A great thing happened yesterday: The Senate passed, 65-31, the repeal of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy. It will be signed next week by the President. There’s been a lot of celebration, and yes, credit being given where it’s due. Let’s be real, did anyone expect Joe Liebermann to be the lead sponsor on something like this? It’s a major accomplishment, one that most people thought was dead not more than two weeks ago. Yes, the President delivered on something he said he would deliver, and there is no doubt that he worked hard on it. There is plenty credit to go around, and we should acknowledge the Congressional leadership – and even the Republicans – who made this happen.
As I pointed out yesterday in an article at Blue Wave News, the legislation does not “instantly” repeal the policy. It sets forth a procedure and a time line for the military and the President to follow. There will be problems, and Rob M over at CAAFLog (a military justice blog) has a good round-up of them. The military will deal with the problems, but the policies and procedures have to be in place for it to deal with them. That’s why there’s a procedure in the law, and it’s a good one. Which, of course is why the frustrati waited 10 to 15 minutes to start whining about it.
Seriously. Right after it passed, lo and behold, there goes Dan Choi running around screaming demands at the President. In an article over at Huffington Post, he went:
President Obama, you are not off the hook. The compromise bill passed today puts the moral imperative squarely on your desk. Sign an executive order instituting a full non-discrimination policy throughout the military. If you do not, if you drag your feet and politicize this with your theoretical calculations as you have these past two years, you will be guilty of abetting those who loudly proclaim homophobia from their platforms and pulpits. Provide them no shelter or safe haven. Institute justice now.
Right. Let me make my opinion of Dan Choi clear here. He did one brave thing in coming out. A combat veteran and West Point graduate, by coming out he made the point that gays have – and do – serve honorably in the military, and that DADT was a policy that was unfair. He became a major advocate, and public face for the repeal. All to the good. What he did after that was where he “left the rails” in terms of the military. As a member of the New York National Guard, he was recalled to active duty – and then proceeded to chain himself to the White House fence in uniform to protest DADT. This went over well with the frustrati, the the reality was that the media ignored it entirely. They were focused on something much more newsworthy at the time – the signing of the health care bill. While it went over well with the frustrati, it went over like a lead balloon with the military and many veterans. You see, one of the rules in the military is that you don’t wear your uniform for political purposes. Period. Which is why many of us had exactly the opposite reaction from what was expected. My opinion? He really didn’t want to be in the Army. Now, the National Guard dismissed him, and yes, it was because he was gay. But what most people don’t know that his being dismissed saved him from being court-martialed. Really. He was facing charges for his actions – not for being gay – and the only reason it was dropped was because the NY National Guard had booted him out. In other words, the Army has all sorts of reasons not to want Lieutenant Choi back, and they have nothing to do with his being gay.
But he serves now as a typical example of the frustrati. It’s never “good enough” for them. They want it now, regardless of the legal and practical considerations. Yesterday, a landmark bill was passed. One that will go down in the history books as a major achievement of this Congress and this President. Pragmatic people realize that this is the removal of a major barrier, but that does not mean that it’s suddenly “all better.” No major legislation, no major policy change, has had “instant” implementation. There’s a long, often painful process that occurs. There is still resistance, there will still be problems, and whether we like it or not, plans and policies have to be drawn up to deal with that. But the frustrati are never satisfied. Well…
The frustrati just have to be angry. What Dan Choi just demonstrated is that it doesn’t matter what this President does, it’ll never be good enough for them. That’s why we need to keep pushing back, and delivering the message of sanity. Because we recognize a big first step has been taken, but the journey is not complete, and it won’t happen with a single jump.