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December 26, 2008


According to a story at Box Turtle Bulletin today, the Washington publication Roll Call reported that Congressional Democrats are now considering shelving debate on the repeal of "Don't Ask Don't Tell."

The talk is that they're not just thinking of putting it aside for a few months to give the Obama administration and the new congress time to settle-in. That would be almost logical and, to some degree, maybe even acceptable. But no. They seem to want to shelve it for 2 YEARS! That would be after the 2010 midterm elections. By that time, if the Democrats continue in this direction, they may end up not even being the majority - just like they did in 1996. In fact, they may never again be in as strong a position to do this as they will be next year when all of the newly elected minions assume their positions.

Apparently key Democrats, including some openly gay representatives, are afraid of stirring up the same hornet's nest that Clinton caused in 1992 when he tried to open the military to the GLBT community shortly after he took office. As most of you will remember, congress and the military went ballistic and that frenzied homophobia is what created the DADT policy to begin with.

I'm sure that many Democrats blamed their 1996 loss on that debacle. They're wrong. What defeated them is that they had control of the house, the senate and the presidency (like now) but couldn't agree on just about anything and backed down on everything their party was supposed to stand for - defending the little guy and simply doing what's right.

Their logic now is absolutely mind-boggling to me. This is not 1992. This time around, the repeal has the expressed support of Colin Powell, who was then the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and was one of the most outspoken opponents of allowing gays to serve openly. It also has the support of a majority of the country (according to the lastest polls) as well as an impressive number of retired Generals and Admirals who served during those years and were just as opposed to it as Powell used to be.

All of them cite the reality that the country's attitudes have changed significantly since then. They also recognize that the countries that have allowed gays to serve openly in their ranks haven't experienced any of the doomsday effects they had all feared in 1992. They have all said publicly that NOW is the time to reconsider this policy.

What I would say to the Democrats is "tread lightly." The GLBT community spent a lot of time, a lot of manpower and A LOT OF MONEY to help get you elected. And, thanks to Proposition 8, we're a lot more organized and a lot more activist oriented down on the streets now than we were before the election. I haven't seen this much anger, activism and commitment since my involvement with the Gay Activist Alliance in New York in the early 70's.

The fire we all felt then has been reignited today and it's not going to dim anytime soon. In fact, if there isn't the substantial progress our community now expects, that fire is only going to grow hotter and brighter.

I'm hoping they'll come to their senses and reconsider their plans.