At 12:01 a.m., Sept. 20, 2011, an 18-year-old blot on America’s sense of fairness and the military’s reliance on integrity will be removed. Don’t ask don’t tell (DADT), which has been responsible for removing more than 14,500 able men and women from the armed forces because of their sexual orientation, will cease to be the law of the land.
The road to this day was long. The political machinations that made it possible tested the patience of a community and raised questions about whether President Obama would follow through on his promise to end the ban on gay men and lesbians serving openly in the military. But the journey is not entirely complete.
There are still issues concerning benefits that have nothing to do with the legacy of DADT and everything to do with DOMA, the so-called Defense of Marriage Act. For instance, because of DOMA, the surviving same-sex spouse of a service member is out of luck in receiving the same considerations a surviving straight spouse. You better believe there are plans in the works to right this wrong.
Greg Sargent nailed the larger significance of the demise of DADT in a post earlier this afternoon. “It was an extremely hard-fought win — a massive victory for common sense and decency over bigotry and legalized discrimination,” he wrote. “At a difficult moment, it stands as a sorely needed reminder that progress remains possible. Let’s not forget it.”
Now, about DOMA....