District Court Judge Virginia Phillips ruled on Thursday, Sept. 9, that the military’s policy of “don’t ask, don’t tell” is unconstitutional. This ruling moves us one step closer to living in the land of equality our forefathers believed in. Will we ever truly be a country free of discrimination? Will we ever learn to accept our fellow Americans for who they are? Unfortunately, the answer is most likely no. Do not mistake my overzealous rhetoric for naïveté. I am fully aware that bigotry will continue to exist in our society. However, the one thing I do know is that as long as biased, religiously influenced laws continue to grasp our legal system, we don’t even have a hope of raising America up to the standards her founders hoped she would be.
With the recent ruling on Prop 8 and now the Riverside court’s ruling on DADT, I’m proud that my home state is in the forefront of the biggest civil rights battle of the 21st century. The reasoning expressed in the court’s opinions for both of these cases clearly states that by prohibiting the LGBT community from the same fundamental human rights the heterosexual community has, we are defying the Constitution’s primary goal. It is shameful that we proudly thank service members, but only as long as they’re straight. Much like love, I believe gratitude cannot be conditional. As citizens, we need to thank every member serving in the military, despite age, race, gender, rank or sexual preference. They choose to risk their life to protect mine and none of the above mentioned list has anything to do with how well one serves their country.
It would be wrong of me not to acknowledge why DADT was enacted in the first place. The logic behind the law is to actually protect closeted LGBT members of the military. It states that the military cannot investigate someone’s sexual background; however, it also prohibits them from speaking openly about it. While I am glad to know that officers cannot harass their recruits about sexual identity, the “we’ll meet you halfway” policy of forcing people to lie about who they are is unacceptable. The land of the law states we are equal. And, in my opinion, the government should not be allowed to bargain with the Constitution.
So what does all of this mean for the LGBT members of the military? Well, it means we still have a long way to go. But at least progress is being made. I specifically relate DADT to my good friend, who was discharged from the navy because of this antiquated policy. He served for two years and everyone, from commanding officers to his fellow enlisted men, knew he was gay. But he never directly said those words to his officer, so he was allowed to serve. After two years, he finally verbalized his sexuality. The result? Honorable discharge, only after receiving eight months of religious counseling from Christian leaders at a base in Norfolk, VA. It isn’t even an option: this must end. The military not only discredits its gay members through this intolerant law, but its straight members as well. It’s time the government stop assuming military personal is too ignorant to handle serving with a gay member and start believing that we all just might be equal after all.
Meghan Maher is a junior English major
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