Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Finally Repealed

In one of the great civil liberties victories of our age, President Barack Obama this morning signed the formal repeal of the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell — an obnoxious policy of discrimination put into effect under President Bill Clinton. At the time, many of us criticized Clinton for not having the courage to reject discrimination against gays and lesbians — even if we lost the fight on principle. Instead, we have had this insidious and hypocritical policy in place — resulting in the discharge or rejections of thousands of brave citizens. It is now relegated to the dustbin of history with the other discriminatory policies once embraced by our nation.

The battle, however, is not over. Under the DADT policy, servicemembers suspected of being gay were often harassed but could not file complaints. Now, they can. The question will be how the military enforces protections against harassment or hostile work conditions for gays and lesbians. The Obama Administration has two year to put such protections in place — a key challenge since the next Administration may not be as supportive of such rights.

Another challenge could come from the National Guard. Historically, the National Guard was the successor to the militias formed at the beginning of our Republic. They were created as state organizations. With the Vietnam War, the U.S. Army assumed greater control over the state units. Certainly when deployed, they are squarely subject to such policies. Some politicians, however, may try to reassert state authority in preserving DADT on the state level. The federal government has the stronger legal hand under current laws and precedent but it could force a reevaluation on the relative lines of authority between the states and federal government.

The implication for future litigation may be subtle. Notably, the Administration struggled to avoid making this repeal a recognition of constitutional protections for gays and lesbians. The Administration in court fought against claims that sexual orientation should be given the same protections as a category of discrimination as race, religion or even gender. Indeed, in court, the Administration argued to preserve the policy under the claim that gays and lesbians were a danger to unit cohesion.

In the repeal, the Administration largely focused on the sacrifice of these brave men and women — as well as rejecting the discipline and unit cohesion theory. It steadfastly avoided supporting claims that gays and lesbians are entitled to the high level of scrutiny afforded race or the intermediate scrutiny afforded gender.

The repeal will certainly help in the recognition of greater constitutional protections for gays and lesbians. The Supreme Court is a cautious and deliberative institution. It took small steps before accepting a higher level of scrutiny for gender. The repeal puts gays and lesbians on the same legal trajectory in greater recognition of their rights.

This is a wonderful day for civil libertarians. Despite our criticism of Obama for his government’s arguments in federal court, it is also a great victory of him and his legacy. More importantly, it is a great victory for members of Congress — including Republicans who stepped forward to support civil liberties.

Jonathan Turley

Source: LA Times

72 thoughts on “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Finally Repealed”

  1. When three full generations of any civilization accept sexual corruption, it signals the end: the decline and or fall. This is the third generation.

    Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

  2. Actually Buckeye, they have found a way to eliminate the voter- electronic voting machines on the front end and simply ignoring their wishes on the back end. Repeal of DADT was unusual in that a majority of Americans wanted it and Congress actually did it. Contrast that to bank bail-outs and single payer/public option. Just keep throwing the ba$tards out is the best I can come up with.

    I knew you were joshing about Alex Jones but I do check his site out, He’s not as radical as he’s painted on most topics but he does tend to see the world from one viewpoint only. He at least gets off his butt to go out into the field and gathers his own news. I can take him in moderate doses.

  3. LK

    I was being facetious about Alex J. You knew that. 🙂

    Voters CAN turn out politicians that don’t address the issues the voters are interested in. But which good politicians are available to replace them? Few to none until we get finance reform. When will we get finance reform? When we get good politicians. It’s the old Catch-22.

    Until CPP or some other organization makes a dent, campaign finance reform is just a dream. Until then, we might as well rail against a pet not turning against the hand that feeds it.

    I thought maybe Obama had found a way to circumvent the process, and I think he did, pretty much, through the election. And he’s certainly got more of what he wanted done in the first term than most Presidents. But I think even if he doesn’t play the game, and he may be, any help from congress is fast fading with the continuing compilation of wealth in a fewer and fewer hands (and the necessity for more and more cash for campaigns).

    Our only chance for change is if they don’t figure out how to eliminate the need for voters before the voters can figure out how to eliminate the need for them from the process. Voter nullification is being nibbled at around the edges with dubious political organizations and dubious voting machines and SCOTUS inserting itself into the election process, but maybe we can find a way up and out. I doubt I’ll see it, but maybe my family will.

  4. This is from al jazeera: “UN Torture Office Probes Treatment of Alleged US Whistleblower
    Special rapporteur on torture investigates complaint that US army officer suspected of feeding WikiLeaks is mistreated.

    The United Nations is looking into a complaint on behalf of US army private Bradley Manning, who is said to have been mistreated while held since May in American army custody pending trial.”

