Kerry Eleveld has an important post about the future of gay and lesbian servicemembers once DADT has finally ended. This is a really good follow up to the post from SWAN’s Anu Bhagwati: Civil Rights Lite.
The DADT compromises made by the White House (Jim Messina) and some of the advocates (including CAP’s Winnie Stachelberg) last May included the removal of non-discrimination language. That leaves a huge hole, which could pose problems for out servicemembers. It’s fixable. But, leadership is required.
Last week, headlines suggested that “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal implementation was on the move even though Pentagon officials gave no target date for when it would be complete.
But here’s what the reports missed: President Barack Obama and Defense Department officials are preparing to provide lesbian and gay service members the space to serve openly without risking expulsion while simultaneously affording them absolutely no legally enforceable anti-discrimination protections once they are visible.
Sure, they may not be at risk for being discharged after implementation, but they will have no means of sustainable legal recourse if they are discriminated against in any other way (or if the political environment shifts) on the basis of their sexual orientation.
Eliminating discharges is only part of the battle in terms of protecting gay service members, and candidate Barack Obama was extremely clear on this point.
“The eradication of this policy will require more than just eliminating one statute. It will require the implementation of anti-harassment policies and protocols for dealing with abusive or discriminatory behavior as we transition our armed forces away from a policy of discrimination,” he wrote in a statement on his candidate website in 2007.
Wow. That’s a far cry from the president who twice declined to answer whether he would issue a nondiscrimination mandate via executive order in an interview last December. After dodging the question once and being pressed on the matter again, he said only, “I am going to look exactly at what the recommendations are, and we will be making decisions over the next series of weeks about what is necessary to implement not just the letter but the spirit of this repeal.”
The whole post is worth a read. There’s a lot of work to be done.
Also, let’s hope the Pentagon gets the certification done ASAP. The longer this lingers, the more opportunities the homophobes in Congress will have to muck with it. And, we’ve already seen Rep. Duncan “Not the YMCA” Hunter has legislation to screw up the process of ending DADT.