Wednesday, September 21, 2011

DADT Repealed!

Movements and communications kept in check, a constant looking over the shoulder and a constant, permeating fear of being discovered. Everything incriminating had to be kept a secret- a relationship, visits to certain bars, etc. For years, that was the life of a gay service member in the US. It was a law that was supposed to help these men and women yet it was abused so regularly. Yesterday it was just repealed though it was certainly a long time in the coming.   
I know that I'm a little late on this... It's miraculous that I got to write this now (and that my homework was merciful enough for me to let up enough to relax a little) and I'm squeezing this in because I feel it's an important thing to talk about.

One may ask why these men and women would feel the need to announce this or even wonder why this is so important. Some homophobes may feel that it is the attempt of gay people to push their lifestyles on others. Yet it is a very important issue and a lot more complicated than these people are making it out to be.

At the very least, it is showing that mindsets are changing. It shows that even if things aren't perfect, they are certainly getting better. If Don't Ask Don't Tell is repealed that is one step closer to other LGBT victories such as repeals to discriminatory laws such as DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act).

The most major thing of course is the difference that it will make in these soldiers' lives. Most of those serving really don't care what sexuality you are as long as you do a good job. There are always exceptions to that rule unfortunately, which is why this injustice has happened for so long. I saw a cartoon a few months back with two caskets and a heading underneath it that asked: "Which one is the gay one?" That struck a chord with me. I mean, do their sexuality make them any less of a hero? Any less of a solider? Any less of a human being? It's not even a difference that you can usually tell unless the person discloses it themselves.

Despite its name, DADT didn't always quite work out that way. Many of the men and women discharged under the policy did not even disclose their sexuality but were discovered or outed by superiors or fellow servicemen. Many of these men and women have offered years into the service only to be dismissed into such a disrespectful way.

It isn't just that, though. Sexuality isn't all of a person obviously but I'm sure that many married or involved in a relationship would agree that their spouse/ lover plays a significant role in their lives (as well the children they've had with them, if they have had children with them). Straight couples never have to think about holding hands or kissing in public (which I find totally rude regardless of the genders of those involved but that's me personally) or proclaiming their love to each other. A straight person never has to think about confessing a crush to a friend or admitting they have a boyfriend or girlfriend. LGBT couples and people, on the other hand, risk persecution and harassment for daring to commit these same behaviors. For a long time, gay military service members who dared do this with their partners back home risked being fired.

But now they don't. DADT is dead!

There's a long way to go, of course. Prejudice is far from over and LGBT members of society still face it frequently. But still... This is a far kinder America than ones of years past and hopefully it will be a kinder one for the next generation. To any straight people out there, this is an issue that matters even if it may not apply to you. I am speaking from the point of view of a straight high school girl and from one relatively knowledgeable about history. Minorities get nowhere without the support of the majority around them and that's why it's so important for straight people to get involved too. As a someone of the female gender living in the United States, the reason I have any rights is not just because of the women who so bravely fought for them but also because of the men who fought with them.

In conclusion, the taste of progress is always sweet, no matter what is progressing.

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