Hello, gentle viewers. I believe I shall take a break from our regularly scheduled blogging and follow this bunny trail over there.
For many years now, our military has discharged individuals who volunteered to enlist, to fight, to serve, to give their lives — because of one thing they had in common. For many years now, our gay and lesbian service members have had to live in silence, lying about who they love and hiding from their friends and colleagues. If they spoke out, it was under an alias — and if they got caught, they got discharged.
Today that ends.
At 12:01 AM, the policy of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell was repealed, officially off the books. While some military personnel might come out immediately, others will stay silent until they feel the need to be open. The point is that now they can be. They won’t lose their careers. And the 14,346 human beings who were arbitrarily forced to abandon theirs can re-enlist if they choose to.
It’s not the be all, end all of a day. It’s not the final step in a marathon, but it’s a big step. It’s a first acknowledgment that the gay and lesbian service members are people deserving respect. That their sexual orientation in no way diminishes their sacrifice and willingness to serve the country. It also ends the insult to the straight service members who haven’t been given enough credit — for years the supporters of DADT have said it would cause chaos in the military and undermine the cohesion of units.
How insulting is that to the straight members of our military? To say that they are incapable of being comrades with gay people? To say they can’t handle having openly gay members of their units? To expect them to give their lives in Iraq or Afghanistan but panic in the face of homosexuality? Give those human beings some respect and credit as well — expect that they will behave rationally and be open and honest and kind. Expect that they would act like heroes and band around people they have served with for months and years instead of suddenly turning their backs on them.
I hope for a day when not only can our gay and lesbian service members serve openly, but that their partners and families receive the same due respect and support, the same benefits and rights as their straight counterparts. That they can stand up and be recognized for their sacrifices and that their long silence can be acknowledged.
To all of our gay and lesbian military service members today, thank you for your service. To our transgender service members who still feel the burden of silence, you aren’t forgotten. To all of those who have served us in silence for so long and given their lives before they could give us their names, you are heroes.
The world will be better tomorrow.