Despite President Obama’s best efforts to put it on the back burner, the military “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy is proving to be a thorn in his side. After making a public declaration that he intended to repeal it, he faltered, deciding to let officials investigate whether or not the military was ready and giving evasive answers when asked about it. To many, it felt like the whole thing had been lip service in an effort to pacify a community who felt like their President was showing them no support.
And in many ways, this is true. President Obama has been elusive at best in regards to gay rights and the methods used to research “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” haven’t accomplished much. For example, the Department of Defense decided to collect information from service members about their opinion on the matter. They did so via an online survey; the crux was that they had to be logged in to their official DOD account in order to voice an opinion. With the current “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” policy in place, there is little motivation for military members to take an oppositional stance when anyone could know who they were. The fear of repercussion is too high.
Maybe there is more going on behind the scenes than just this; if so, nobody is talking about it.
With November approaching and the potential for the loss of Democratic votes, gay-rights supporters are getting louder and it’s becoming impossible for President Obama to pretend like he can’t hear them. Amidst rallies, blogs, and media coverage, there is no question that the President is being called to action. Loudest of all was U.S. District Judge Virginia Phillips who, on Thursday, ruled “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” unconstitutional. It was a bold move and it said in so many words “your move, Sir.”
It looks as though President Obama is going to have to take a stance once and for all.
As a military wife, I can say without question that there are gay and lesbian soldiers in today’s military and a decent amount of them aren’t going too far out of their way to hide it. Although there are always exceptions, on the whole, it’s fairly accepted. There is something to be said for taking an “it’s none of anyone’s business” stance; however to be required to hide marriages and partnerships is nonsensical and to have any person live in fear of losing their job because of their sexual preference is unconstitutional.
Families are suffering; as it stands, even perfectly legal gay marriages aren’t being acknowledged and a soldier’s family may not be taken care of simply based on gender. To give a specific example, as it stands, a female soldier could marry another woman in Massachusetts and her wife would be denied the same benefits that a heterosexual couple enjoys. Her wife would denied health insurance, deployment separation pay, and housing benefits. Their marriage wouldn’t be acknowledged. If the soldier’s wife had a child from a previous marriage, the child would receive no insurance or other benefits unless he or she was legally adopted by the soldier.
In a situation where all factors were the same except that same soldier instead married a male, this husband would receive immediate health insurance, life insurance, and any existing children he might have would receive the same benefits. Fair? Not really. Both marriages would be acknowledged by their respective states but only one would be recognized by the military.
The argument isn’t so much about the moral rightness or wrongness of homosexual marriage, regardless of where one falls on that side of things, there are families who are being denied benefits and people who live in fear of losing their income for doing something that is completely legal in some states.
With these things in mind, expect there to be some noise on the gay-rights front in the next few weeks, whether President Obama is ready for it or not. The issue is coming to a head and if he is he is serious about gay rights and taking care of gay soldiers and their families, now is the time to prove it.
Referenced: LA Times Ruling on military’s ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy adds to gay rights momentum
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