Wednesday, February 3, 2010

The Republican Party and DADT

The way some members of the Republican Party have dealt with Don't Ask, Don't Tell has been, to say the least, interesting.  Let's focus on a few of them.

1. Colin Powell.  All right, we don't really know what party he belongs to.  But he was Secretary of State under George Bush.  Powell recently came out for the repeal of DADT.  This is a very good thing.  In his announcement that LGBT people should be able to serve in the military, he said that times have changed.  What I have some difficulty with is knowing that for many of us, times have not changed.  The views of people like Powell have.  There were many, many people telling Powell that his DADT policy in 1993 demeaned a group of Americans.  Remember, Powell was one of the major opponents of LGBT people serving openly.  I am extremely glad that he has changed his mind.  But where's the apology, Mr. Powell?  Where's the acknowledgment that you were wrong?  If and when someone like Mitt Romney recognizes that same-sex couples deserve marriage rights, should we be elated?  Should we be grateful that he has finally seen that equality is an American value?  Or should we also remember that some very brave politicians like Deval Patrick -- Romney successor -- stood on the right side of history and that Mr. Romney wasn't one of them?

2. Senator Jeff Sessions.  After Admiral Mike Mullens movingly testified before a Senate panel on why he thought DADT should be repealed, Senator Jeff Sessions castigated him for expressing his personal views on the subject.  Sessions is from the same party that for years used military leaders' opinions as a basis for opposing LGBT people openly serving.  Joe "You Lie" Wilson has gone so far as to say that even if the military supports the repeal of DADT, he and other members will oppose the repeal.  These are the same folks who have relied on the military support of DADT to explain their own bigotry for years.

3. Senator-Elect Scott Brown.  Once upon a time, Scott Brown was opposed to repealing DADT and vehemently opposed to same-sex marriage.  Now that he's been elected senator from Massachusetts (still a progressive state despite his election), he had modulated a bit.  Actually, he has pretty much relinquished any responsibility for leadership in these areas.  DADT?  Leave it to the military.  Same-sex marriage? Leave to the states.  Sometime soon Senator-elect Brown is going to have to make a serious decision on a social issue.  Then we'll know whether he takes the Mitt Romney route and moves to the right, or represents his home state of Massachusetts.

4. Senator Orin Hatch. Okay.  I admit that I have always had a tiny soft spot for Senator Hatch knowing that he was such a close friend of Ted Kennedy.  Perhaps Kennedy's sense of justice has touched Hatch.  While he refused to take a stand on the repeal of DADT, he made it clear that he at least understood why it is so degrading.  His interview with Andrea Mitchell was confusing, but had glimmers of hope.. Let's hope he comes to some clarity soon.

5. Senator John McCain. Here's a quote from Senator McCain as cited by the Washington Post. 
 ...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 because those leaders in the military are the ones we give the responsibility to.
Well, Senator McCain, that happened at the senate hearings this week.  Why are you still sticking to your DADT guns?

Let me end by citing a new poll taken of Republicans.  Only 24% of Republicans feel LGBT people should serve in the military. This muddies the water even more, doesn't it?

Even scarier?  73% believe LGBT people shouldn't teach children.

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