Today marks the official end of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," the discriminatory law that barred gay men and women from serving openly in the US military.
It's amazing and very surreal to speak of DADT in the past tense - for even once Congress voted for repeal and the President signed it into law, there was still a very lengthy process (to the tune of half a year or so) which finally culminated in today's official death of discrimination in the form of DADT. But at last, we can say that this bigoted remnant of the Clinton Administration is gone for good.
Today's good news comes as the result of hard work of thousands upon thousands of people who called their congressmen, wrote letters to the editor, risked arrest and, yes, blogged for repeal. I still remember organizing a Facebook event that mobilized over 1,000 people to call the offices of key Senators and urge them to support repeal. Many people worked very hard over the course of many months to see DADT gone, and we should be proud of ourselves for our accomplishment on this day.
Today is a day of celebration, for we are that much closer to a world in which LGBT people are truly treated equally. Gay servicemembers are coming out; those who could not serve openly are marrying their loved ones; lawmakers from both sides of the aisle are saying"good riddance" to DADT; the President released this statement on repeal:
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. And today, as Commander in Chief, I want those who were discharged under this law to know that your country deeply values your service.
If you live in Connecticut, you can attend a rally this Saturday hosted by Congressman Jim Himes (CT-04) and the Human Rights Campaign celebrating repeal and discussing the next steps towards ensuring full LGBT equality.
Repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" is a resounding success for the LGBT community; a law that institutionalized discrimination within our federal government is no more. But make no mistake: we still have a long way to go in procuring equality for LGBT servicemembers. Transgender servicemembers are still not allowed to serve openly, and there is nothing stopping LGBT servicemembers from being discriminated against in the military. LGBT military and veterans spouses are also not treated fairly because of the "Defense of Marriage Act." We have a long way to go yet in ensuring equality for our men and women in uniform, and for ourselves.
GetEQUAL has mobilized its forces for full federal equality in the wake of DADT repeal, emphasizing the need for equality in various other realms. Check out the Day of Discontent map to see if there are any events in your area.
Today, we celebrate the death of a discriminatory law that has kept patriotic men and women from serving in the armed forces. Tomorrow, we continue the fight for full equality.