A more perfect Union: Don't Ask, Don't Tell Repealed

Carla Axtman

Associated Press:

In a historic vote for gay rights, the Senate agreed Saturday to do away with the military's 17-year ban on openly gay troops and sent President Barack Obama legislation to overturn the Clinton-era policy known as "don't ask, don't tell."

Obama was expected to sign the bill into law next week, although changes to military policy probably wouldn't take effect for at least several months.

Under the bill, the president and his top military advisers must first certify that lifting the ban won't hurt troops' ability to fight. After that, the military would undergo a 60-day wait period.

Repeal would mean that, for the first time in American history, gays would be openly accepted by the armed forces and could acknowledge their sexual orientation without fear of being kicked out.

I was at Netroots Nation this year when Lt. Dan Choi gave his West Point ring to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, and stood in the room while the events unfolded. Reid promised to return the ring when Don't Ask, Don't Tell repeal is signed by the President. Soon Reid can return it having kept his word to Choi.

It's been a long and arduous road, but we made it, another inch closer to a more perfect union. We've a tremendous way to go to reach full equality for our LGBT brothers and sisters. But I'm so pleased to see this ridiculous policy finally go the way of the dodo.

Both of our Senators voted for the repeal as did the entire Oregon House delegation, save one: Greg Walden. Walden's vote is shameful and disgusting pandering to the worse elements of his party. Not that it's surprising--but one hopes that Walden might actually do the right thing for a change.

Congratulations to all those who've worked so hard and devoted themselves to seeing this through.

Comments

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    Finally. It's way past time.

    And the policy was SUPPOSED to be "Don't ask, don't tell, don't pursue", meaning that the military wasn't supposed to pursue rumors or tips from other soldiers.

    This part of the policy was routinely ignored, with no consequences to those who ignored it.

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    A major turning point in American civil rights history and culture. When African Americans were made equal in the military it was the beginning of the end of segregation. This was done with overwhelming support from the American people.

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    Lt. Choi has been in the hospital recently due to the exhaustion of the DADT battle over the last few months. I hope that on the day of the bill signing, he and Senator Reid will be at the President's side to see the bill signed into law, and then have his ring returned to him along with the gift of a signing pen with which he can sign his re-enlistment papers if he so chooses.

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    I am delighted to be going to sleep tonight in a world that is a bit more just and right than the one I woke up in the morning.

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    Far past time; well done.

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    This was a job well done but we shouldn't ignore what a close call it was. If the Oregon congressional delegation had its way, the Obama tax compromise would have failed and the repeal of DADT would never have made it to the floor of the Senate.

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      ...which would, of course, have been another example of the utter depravity of the GOP leadership.

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        Actually, Kari, it's an example of Republicans doing what your friends have been complaining that Obama and most Democrats don't do, i.e., identifying their priorities and fighting for them.

        Republicans said they wouldn't pass any other bills until the tax cuts were extended and they meant it. Obama said he wouldn't extend tax cuts for couples making over $250,000 but then he compromised.

        Apparently Republicans are depraved when they fight for their principles and Democrats are wimps would they compromise theirs.

        (I'm not going to respond to Steve's characterization below except to say I'm a little uncomfortable with how familiar he seems to be with that dialogue.)

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          I appreciate politicians who fight for what they believe in, but that makes it all the more important for them to hold worthwhile views. The belief that "cutting taxes for the rich matters more then anything else" is not worthwhile. Holding firmly to that belief makes it more wrong, not more right.

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          And GOP priorities are that the wealthiest 2% should have more money and the national security, the unemployed, and fundamental human rights be damned. You ought to be ashamed of defending their behavior.

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          Glad you confirm that legal discrimination is your part of your "principles".

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            Do us all a favor, Mitchell, and learn to read. The principles I was attributing to Republicans had to do with the tax cuts, not DADT.

            As you may have noticed, repeal of DADT wouldn't even have come up for a vote unless Republicans had voted for it.

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              I did read. And your comment was saying that the GOP would not have allowed the DADT to come up for a vote if the GOP didn't get their vote on the tax cuts.

              So your "principles" on ending discrimination do indeed seem to be more than flexible.

              And currently the GOP leadership and key members of your caucus are threatening to not ratify the START treaty because DADT got repealed.

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                That's not why they are opposing START. Personally, I think START should be ratified, but Republicans like Sen. Kyl have been opposing this all along.

