Sunday, December 19, 2010

DADT Goes Down For The Three-Count

So, Don't-Ask, Don't-Tell is officially dead. Gay/bisexual people already in the military and those looking to enlist in the future can now be honest about who they are and who they love and poor Dan Choi can re-enlist. And that's great. Really, it is. I can't see why anyone, gay or straight, would want to elist under current circumstances but that's besides the point. I can't help but be suspicious that real political effort to repeal DADT only came when the US was stuck in a seemingly intractable war and having trouble recruiting people like translators. "Enlist your gays for we need the cannon fodder"?

Still, a step forward for equality. And everyone who pushed for, proposed and agitated for this change deserves congratulation. Congrats guys, have a drink and take a short holiday.

There, did you enjoy it? I don't want to rain on anyone's parade but the fact is, getting gay people their right to risk life and limb for the Stars & Stripes was only part of the battle and, given the USA's near worship of the military, probably one of the easier parts. The Department of Defence (and really, what are they defending? The US has been on the offensive for years) wants warm bodies in uniform, and at a certain level, they're not overly picky about who they are. The military has accepted neo-Nazis, assorted racists and a slightly worrying amount of organised fundementalist Christians (small note: Christians in general, no problem. Christians who want to remake the military into a crusading force for Christendom, that's a problem) so why not gay people?

But don't think everything is wine and roses now. There are still going to be problems integrating the military in the same way as there were with racial integration and the larger war for full equality still goes on. Gay people still don't have equality in marriage rights, hospital visitation, taxation, employment and a bazillion other things I don't have space to list right now. This is a start, a step in the right direction.

That's not to take away from the importance of this step. The good guys won one for a change, enjoy that, revel in it for a little while. But only for a little while because we won a battle but the war goes on.