    I am glad the UN is looking into this, but the fact that the US needs an investigation that should be reserved for 3rd world tin pot dictatorships is just disgusting. Illegal wars, torture, indefinite detention…these aren’t the actions of a govt. who gives a shit about civil rights. They violate civil rights when it suits them, they make a pretend show of supporting them when it suits them, just as they do with the rule of law. This is a really scary country. Justice is of no concern to any of these “leaders”.

  5. Buckeye, We may well be in agreement of who is stands to gain and who is in charge but we disagree on who to rail against to some, SOME, extent. Voters can turn out politicians that don’t address the issues the voters are interested in. We can potentially regulate the corporations that we believe need regulating through politicians. There’s very little we can do about the war profiteers and the corporate warmongers directly. We rail against those persons we might exercise some control over.

    I visit Alex Jones and listen to his stuff now and then; Raw Story is a more general news aggregator, they’re practically MSM.

  6. Gyges

    Sorry, I had a mental picture of a physical battlefield aftermath when reading the word “vultures”. I suppose even avian-type vultures can’t find much left in modern warfare techniques. Not like the old days, eh?

  7. When I was four years of age, there came to me a sequence of three dreams, dreams from which I work up, screaming, in response to what I had learned of war, and the terror(s) of war.

    We lived in Seattle, not all that far from the “floating bridge” that crossed Lake Washington from Seattle to Mercer Island. That bridge became two of the four lanes of Interstate 90; there were two “floating bridges” the last time I was in Seattle.

    In the first dream, I was supposedly supposed to cross a bridge not all that unlike the Seattle to Mercer Island bridge, and I would start out, only to find it impossible to stay on the bridge. After falling into the water, there was always a boat with a rower, who took me back to the end of the bridge from which I had started. No matter how hard I tried to cross the bridge (which symbolized the bridge people cross during the infant-child transition), no matter what effort I put forth (in the dream) it was impossible for me to cross the bridge. In the dream, there was the terror of “being different” and the terror of not being different, and I finally realized, after waking up and having been comforted by my dad, that not being different posed far more future terror for me than my not crossing the bridge to traditional childhood.

    In the second dream, I was a soldier on the front lines in the war. I had been commanded to kill the “enemy” soldiers on the other side of the battle front. But I did not know that the soldiers there really wanted me to kill them. My commanding officer was getting furious with me. A bullet whizzed by, my commanding officer said demanded that my having been shot at meant I needed to shoot back. I repeated that a bullet shot at me did not mean that the soldier shooting at me wanted me to kill him. The next bulled grazed my helmet. The next one knocked my helmet off. The next one grazed my head. My commanding officer was enraged. I said, “How do I know that there isn’t someone like you standing next to that other soldier, telling him the same things you are telling me. And I woke up, screaming as response to the terror(s) of war, my dad came, and comforted me.

    In the third dream, I was a fighter pilot. My duty was to defend my country and myself without harming any other pilot. No matter how I flew the airplane, my duty was impossibly impossible. I woke up, screaming as response to the terror(s) of war, my dad came, and comforted me.

    Impossible dreams for a four-year-old? My parents had the brilliance of compassion to have taken me to movies in which war was depicted. In which the terror(s) of war were depicted.

    If someone is ever to truthfully and accurately understand what war is and what makes it necessary, understanding how to prevent what makes war necessary may lead to war becoming unnecessary.

    Toward that fantasy, I have invested the whole of my life.

    So, methinks, may everyone, each in the way given, always be doing.

    As my parents understood and lived, an unborn fetus is fully a person, as is a newborn baby, and as are all persons regardless of age. I never needed to become a person by transitioning from infant to child to adolescent to adult. I never needed to become a person because it has always been made manifest to me that I am always a person, and never a life form in the process of becoming a person.

    As I cannot be at war with myself, so I cannot be at war with the life it is given to me to live, so I cannot be at war with any other person.

    So I live. So I have always lived.

  8. Buckeye,

    “I would suggest you turn your fire on those who are the greatest cynics and benefit most from any wars,”

    Authoritarians and vultures.

  9. LK

    Buckeye, clarify who it is that has the most to gain from the wars?
    If it’s corporation’s then one must consider that corporations seldom get to declare or fund wars, their political handmaidens do.


    Of course it’s the coporations. The connection between oil companies and arms dealers and the Pentagon is probably obvious to everyone as is the necessity for monies provided by Congress to pursue their objectives.

    It’s only because of the way our political system is set up that Congress has to get involved at all. Like taxes, campaign contributions are a necessary expense in the pursuit of their objectives – more arms sales and continued access to oil.

