On Thursday, a federal judge in California did the absolute right thing. Judge Virginia A. Phillips ruled that the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" (DADT) policy which bars openly gay and lesbian service members from serving in the military is unconstitutional. Democratic congressional leaders and gay rights groups met on Monday to discuss the possible repeal of the policy. The repeal, if approved, wouldn't take effect until after the Pentagon finishes a study on how to integrate openly gay service members.
The fair-minded judge wrote in an 85-page opinion that the "Plaintiff has demonstrated it is entitled to the relief sought on behalf of its members, a judicial declaration that the don't ask, don't tell act violates the Fifth and First Amendments, and a permanent injunction barring its enforcement." And, that DADT infringes upon the fundamental rights of gay and lesbian United States service members in many ways, including the right to enjoy "intimate conduct" in their personal relationships and the right to speak to loved ones while serving their country in uniform. The White released a statement saying: "The President remains committed
to legislative repeal of DADT, and he will continue to work with
lawmakers to achieve that goal this fall. And he will continue to work
closely with Secretary Gates, Admiral Mullen, and the Joint Chiefs of
Staff on an ongoing study of how to best implement the repeal."
The decision comes almost a week after Chicago Salutes its LGBT Veterans - very cool. This decision truly does lead us one step closer to full-on equality. The Executive Director of the National Black Justice Coalition Sharon Lettman said it great, "Yesterday's decision on 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' leads us one step closer
to an official end to government-sanctioned identity suppression."
Twenty-five countries currently allow openly gay people to serve in the military:
--Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, Uruguay.
I read a quote by the late Senator Barry Goldwater, himself a combat veteran of World War II, who said it best when he remarked, "you don't have to be straight to shoot straight."