If you woke up this morning and the air smelled a little gayer, but also a touch safer, it wasn't thanks to the Broadway show tunes that lulled you to sleep last night. More likely, it was because as of 12:01 this morning, the policy known as Don't Ask, Don't Tell was formally consigned to the dustbin of irrationally prejudiced history.
Turns out the moral arc of the universe is long, but it bends toward fabulousness…
The 18-year-old "don't ask, don’t tell" policy officially ended at midnight and with it the discharges that removed more than 13,000 men and women from the military under the old ban on openly gay troops. To mark the historic change, gay rights groups are planning celebrations across the country while Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta and Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, will usher in the new era at a Pentagon news conference.
The other side will be heard, too: Elaine Donnelly, a longtime opponent of allowing gay men and lesbians to serve openly in the armed forces, has already said that "as of Tuesday the commander in chief will own the San Francisco military he has created." Two top Republicans on the House Armed Services Committee — the chairman, Representative Howard P. McKeon of California, and Representative Joe Wilson of South Carolina — have asked the Pentagon to delay the new policy, saying commanders in the field are not ready. But the Pentagon has moved on.
I have so many questions about this "San Francisco military" and the "Rainbow Warriors" who may now serve openly. Will feather boas become mandatory accessories to the Army Combat Uniform? Will the score to La Cage aux Folles replace morning reveille? Will nefarious San Francisco values displace the martial virtues that keep us safe? A letter sent by top commanders to U.S. Army soldiers provides some guidance…
For over 236 years, the U.S. Army has been an extraordinary force for good in the world. Our Soldiers are the most agile, adaptable and capable warriors in history — and we are ready for this change…
Accordingly, we expect all personnel to follow our Values by implementing the repeal fully, fairly and in accordance with policy guidance. It is the duty of all personnel to treat each other with dignity and respect, while maintaining good order and discipline throughout our ranks. Doing so, will help the U.S. Army remain the Strength of the Nation.
Sounds like business as usual. Except now, when gay soldiers do the difficult work of defending Congressmen McKeon and Wilson's rights to be petty and bigoted brats, they can do so while being true to themselves. Progress.
Photo by Joshua Roberts/Getty Images News/Getty Images
Tags: DADT, Elaine Donnelly, Howard McKeon, Joe Wilson, Leon Panetta, LGBT, Mike Mullen, Military