Saturday, December 18, 2010

Senate votes to end Don't Ask, Don't Tell

The U.S. Senate voted today to end "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," the Clinton-era compromise that restricted gay and lesbian soldiers from serving openly in our military. The vote means that the bill, which has already passed in the House, will go to President Obama's desk, where he will sign it into law next week.

By removing the ban, Democrats -- and yes, some Republicans, too -- have acknowledged that a person's sexual orientation shouldn't matter if one wants to become a member of our armed forces.

President Obama hailed the move for homosexual rights, stating that it was "time to close this chapter in our nation's history."

It is indeed a victory for those that consider themselves gay or lesbian. It's a step in a positive direction, an acknowledgment from the government that restrictions on homosexuality needn't be made, usually have zero basis, and that such restrictions are an unfair discriminatory act against those whose lifestyle does no harm to the nation at-large, militarily or otherwise.

The change in military policy, in fact, changes only one aspect of our military's treatment of gays and lesbians -- homosexuals have indeed been allowed to serve since DADT was implemented. What changes is that the government can no longer discharge soldiers who are openly gay, which was the right move to make. But our military won't be weaker for having ended this ban, as some have suggested -- indeed, we have had gays and lesbians serve for almost twenty years now, without any problems!

The future looks bright for gays and lesbians in our country. More Americans support gay marriage, a majority supported lifting this ban, and schools across the country are putting into place anti-bullying rules meant to protect homosexual students.

Total equality is a long way off, and there are many fights yet to be won. I'm optimistic, however, that in my lifetime I may attend a wedding of a gay or lesbian friend -- one that won't only be full of happiness for their union, but that will also receive recognition from the state as valid, along with all of the rights and privileges that straight married couples receive.

Today's victory doesn’t mean that things are going to change overnight for the same-sex equality movement. But it IS a step in that direction, towards a more equal society.

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