The State of Our Union
Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell
There appeared to be a great deal of controversy surrounding last week’s State of the Union Address in which President Obama said, “This year, I will work with Congress and our military to finally repeal the law that denies gay Americans the right to serve the country they love because of who they are. It’s the right thing to do.” The ambiguity of Obama’s statement caused Queerty.com to take the ball and run with it, posting a snippet of the president’s speech the day it was given followed by commentary that has become signature snarkiness:
Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell
There appeared to be a great deal of controversy surrounding last week’s State of the Union Address in which President Obama said, “This year, I will work with Congress and our military to finally repeal the law that denies gay Americans the right to serve the country they love because of who they are. It’s the right thing to do.” The ambiguity of Obama’s statement caused Queerty.com to take the ball and run with it, posting a snippet of the president’s speech the day it was given followed by commentary that has become signature snarkiness: “So, uh, yay for promises!” This sounds like a typical reaction from someone who feels as if they’ve heard these promises before, but the article is followed the next day by another with a headline that reads, “Obama Actually Promised to Do Nothing More About DADT…” The article is full of bitchslaps directed at equal rights organizations such as the Human Rights Campaign, Servicemembers United and Lambda Legal for being appreciative and supportive of the president’s agenda. Queerty’s reaction begs two questions: If this is how they feel about it, what does the side that’s opposed to repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” think about the president’s announcement? Would Queerty’s reaction have been different if President Obama said, “Cross my heart, hope to die” and offered to pinky swear?
The opposition had a few juicy sound bites to offer. Senators John McCain and John Boehner each expressed their support for continuing the policy. Said Boehner, “When it comes to ‘don’t ask don’t tell,’ frankly, I think it’s worked very well. And we just ought to leave it alone.” Why not? Discrimination has worked well for African-Americans, Native Americans, women and immigrants, so why not continue to legally discriminate against gays? McCain, meanwhile, attempted a more measured, diplomatic approach that actually caused his words to splash back in his face. “I am immensely proud of, and thankful for, every American who wears the uniform of our country, especially at a time of war…” McCain obviously does not realize that there are currently gay and lesbian Americans in uniform that are serving just as honorably as their heterosexual counterparts, because he finishes the sentence with, “…and I believe it would be a mistake to repeal the policy.” He then rambles on about how heroic and professional our servicemembers are, still unaware of his own verbal gaff. McCain is not alone, though. Interviews and commentary were flying around like snow flurries, one of the more ridiculous being that it would be OK to repeal the law, but it needs to be done in a measured, incremental fashion. How do you interpret this? Do you start with the least threatening gays? Lesbians first, followed by bottoms and gradually working our way up to power tops?
With closing arguments soon to be heard in the federal challenge of California’s Proposition 8, the constitutional amendment that eliminated marriage equality, it’s worth reviewing the irrational fears and changing perspectives people have toward our families. The final “professional witness” for the defense of Prop. 8, David Blankenhorn, was reported to be uncooperative and had difficulty answering “yes” or “no” questions with “yes” or “no” answers, which resulted in testimony being extended another day. Plaintiff’s attorney David Boies successfully challenged Blankenhorn’s status as a “professional witness,” citing Blankenhorn’s association with the Institute for American Values and bringing to light a passage from Blankenhorn’s book, in which he said “we would be more American on the day we permit same-sex marriage than the day before,” and admitted in his testimony that he still believes what he wrote in his book. It bears repeating that Blankenhorn was a witness in support of Prop. 8. Meanwhile, Maggie Gallagher of the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) penned a letter to the judge hearing the case complaining that the trial had been ill-served because of the debate surrounding whether or not to televise the hearings: “The public record has been impoverished and the information available to reviewing courts permanently reduced all because some witnesses feared retaliation as a result of the publicity.” Ms. Gallagher also expressed, “The price of participating in a trial should not be the willingness to tolerate even a minimum of reasonable threats to one’s livelihood or personal safety.” What Ms. Gallagher fails to understand is that same price can has already been levied against those of us who dare to be ourselves. If she feels like a victim now, Ms. Gallagher should try being gay.
On the lighter side, three adoptions by openly gay people have been finalized in spite of Florida’s law banning same-sex couples from adopting. In each case judge’s have ruled that Florida’s law banning gay people from adopting is unconstitutional. With these decisions being made in the lower courts (one in Monroe County, two in Miami-Dade) this is hardly the last word – one case is pending appeal while the most recent, the adoption of a baby girl by a relative and her partner, is awaiting Florida Department of Children & Families’ decision on whether or not to appeal. The timeline here really helps put the battle for protection of our rights, the rights our families and the right to have a family itself into perspective – the law denying us of our right to adopt was passed in 1977.