I want to use this space to celebrate a victory for civil rights, a triumph for integrity–the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. I feel choked up at the momentousness of the opening of this door, as countless men and women are now supported to step into the light of whom they really are.
As you probably know, the US Senate voted to repeal DADT over the weekend. DADT is the policy that Bill Clinton’s administration put into place seventeen years ago. Since the House of Representatives already voted to repeal DADT, it now awaits President Obama’s signature.
The brief description of DADT is that you can be gay in the military, so long as you don’t talk about it. Or so long as no one around you pushes the issue. Between 1993 and 2009, 13,389 servicepeople were discharged under the act; a disproportionate number of those were minorities and women, making it clear that racism, sexism and homophobia converged to make DADT another vehicle for harassment. (Stepping outside the furor about DADT, it’s important to remember that, prior to this policy, gays and lesbians were barred from serving in the military at all, undergoing “undesirable discharges” if they managed to enlist but then either came out, or were outed while enlisted.)
As much as we might bemoan the current state of politics and the world, the repeal of DADT is clearly an indicator of humanity’s continuing evolution. While DADT was designed to be a compromise back in 1992, it’s helpful to remember that this policy was created by the administration of a man who was nearly impeached, while tens of millions of dollars were wasted investigating him, because he couldn’t tell the truth about “having sex with that woman.” Integrity was not Bill Clinton’s strong suit, though truly, his level of honesty seemed to fit the time.
Whether or not you agree with Barack Obama’s policies, his integrity is laudable. Over and over, he has stepped in and taken the ultimate responsibility for errors made by his administration. He declared, in his inaugural address, that “those values upon which our success depends — honesty and hard work, courage and fair play, tolerance and curiosity, loyalty and patriotism — these things are old. These things are true. They have been the quiet force of progress throughout our history. What is demanded, then, is a return to these truths.” The repeal of DADT demonstrates that his leadership is taking us in the direction of these values.
I celebrate our country for taking a stand that we can feel in our souls is the right step: To let people live in the dignity of who they really are, without having to hide. Authenticity allows humans to live from our true power. The repeal of DADT is an indicator of an expansion of Americans’ collective consciousness, as we move towards embracing real and total integrity.