise men in black wrote “with all deliberate speed.”

It took 11 years for passage of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, named after two men who were killed in particularly heinous ways during which time states passed anti-gay marriage amendments or statutes.

Perhaps the passage of time will bring our equality into focus even as the passage of laws are used to delay “with all deliberate speed” the recognition of our birthright of equality in America.

—James Nimmo
Oklahoma City
 
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