President Obama signed the Don't Ask, Don't Tell repeal today. It is law. This is a wonderful day.
There is one thing that has bothered me throughout this entire battle. DADT has been seen as a discriminatory, evil piece of legislation. And yes, it was discriminatory. I am beyond excited that it is no more. I have many gay friends who are currently serving in the military and I have been following this fight, doing what I can, since the beginning. However, at the time it was first implemented Don't Ask Don't Tell was supported by the gay community. It was essential to our well-being.
During World War II if a psychiatrist examined a member of the military and determined they were homosexual they could be court-martialed, imprisoned and dishonorably discharged. Homosexuals could be committed to military prisons. It could be included in initial questioning on military applications. "Name, Address, Age, Have you ever participated in sodomy?" When Clinton became president he planned to make it legal for gays to serve, however he could not get the support required so he compromised on DADT. Compromise has built this country. Compromise is what democracy is built on.
DADT was enacted in support of homosexual rights and freedoms. Throughout history we have compromised. That is the only way a democracy can survive. When determining the distribution of taxes and such the government of 1787 compromised on 3/5 of slaves counting toward the population. Only 3/5 of a black person was actually considered human. The state of Maine exists because of something called the Missouri Compromise which was based around legalization of slavery. DADT was another compromise in our history. A compromise that was completely necessary for the safety of our gay military personel. I am proud to live in a country where DADT is considered a bad thing. I am proud that we have progressed so much in the last two decades that it is no longer a necessary compromise. However, when looking at things like gay marriage and religious rights I believe it is important to remember the history of DADT. In a few short years many will wonder what the big deal was. Why didn't we always allow gays in the military? Why didn't women always have the right to vote? Why were we ever concerned with a white man marrying a black woman? Why was slavery ever legal? And we'll be facing another civil rights battle, feeling as though things will never change. This is proof. Things can change.
I was on cloud 9 as I watched Obama pick up that pen. I am beyond excited that this piece of history is finally just that... history. But I feel as though in order to get this repeal people have forgotten the important role DADT served. DADT made it possible for thousands upon thousands of people to be in the military that never could have been before. DADT was good legislation. It was the best we could do. It was like a baby blanket, essential to us as children. But now we have grown past it. We should be proud that we had a policy like DADT, and prouder still that we have been able to pack it in the closet with the rest of our childhood toys.