This morning, a bipartisan group of 57 Democrats and six Republicans broke a GOP filibuster, allowing the Senate to vote up or down on a standalone bill to repeal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." This afternoon, the Senate finished the deal -- the legislation passed 65 to 31.
The legislation is identical to the one that passed the House a few days ago, so its next stop is the White House, where President Obama will gladly sign it into law, officially removing DADT from the books and relegating the discriminatory policy to the trash heap of history.
For those who don't know, Don't Ask Don't Tell was a compromise plan put into play back in the 1990s to allow gays and lesbians to serve in the military. As long as the gays and lesbians didn't publicly state their orientation, nobody was (supposed to) ask what that orientation was.
Problem was, the opponents to having gays in the military (social conservatives reading a very narrow and inflexible interpretation of the Bible) quickly figured out loopholes to that: for example, having a third party report someone suspected of gay/lesbian leanings. And then using either the soldier's silence on the matter to remove them for insubordinate behavior, or force the soldier to admit their orientation and get drummed out for Telling. What was meant to protect gays had instead been used to push even more of them out of service than before.
It took time - younger and more tolerant generations getting into the military, growing public awareness that a majority of straight soldiers had no problem serving with gays, the problem of pushing out highly qualified officers at a time of war and manpower shortages - but today, after years of conservative obstruction and flat-out fear-mongering (that homosexuality in the armed forces would lead to body art, adultery, bestiality, and waaaaaay too much make-up girlfriend), the Senate voted on the repeal of DADT. Basically, gays and lesbians should be able to serve in the military same as straight people.
The Religious Right are going to have a conniption over this. "Oh noes" they will scream "God will PUNISH us for not adhering to Leviticus! Our military's gonna be filled with flamers and anal rapists and cow lovers! Our nation is DOOMED (unless you buy my book about it, for only 29.99 directly from my website!)"
Problem for those "righteous" screamers is this: the ones yelling about it the most are the most hypocritical of all with their own sins (draft dodging, adultery, war-mongering). So screw them.
The average soldier is not gonna have a problem serving with gays. If there's a hassle, you take it to the MPs. The military can maintain discipline in the face of ANYTHING, dammit (The US Armed Forces are quite possibly the most organized, prepared and adaptive military force since the Romans or the Mongols), and we ought to be able to trust all of them on that.
I have no problems with gays in the military. If an American wants to serve in the armed forces, as long as they are fit and capable, as long as they accept the challenges before them, I don't care of their ethnicity, their religion, their gender, their statehood, their sexual orientation, their foot size, their hat size, their favorite color. I never served, but that's me, and I'm not about to begrudge those who did with honor, and love of home and family.
This is a good day to be an American. One more bigotry defeated. One more right confirmed for those who want to serve this nation.
Tomorrow is gonna feel like a sunny day.