                But basically you are proving my original point: Republicans are successful even in the minority because they know what their priorities are and they fight for them. You are like many in your party, flitting from issue to issue without focusing on what's really going on around you.

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      Virtually your entire party (along w/ a lot of religious democrats) fight tooth and nail against equal rights....then when we actually take a step forward, you find a way to criticize progressives. Pathetic.

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        I'm not criticizing progressives. Most progressives supported the Obama tax compromise. I'm just pointing out to the ideologues who wanted to fight that compromise to the death, they not only would have gotten a worse tax bill after the first of the year but they also wouldn't have gotten repeal of DADT at all.

        I happen to believe things get done by people who value consequences above good intentions.

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          SO you reject your parties elected pols who are now threatening to not ratify the START treaty because DADT passed (with 8 GOP members voting for it I might add)...?

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            As I noted in a post above, I do disagree with those who are opposing START, but they are not opposing it because of DADT. And remember, a treaty requires a two-thirds vote, which means just 34 Republicans can keep it from being ratified.

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    Let's celebrate this victory, but we should keep in mind that the results won't be implemented in the military overnight. We should be patient as the military works to implement the policy in a measured way that minimizes the chances for Tailhook type events. The Right will be looking for opportunities to say "See, this was a mistake because of XYZ event." The military leadership will want to show that they can exercise their leadership and implement the policy with as little disruption as possible - a task they can do. We one the Left need to show support for the military and understanding for the thoughtful and measured implementation of the new policy. Doing so will help the Left in public debate over who are better supporters of the military and national security - the Left or the Right. We know we are, but we have to make sure the public knows it as well.

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    Oregon's two Senators and the "entire Oregon House delegation" but for Walden are Democrats. I don't know why Walden voted against this bill. I know that John McCain was very much against it in principle. Personally, I was always opposed to Clinton's fundamentally contradictory policy. But I would call it shameful to charge Walden with "shameful and disgusting pandering." One thing I know for sure about Greg Walden -- he is honest, honorable and he does not hit below the belt even against his adversaries.

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              " he is honest, honorable and he does not          hit below the belt even against his adversaries."
      

      Perhaps. But apparently he has no problem with discriminating against brave young men and women who want to fight for their country.

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      Voting against the repeal of a basic discriminatory law that is going to make military and our intelligence better, is shameful. Defending Walden on this is senseless, no matter what you think his honesty, or lack thereof.

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        There are honest differences of opinion about that policy, in and out of the military. I defend Walden's character, integrity and his right to do as he or his constituents think best.

        I would call Clinton's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" shameful because either he had/has no core principles, or he violated them.

        I would not call Walden's vote shameful, in any way, but I respect him. Cultural norms evolve over time, often over great and honest debate and argument (and not always even for the best).

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          A predictable hack response. Walden is a bigot like most of your crowd is. Fortunately the bigots are now the minority in this country. Clinton's DADT policy was a step forward from the Draconian dragnet policy of smoking out gays and prosecuting them out of the military. He tried first to eliminate the policy altogether. When he couldn't do that he did the next best thing, DADT.

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            "Your crowd?" Who is my ("unaffilliated voter") crowd? I would much more readily call your post "a predictable hack response." I tried to cast Clinton's DADT policy as the best he could do, but I'm not convinced it was the best of anything.

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          An "honest" adherence to a discriminatory, corosive policy deserves no laurels, Sally. It says a lot about Walden's character and integrity that he would vote this way.

          Between 66-77% (depending on the poll) of Americans are for repealing this policy. I have a pretty tough time believing that Walden's constituents are so outside the bounds of this polling that they support this vote.

          Voting FOR this kind of ugly discrimination is shameful, Sally, no matter how you try to couch it.

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              Clearly. Of course you're not really offering any coherent reason....but then that's the way conservatives roll these days, in general.

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                Fiscal conservative, social liberal, if you please. I could just as (or more) easily say, Carla, that you don't offer any coherent reasoning but rather an attack on personalities. I'm always a hair's breadth away from my last post here, which sadly would probably make you just thrilled.

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                  You could say that, Sally. You could say anything you like. Of course, I've offered polling and I can offer more evidence why Walden's shameful vote is little more than pandering to the worst elements of his party. But you'd simply ignore it.

                  And please, don't martyr your commenting here on my account. Other conservatives manage it here just fine--perhaps the issue lies as much with you as it does with anyone.

