As we reflect on the DADT vote in the United States Senate, we must not lose sight of the one central fact of the day. That the American government, in all its glory, voted shamefully to deny their LGBT citizens full equality and freedom. We witnessed the Senate of the United States decide that the rest of Americans have to be protected from us and they must continue to keep us separated from the rest of the country. You can spin it all you want. You can blame this person or that person. You can explain away people who were missing in action, people who voted wrong and a total failure of our leadership over the last two years, it won't change a thing. They voted yet one more time to continue our oppression and status as second class citizens.
There is no way to share with you the sickening feeling I had yesterday as I watched the debate and the vote. The open homophobia and cowardice hiding among the words of 'process and procedure' were a moment of shame for this country. While not surprised at all by the outcome, I found myself just sickened by the thought that they were voting about my friends and me. This was a direct assault on our dignity, our integrity and our freedom. To see it tossed about as a political football was almost too much to bear.
We must learn from this process and we must continue to escalate this fight. This issue has no political ideology and has no home in any Party. The issue is about full equality and freedom and determining if America will live up to its own Constitution.
This much we do know and we must embrace these lessons and grow. We need not learn them in rancor but learn we must or we will repeat once again our own mistakes.
First and foremost, this vote should have taken place last year as many begged our own leadership, our Party and our President to do. Time and time again we pleaded for a vote to take place well before January 1st of this election year. Don't you think we might have had a better shot at Senator Olympia Snowe's vote if the vote had taken place last year before these Tea Party primaries? There is not a doubt in my mind about that. We were told to wait until after Healthcare, to wait until this moment or that moment and that they had a plan and strategy. Many of us were made out to be unreasonable expecting a vote last year and that we were not 'in the know' of what was happening inside the Beltway. After all, they had this big plan and strategy that they would unfold over these two years. Bullshit.
Second, the 'compromise' between the White House and our leaders couldn't have led to worse results. The military, just like in 1993, has taken full advantage of this 'compromise' to use it to organize against DADT. They have used it as a waiting game until a more conservative Congress appears after the elections. The generals know this game well and they have played it well. Even President Obama's new appointment to head the Marine Corps undercut the President on DADT. Don't you think the President could have asked his views on the subject before his appointment?
As a result, we have been subjected to numerous different questionnaires by the military that have done nothing but humiliate this community by their homophobic questioning. The military has used this study period to ask, research and probe into areas that if done to any other group in America would have resulted in total outrage. Imagine this question: "If you are offended by sharing living quarters with an (African-American, Atheist or Jew) should you be allowed to end your service in the military?" Say what? Without a doubt, these questionnaires and focus groups are some of the most offensive actions taken by the Federal government since the days of segregation. And all of this has taken place without a moment of protest from our 'allies in the White House.'
What exactly did we get from this compromise besides allowing the military time to organize against us, the humiliation of these questionnaires and a failed vote on the compromise? What did they give up? Remind me again of what the other side gave up? President Obama's team played right into their hands and they gladly went there to get us off their backs until after the elections. Quite honestly, I am not even sure if Majority Leader Harry Reid would have even scheduled a vote if it wasn't for Lady Gaga. Think of what I just said very carefully.
Third, even if you adore President Obama, the inescapable fact is that he was totally missing in action during this debate. No speeches to the nation about DADT like President Eisenhower, President Kennedy and President Johnson did in the middle of another historic struggle for freedom. Bland press releases and even more tepid statements were all that came from the White House. No calls to the Senate were made by the President. No Senators were called to the White House for a chat with the President. Simply put, this is clearly not a priority issue for the President. He simply doesn't care that much about our struggle. Like it or not, that much is clear. We should expect very little from him voluntarily and know that he will only respond to tough pressure from us.
Finally, we must stop enabling these politicians to play politics with our freedom. People like Senators Snowe, Collins, Lincoln and Pryor must never again receive a penny from us nor should we give to any organization that support them including any Democratic organizations that give to Lincoln and Pryor. We must stop enabling people from beating up on us then telling us how much they care about us. How much longer are we going to explain away their cowardice and failures to rise to a higher standard?
Freedom and equality don't have a political agenda. They don't have an election year. The time for justice is always now and never to be delayed for someone's political agenda. If nothing else hopefully we have learned this much: no more compromises, no more enabling cowards, no more 'understanding what they have to do' and no more weak leadership from our own community. The time has come to toughen up and fight back and I mean fight back, fight back and oh yes, fight back.