Serving Under Don't Ask Don't Tell, Still A Political Compromise

Why won't President Obama just end Don't Ask Don't Tell's enforcement now? Joe Biden can explain. Meanwhile, a gay soldier writes movingly about what it's like to serve in limbo as the policy debate drags on.

Last night, Rachel Maddow held the Vice President's feet to the fire on his involvement in getting a Senate vote together to repeal Don't Ask Don't Tell. Biden, who said that he firmly opposed the policy, predicted that the Republicans would try to strike the part of the military spending authorization bill containing the repeal or filibuster it, and make themselves look bad in the process, and that the Democrats had 55 Senate votes for a repeal.

Maddow pointed out that even in the best case scenario, the policy would still be in place until the spring. "Why not suspend the discharges of people under the policy now?"

Biden responded, "That's the compromise we basically had to make to get the votes to finally repeal it...In my view, if I could just wave a wand, it would just be flat repeal. No one else would be suspended, and everyone suspended would be able to come back if they wanted to. But the truth of the matter is, we had to build a consensus for this... Everybody's looking for the orderly elimination of this law."

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One of the cruel paradoxes of this policy is that the vast majority of people most affected by it are forced to be silent on the issue. There have, of course, been vocal testimonies from people who were either discharged or resigned in protest, but soldiers who still want to serve are shut out of the debate.

Via The New Republic comes the anonymous, first-person story of one such soldier, who writes lyrically about how despite the camaraderie and bonding that happens in his unit, he's severely constrained both there and at home:

When I return home from a long training event, sometimes I simply want to put on my civvies, step outside with my partner, hand-in-hand, and walk through the neighborhood. Perhaps go for ice cream. I don't. I am forever on the lookout for my fellow soldiers who live in the same neighborhood and may see me going about the same business everyone else does, except that I happen to be with someone of the same gender. When we do go out, I am in a constant state of concern, reminding him not to stand so close or act too much like we enjoy each other's company.

As it stands now, we live in a country that will accept these soldiers dying for their country but not living their lives openly. Honor our troops, indeed.

Confessions of a Gay Soldier [TNR]
Biden, Maddow Talk DADT Repeal [Advocate]