Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Don't Ask Don't Tell Repealed

Finally, the egregious ban on lesbians and gays serving openly in the military is gone. Instituted during the Clinton years, Congress recently passed -- and on Wednesday President Obama will sign -- a bill repealing Don't Ask, Don't Tell!

In 1993, while working for NOW, I helped organize a protest of the ban on lesbians and gays in the military, in front of the White House. A few of the protesters took part in an act of non-violent civil disobedience, which resulted in their arrest. Among those arrested were NOW Action Vice President Rosemary Dempsey, and lesbian Army Captain Tanya Domi.

Domi, who will be present as President Obama signs the new law, recounts her years of advocacy against DADT here.
Since late last night I have been posting thank yous on Facebook, friends and colleagues who have worked days, weeks, months and years in our effort to repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. This is a moment we have worked toward for decades–the toil, the frustration, the agony, the sadness and great sacrifice, suffering in silence from the closet, removed from traditional sources of emotional support, as we served in defense of our country.

My tears began welling up this morning as I received and exchanged so many heart felt expressions of support and gratitude from around the country during the Senate discussion led by Senator Joe Lieberman, who reminds me of the time honored assertion that inside the beltway there are no permanent enemies. His leadership also symbolizes the internalized social justice values of the Jewish community, who have always been there for us–stood with us– since the beginning of this fight so many decades ago.

We stand on the shoulders of many who have not lived to see this day: Leonard Matlovich, Karl Cropsey, Copy Berg, Thomas Paniccia, Randy Shilts, Alan Stephens, Tom Stoddard, Gerry Studds, Perry Watkins and so many others. But I am so happy that Frank Kameny was alive to see this repeal come to pass, as Frank began his courageous advocacy on the military’s gay ban in the 1950s–during the age of the Philistines.
Wednesday marks the beginning of a new day for lesbian and gay Americans as we celebrate the an end to the ban on lesbians and gays in the military.

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