The Shame of Continuing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”

Marc Ambinder reports on the Obama plan for “don’t ask, don’t tell”:

The preferred route, I am told, is to build consensus. Obama would appoint a panel to study the issue and then wait until after the 2010 elections when there would (could) be more Democratic Senators.

Andrew Sullivan accurately captures how I feel about this:

Obama’s view on protecting gay servicemembers from harrassment and random firing is best summed up by the phrase “the fierce urgency of whenever.”


I wonder how Obama would have felt if Truman had followed the same path of cowardice and convenience in 1948, when racial integration was far more contentious in the military than gay integration is today. Or whether he would have applauded if the NAACP had decided that inter-racial marriage was too big a step for them in 1967 and they’d be content with calling it a “civil union.” On the matter of civil rights in his own time, alas, the first black president has so far demonstrated the courage of a Clinton.

When Secretary Gates said last weekend that it’s not the time to deal with “don’t ask, don’t tell” I was furious.  Do you know what it takes to stop that policy? Not firing people who are found to be gay.  Making military service in this country blind to sexual preference.  There are gay people currently serving in the military — the way to deal with it is to allow them to continue serving.  This is a key conjecture in our history.  We cannot be allowed to blithely let discrimination continue simply because it’s politically expedient.

But I wonder: is it politically expedient to keep the policy in place?  Because a few anger, far-right Republican Senators are threatening to make a stink about it?


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