Absolutely shameful. Under George Bush and the Republicans this was expected behavior. After all, they routinely broke the law and undermined the Constitution, so bigotry and discrimination, and destroying the lives of countless patriotic American soldiers, was just another day’s work for the Republicans. Under Barack Obama and the Democrats, this is disgraceful.
There is no excuse for one more gay soldier being discharged under this president. Barack Obama had the ability on day one to put a stop to the discharges. No, he does not have the power to single-handedly repeal Don’t Ask Don’t Tell – the policy is written in law, and Congress needs to repeal it. But President Obama had the power – and still has – to put a stop to the discharges, pending the upcoming review of the policy he has promised – the upcoming repeal of the policy which he has promised. Obama could have issued a stop-loss order, retaining all soldiers implicated under the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy until such time as the policy is revisited. Obama also has the ability to stop the witch hunts and the investigations, as Aaron Belkin argues in the piece I linked to above.
If President Obama permits even one gay soldier to be discharged under his watch he will become as dishonorable as the president who served before him. The president who tortured. The president who discriminated. If Barack Obama does nothing, he will be no better than the southern racists who only a generation ago would have scoffed at a black man in a swimming pool, let alone the Oval Office.
It is one thing to suggest that “now is not the right time,” and that we should perhaps wait until, say, next year to lift the ban. It is quite another for our president to become an active participant in discriminating against gay soldiers. The former is debatable. The latter is immoral.
The first black president cannot in his first months in office be a party to bigotry. Enough is enough. It’s time for this administration to stop being embarrassed that some of our citizens, many of their supporters, are gay. It’s time for this administration to stop giving gays and lesbians second-hand appointments and thinking that they’ve done us a favor. It was painfully obvious that there was no consideration given whatsoever to an openly gay person serving in the President’s cabinet. Every major minority got a seat – or three – but not the gays (and you’d better believe the diversity of the cabinet was well-orchestrated and intentional). Even the Republicans were more welcome in this cabinet than the gays. And the only gay agency head, who isn’t even cabinet level, runs the personnel office – a job that in my work experience was far too often reserved for women and gay men.
Am I the only one who thinks it will be a cold day in hell when this administration appoints an openly gay person to the cabinet or the Supreme Court? (And appointing closet cases, whether under the previous administration or this one, does not count. A gay person ashamed of their sexual orientation is about as much of a role model, or a step forward, as a Latino ashamed of their ethnicity, or a black man ashamed of his race.)
I do not think that Barack Obama is homophobic. In fact, I suspect in his heart of hearts he supports all of our rights, including marriage. But we scare him. And our rights scare his advisors. I fear there will never be a “good time” to advance the cause of our freedom. And every day we wait, every soldier we fire, will only make it that much harder to one day do the right thing.
I respect this President, and I thank God that he, rather than McCain-Palin, is in office during these troubling times. But I take no solace in knowing that even with a black man in the White House, the torch of bigotry continues to burn bright.