Gay Soldiers, Free at Last

The military comes out of the closet.

On Saturday, the U.S. Senate, by a vote of 65–31, repealed "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," the bigoted Clinton-era compromise which allowed gay soldiers to serve only if they kept their sexual identity a secret. In spite of the near-supermajority favoring repeal, hard-line conservatives scrambled to portray the historic maneuver as the act of desperate liberals clinging to the final days of a significant partisan advantage. Others, like Georgia Republican Sen. Saxby Chambliss, cited the fact that America is currently at war as a reason not to upend the turnip cart. Balderdash. That's exactly why Congress should have enacted such a policy, as if the simple question of fairness weren't enough (it was). In order to fight on multiple fronts without restarting conscription, the American military has already had to adjust its standards for who is allowed to enlist. Allowing gays to enlist openly only stands to enhance the caliber of the soldiers who defend our country. The bravery of the eight Senate Republicans who voted to strike down DADT is substantial, but pales in comparison to that of the gay men and women who've chosen to serve our country in the face of such a discriminatory policy. Yet make no mistake: Until gay soldiers are granted the full slate of domestic civil rights afforded their straight colleagues, they will still face discrimination in the barracks, same as the out boy at an exurban high school who gets picked on incessantly by homophobic classmates. Things just got better for gays who want to fight for their country abroad, but the fight on the home front is far from over.

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