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                    You could have argued the position without attacking Greg Walden's character or motivations. That is the only reason I even commented on this thread. And it is entirely unsubstantiated but for your insistence that because he is wrong, he must be dishonest and dishonorable as well.

                    Now that is what I call "shameful."

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                      No, I couldn't have argued this position without attacking Walden's character. It shows a fundamental LACK of character to support policy that is at once discriminatory and not supported by the Pentagon.

                      Not only is it substantiated (as I noted, you'll simply ignore all substantiation), you defend this muck. Not only is Walden shameful for supporting this policy, your comments in defense are stacked directly alongside it.

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                        We finally found something we agree on. We each think the other's position is shameful.

                        And on a second point: that you cannot argue this position without attacking Walden's character, and that I can.

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                          You can argue whatever you like--but there's no parity here. Your position and defense of Walden are untenable and frankly, disgusting.

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                          So you think legal discrimination which also degrades out military is somehow NOT shameful?

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                            I think the word "shameful" is being sorely overused here. I also think there are ways to disagree without being disagreeable. Lastly, I think that celebrating victory without being nasty in the process has a certain nobility to recommend it.

                            As to "discrimination," women are kept out of most direct combat roles, yes? This is discrimination, yes?

                            A conservative social outlook tends to move slowly to change longstanding traditions or practices. That is not in and of itself always a bad thing, and neither is its converse always good.

                            I can regard John McCain's or Greg Walden's views in this light without finding either their opinions or them "disgusting" or "shameful."

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                  For what it's worth, "fiscal conservative, social liberal" is nonsense.

                  Being a "social liberal" is more than being pro-choice or pro-gay-rights. It's also about philosophically supporting government intervention to help those less fortunate -- specifically, spending programs.

                  In its current construct, "fiscal conservative" means philosophical opposition to exactly those sorts of government programs and interventions.

                  You could say, "I'm pro-choice and I'm frugal", but "social liberal and fiscal conservative" is so overbroad as to be a contradiction.

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                    In its current construct, I would suggest that "fiscal conservative, social liberal" is closest to a libertarian position of restraint on the government vis-a-vis spending and personal freedom. It is shorthand to distinguish from the form of Republicanism that constrains individual moral choices and also pretends (or used to?) restrain government spending.

                    All these terms are shorthand, Kari; they are not linguistically or even logically correct -- including common political usage of "choice," "gay" and even your favorite "progressive."

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                      The idea that a "social liberal" would have a "libertarian position of restraint vis-a-vis spending" is utterly absurd.

                      Perhaps we can agree that "social liberal" and "fiscal conservative" are both overly generic and used by so many people to mean so many things - often contradictory - that they have lost all meaning.

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                        With all due respect and seriousness, that's exactly how I feel about a lot of words, almost none more so than "progressive." But I did reflect a bit on what you mean when you say that "social liberal" equates directly with government social spending, which is different than what I intend to "telegraph" by that verbiage so I accept the point.

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      Sally, you say that "John McCain was very much against it in principle." Apparently those principles changed in the last four years:

      "The day that the leadership of the military comes to me and says, 'Senator, we ought to change the policy,' then I think we ought to consider seriously changing it," McCain said in October 2006 to an audience of Iowa State University students.

      http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/02/02/AR2010020202588.html

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    "I would not call Walden's vote shameful, in any way, but I respect him. Cultural norms evolve over time, often over great and honest debate and argument (and not always even for the best)." Sally, if you're using this to excuse Walden's vote, it's bogus. Would you also argue that slavery was just fine back when people thought it was dandy? Sorry, "cultural norms" do not make what is wrong right. No excuses. Discrimination is discrimination regardless of when, where, why, who.

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      I would not argue that slavery was fine because or when the majority supported it, or that the Vietnam War was fine because or when the majority supported it.

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    And just want to add that even if the "cultural norms" argument was acceptable, clearly the cultural norms have evolved, evidenced by the majority of Americans, the military leadership, and troops who support repeal.

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      As I said, cultural norms change over time. In this country, people are allowed to hold dissenting views. More dangerous than an "incorrect view" is the notion that someone is not allowed to hold it.

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        You can hold any view you want, but that doesn't make it a correct view or even a coherent view. We can have "honest differences of opinion" about budget deficits, but denying people fundamental rights is just plain wrong.

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    Joe Lieberman was one of the key players in the repeal. When he announced his support, a whole lot of wavering Democrats and Republicans followed.

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