    And it’s only because of that same political system that voters are required to vote for those in Congress. If they could just eliminate the necessity for voters, it would be so much easier and less expensive.

    Which is why they’ve now come up with the great idea of creating voters (Tea Party) who will almost always vote Republican and get the “right” people in Congress who will do the “right” thing as far as funding the Pentagon who will do the “right” thing by protecting oil rich countries and support the arms dealers at the same time.

    They now have the House and have the Senate tied up with the 60 vote rule. All they need is another Bush/Cheney combo in the White House (SCOTUS is in the bag) to keep coming up with someplace to send the troops (should Af-Pak, Iraq, Korea, NATO and all else fail) and everything’s jake.

    I can’t see much point in railing at who’s in power when the problem is how and why they got there. Obama’s election was a fluke ’cause the natives were restless and will be corrected in 2012. It’s only to be hoped he doesn’t do too much damage till then by getting troops out of Iraq and Afghanistan. If so, we may have to get into Korea again. Mexico is a possibility, but the collateral damage would be messy.

    You should listen to Alex Jones instead of that wimpy Raw Story. 🙂

  10. Here’s what I actually wrote: “Thus it was unjust that gay men and women were unable to serve openly in the military and this law should have been repealed as an ethical and legal matter. This may be said to have advanced the cause of civil rights for lesbian and gay people (depending on how the executive branch implements it).”

    Then I gave an analysis of the situation. At no time have I claimed DADT should not have been repealed (although I will say we don’t actually know if it has been until the executive regulations are in place.)

    There is very little analysis given during reporting in the media. Most reporting consists of a faith based repetition of talking points. I’m putting this possible repeal in its political context instead of giving the faith based talking points rendition of events. I’m hoping if someone disagrees with that analysis and context they will take it on directly. Mike A. did. He laid out his argument and I don’t agree with him. I tried to answer him directly on the points he made.

  11. Buckeye, clarify who it is that has the most to gain from the wars?

    “I would suggest you turn your fire on those who are the greatest cynics and benefit most from any wars, if that is your real objective. If it’s not, you’re doing just fine.”

    If it’s corporation’s then one must consider that corporations seldom get to declare or fund wars, their political handmaidens do.

    This below is either an exception to the rule or the way a government allows contractors to handle political opposition in manageably limited theater’s but both are benefiting from and for the servicing of a larger conflict pursued by the government:

    “Pentagon’s ultra-secretive fuel contractor linked to revolutions in Kyrgyzstan”

  12. Mike A. wrote: “Nonetheless, I view the abolition of DADT to be of historic significance in the field of civil rights.”

    Swarthmore mom wrote: ” If gay people are happy about the repeal, then I am happy about it.”


    “DADT needed to be repealed regardless of the wars.”


    I agree with both of them.

  13. “I would suggest you turn your fire on those who are the greatest cynics and benefit most from any wars, if that is your real objective.” buckeye, that’s what I did in all my posts!

  14. Jill

    “Both Congressional Democrats and President Obama have cynically manipulated all of our population for votes and money.”

    Lucky for the Congressional Republicans that they don’t have to rely on the hoi poloi for campaign contributions, just votes. And now that they have the tea party and 5 SCOTUS members, it’s all good. The T.P.ers will mostly vote for Republicans, Corporate money will pour in and they can continue the wars their patrons benefit from financially. And they have the advantage of not having to watch their sons and daughters, gay or not, get sent to Af-Pak.

    You may be too young to remember Vietnam, but everybody got a chance to participate even though, like now, the largest burden fell on the poorest population.

    I would suggest you turn your fire on those who are the greatest cynics and benefit most from any wars, if that is your real objective. If it’s not, you’re doing just fine.

  15. Let us look at indefinite detention. “Obama’s Liberty Problem: Why Indefinite Detention by Executive Order Should Scare the Hell Out of People

    by Bill Quigley and Vince Warren

    The right to liberty is one of the foundation rights of a free people. The idea that any US President can bypass Congress and bypass the Courts by issuing an Executive Order setting up a new legal system for indefinite detention of people should rightfully scare the hell out of the American people.” (common dreams)

    A Congress or a President who cares about civil rights could not engage in indefinite detention. That’s just one way we know they are being completely cynical and insincere when they claim to have a momentary interest in the civil rights of gay and lesbian men and women. If a person believes in civil rights, they can’t commit heinous violations of civil rights on a massive scale. Congressional Democrats and Republicans, along with this Democratic President and our “judicial” system, obviously don’t have a burning desire for civil rights.

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