Moral Low Ground

Civil Liberties

‘The Moral High Ground’: ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ Ends

‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,’ the U.S. military’s discriminatory ban on homosexuals serving openly in the ranks, has officially joined segregation and a prohibition on female troops upon the trash heap of history.

After nearly two decades (the law was introduced in 1993 during the Clinton administration), justice has finally been achieved for the tens of thousands of LGBT servicemen and women who were willing to give their lives fighting for a military that refused to give them their equal rights or allow them to be themselves.

Openly gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered service members are now free to reveal their sexuality without fear of investigation, reprimand or discharge. Former service members discharged under DADT are now permitted to re-enlist.

The armed forces are now processing applications from openly gay recruits, who have been filing them for weeks.

The end of this shameful chapter in US history is a culmination of years of efforts by LGBT soldiers and activists and progressive lawmakers to repeal the discriminatory law. Late last year, Congress voted to repeal DADT and President Barack Obama signed the repeal bill into law on December 22.

Obama and many lawmakers, most of them liberals, hailed the end of DADT. In a statement, the President said:

“As of today, patriotic Americans in uniform will no longer have to lie about who they are in order to serve the country they love. As of today, our armed forces will no longer lose the extraordinary skills and combat experience of so many gay and lesbian service members.”

“Our nation will finally close the door on a fundamental unfairness for gays and lesbians and indeed affirm equality for all Americans,” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) declared.

Even some Republicans, like Senator Susan Collins of Maine (who pushed for repeal), expressed their approval. “I felt strongly that this was a matter of justice and of our country not losing the talents of patriotic Americans wanting to serve,” Collins told the Bangor Daily News

Gay and lesbian soldiers also expressed their elation over the end of DADT. The Atlantic reports that the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, an advocacy group, is throwing more than 100 “Repeal Day” parties across the nation, and gay World War II veterans, many who never thought they’d live to see this day, were invited to a party thrown by Oklahomans for Equality in Tulsa.

Air Force First Lieutenant Joshua David Seefried, who had assumed the false identity of J.D. Smith to protect himself as he became an activist fighting for the repeal of DADT, celebrated the end of the policy by putting a photo of his Air Force pilot boyfriend on his desk and updating his Facebook profile to accurately reflect his sexual orientation. “Those are things I feel like I should do because I guess that is what a leader would do,” he told the Associated Press. “If we all stay in the closet and don’t act brave, then the next generation won’t have any progress.”

Some did more than just celebrate: Minutes after the midnight repeal, Navy Lieutenant Gary Ross married Dan Swezy, his civilian partner of 11 years in Vermont, one of six states that allow same-sex marriage. “We feel that it’s important that as soon as we’re allowed to commit to each other that we do,” Ross told the Associated Press. “It’s important not to hide anymore.”

And now, they won’t have to anymore. Goodbye and good riddance to ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,’ a shamefully discriminatory policy that will now only be read about, along with other past injustices, in history books.

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