“Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” has been repealed by the Congress of the United States and the bill now awaits the President’s signature. Already the punditry is racing to divvy up the credit. The final vote was 65 to 31 with 4 Senators not voting, 3 GOP and 1 Dem.
The NYTimes has one of its superb national maps with the Senate's voting results. [Here] It’s always interesting to view a vote this way and to see how the issue played out in the Senate representation across the country. The northeast stood tall and bipartisan, voting yes with the exception of retiring Judd Greg who didn’t cast a vote. The Senators of both parties from the West Coast, the northern tier states, and Alaska and Hawaii also voted for repeal. It was down in the deep South with the exception of a divided Florida and in what I call the desert West--Idaho, Wyoming, Utah, and Arizona--that the GOP stood firmly against repeal. Orin Hatch abstained, as did the new Democratic Senator from West Virginia, Joe Manchin. (In fact, Joe Manchin was out of town and missed all the crucial votes of the day--DREAM and DADT. He claimed that he had a prior obligation to party with his family...)
It was certainly mighty fine to see happy, smiling, and, yes!, victorious faces after the Senate vote. [Here] It was particularly fine to see such happiness on Democrats and Republican faces. In fact, there was one shot of Joe Lieberman and Susan Collins, both grinning widely, as they walked to the press. I haven’t seen either of them look so relaxed and joyous in a very long time and certainly not in the same camera shot. That’s what can happen when one does the right thing.
Huffpost has posted a statement from the activist Lt. Don Choi that reminds us that there is still some work to be done: [Here]
President Obama, you are not off the hook. The compromise bill passed today puts the moral imperative squarely on your desk. Sign an executive order instituting a full non-discrimination policy throughout the military. If you do not, if you drag your feet and politicize this with your theoretical calculations as you have these past two years, you will be guilty of abetting those who loudly proclaim homophobia from their platforms and pulpits. Provide them no shelter or safe haven. Institute justice now...
Choi also wrote:
The mission is not finished; it has only just begun. The most critical mission is supporting and encouraging closeted soldiers to finally access their full integrity, dignity, and humanity...”
...I intend to rejoin the military and serve in any capacity I can be of best use. I intend to marry and have a family of my own. We are living in a truly historic moment...We are one team with one goal: Equality in our lifetime. I do not intend to waver or retreat in pursuit of this new life purpose and mission, and neither should any American who loves justice.
This statement by the extraordinary Dan Choi puts him in line to come face to face with DOMA and all the other discriminatory anti-gay marriage laws. We might have to wait a moment while this current conservative plutocracy blows itself out, but I doubt that Choi and others who fought and beat back the military establishment will stand back and be silent.
Remember when Choi gave Harry Reid his West Point ring at Netroots Nation? Here is a video of that wonderful moment. Reid promised to keep the ring in a safe place and return it when the law was repealed. What a fine moment the return of that ring will be.
Let us hope that there will be cameras present. That is one moment that deserves to be memorialized.
Our gratitude and congratulations to both of these fine men...