Thursday, May 20, 2010

Repeal DADT, NOW!

I was asked to speak at a Repeal DADT rally last evening. This is a subject close to my heart since I have both served in the USAF as a Chaplain and I have counseled many LGBTQ people who serve in the Armed Forces. I thought of those people and their painful experiences as I stood at the podium last evening.

I was an officer in the USAF when candidate Bill Clinton promised that he would lift the ban on gay and lesbians serving in the US Armed Forces. After he was elected, Clinton made a national Health Care Plan the primary focus of his administration. We were told that we had to wait. Ironically, we did not get a national Health Care Plan and we got DADT (Don’t Ask Don’t Tell).

When candidate Barack Obama ran for the office of President, he promised our community that he would repeal DADT and permit gays and lesbians to serve openly in our Armed Forces. Next week the Senate’s Armed Services Committee will decide if the Repeal of DADT is added to the language of an appropriation bill. Like many in our community, I felt a sense of betrayal when Defense Secretary Gates recommended to the US Senate that they wait until an additional report is completed on December 1, 2010. This would effectively postpone the repeal of DADT until 201l, or later. Why? To avoid this as a political issue at the mid-term elections. Once more, we are asked to wait.

Can you imagine Rahm Emanuel asking Dr. Martin Luther King to wait for Civil Rights Laws to be passed, because of political expediency? Can you imagine Rahm Emanuel asking Gloria Steinem to wait for laws granting equality and legal protection to women and their rights? We have waited 18 years for Civil Rights. We have waited far too long. Justice delayed is justice denied.

What is the cost of this denial of Civil Rights and legal protection to LGBTQ people? In 1999 the Center for Disease Control issued the results of a study entitled “Youth at Risk.” That study found that one third of gay adolescents attempt suicide. ONE THIRD!!! I ask you, the next time you are at a gathering of LGBTQ people to look at the crowd and envision an additional one-third the number of people. Those people are in graves instead of with us today.

To understand why, I ask you to recall that time in your life when you discovered that you were “different.” Remember those feelings of fear that seized you in your youth. Fear that you would be rejected by the people you loved the most in the world, your parents, your family and your friends. The vast majority of LGBTQ people learn how to “pass” in effect to lie about who they are. That deception is a survival skill. It is imposed upon us by society, a society that would punish us not only with verbal and physical abuse, but also with rejection if we were to reveal our true self.

The price of lying about yourself is self-hatred. Not reflected in the CDC’s Youth at Risk Study results are the vast number of LGBTQ people who suffer from alcohol and substance abuse, or those who exist in a chronic state of depression as a result of societal and self-hatred. As an official from the City was speaking yesterday, a silver BMW drove by and the passenger yelled “FAGGOTS.”

Do you want to know what the “Gay Agenda “is? Here it is, Equal Rights and all the protections extended to every other minority group by our government. The Civil Rights legislation of the early 1960’s granted full Civil Rights and legal protection to racial minority groups in our society. Those laws did not end racism; however, they protected racial minorities from housing and employment discrimination. They protected their Civil Rights under law. Today this means the Repeal of DADT and the passage of ENDA.

Last night voters in the Primary Elections sent a message to Washington DC. If you do not vote for us, we will not vote for you! If you do not support us, we will not support you! Malcolm X said, “Civil Rights have never been granted to anyone, you have to take them!”

President Obama, Keep Your Promises! Use the power we gave you to secure justice and Civil Rights, while you still have it!

1 comment:

Joe said...

Notice how Obama wrote that he intended on "changing" the current policy. Nowhere does he state that he intends on repealing DADT.

I voted for Obama in the Democratic primary in my state, even though Clinton won here. It was the first time I ever voted in a primary. Once Obama received the Democratic nomination, I voted for him in the general election.

However, I have COMPLETELY SOURED on Obama. He & his administration have REPEATEDLY OPPOSED our rights. He is not the "fierce advocate" he claimed he was. The look of UTTER CONTEMPT he had for the GetEqual folks in CA was appalling. That was the last straw.

The rest of the Dems are no better. (A point of disclosure - I have never voted Republican in my life.) Reid & Pelosi have tried to punt our issues away after we helped get them the majorities they say they needed to help us.