Saturday, December 18, 2010

Don't Ask Don't Tell Is Dead; It's Beginning to Look Like Obama's Winning

Congratulations are in order for a number of people now that the discriminatory Don't Ask, Don't Tell anti-gay rule was voted down in the U.S. Senate; it cleared the House earlier in the week.

Some thoughts:

Joe Lieberman has become a liberal punching bag (and, on NPR's Wait Wait Don't Tell Me, as a punchline). He's certainly gone out of his way since he lost his primary in the previous election cycle to antagonize pretty much anyone who's not a grinch. But I think it's pretty clear that DADT would still be alive and kicking if it weren't for his dogged leadership on this in the Senate. I was part of a group of gay rights activists who met with Lieberman back in 2004 when he was running for president. I was impressed with him at the time; he really seemed to get it, and that made my eventual disappointment in his bridge-burning behavior all the stronger. But he's done something very, very good with this DADT leadership, and I hope everyone else who's criticized him of late takes note.

Senator Harry Reid, the majority leader in the Senate, looks like he should be a sixth-grade teacher nearing the end of his career, but appearances are deceiving. He's clearly got the political moxie to get DADT repeal and other tough issues through the Senate, so kudos to the Nevada senator, as well.

Soldier Daniel Choi, the gay former member of the Army (before he was discharged under DADT), has been vindicated. The policy was discriminatory, it harmed our national defense, it demeaned the honor and integrity of soldiers who had to lie to serve their country, and it was totally unnecessary – plenty of militaries around the globe don't discriminate against gays.

And, of course, President Barack Obama gets credit. He's also been a punching bag of gay rights proponents for the past year. He's showing that he's got the guts and the thick skin to get his agenda through Congress, even with the occasional compromise. For someone who was supposed to be politically dead after the Republicans routed the House Democrats in the November midterms, Obama's looking pretty damn powerful and successful at the moment: DADT repeal, the tax compromise, the new START treaty (which last I heard was also likely to pass, though GOP troublemakers could still delay it, at considerable cost to our nation's security).

There are other heroes of this day, too, such as my U.S. representative, Nancy Pelosi (perhaps you've heard of her?). But I'll stop there. It's a day in which a number of politicians acquitted themselves well, and that's a great Christmas present to the entire country.

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