Don't Ask Don't Tell Is Dead. I Didn't Think It Would Happen.
This weekend I should have bought a lottery ticket. I saw things I never thought I'd see. First, I finally got to see the Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center. Then, my son cleaned his room. Oh and then the Senate voted to repeal Don't Ask Don't Tell.
I didn't think it would happen.
Yes, earlier this year the House voted to end DADT. Yes, lots of people in the military and civilian world came out against DADT, including the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Secretary of Defense. Heck, Lady Gaga even came out fighting in favor of repeal in a way only the high priestess of the Litlle Monsters could do.
But I still didn't think repeal would happen. The Department of Justice was still actively fighting the case brought against DADT in federal court in California, and I predicted before the November elections that the Senate would lose its chance (and its motivation) to follow up the House's vote if it didn't act before November. I was wrong.
Unlike half of the military and political worlds, I wasn't watching the Senate vote on C-Span on Saturday. I had just come home from a whirlwind trip to New York for work and was lounging in bed perusing Twitter, when I saw this:
I have to admit I never thought I'd see the Senate Majority Leader tweeting a pop star, but Senator Reid's tweet heard round the world was only the begining of the online revelry. Lady Gaga followed it up with tears and pride:
All across the interwebs, people celebrated the end of DADT:
But not just the "liberal left" is embracing the repeal of DADT.
Noted military spouse and writer Lily Burana had this to say:
Paul Rieckhoff, noted activist for veterans and service members and founder of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America chimed in:
And a man I admire so much, Admiral Mike Mullen, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, who works tirelessly as an advocate for our troops, summed it up perfectly:
But let's not pretend that all of this is the end of inequality for gays in the military. Gays will be able to serve openly, but their partners still won't be given the benefits enjoyed by straight couples. The partners of gay service members won't be entitled to medical benefits, death benefits, educational benefits, etc... Sexual orientation still won't be considered a protected class like race, sex or religion. Military or civilian, in most of the country, gays still can't marry.
Yes, the end of Don't Ask Don't Tell is an important victory. Let's pop the champagne and have a glass along with Lady Gaga and Senator Reid. But after that, let's sweep up all the confetti, load the glasses into the dishwasher and get back to work!
Stephanie Himel-Nelson is a lawyer, a military family member and an advocate for military families. She blogs at Lawyer Mama.
Stephanie would also like to remind everyone that the opinions she expresses here are hers and hers alone. They are not representative of any organization with which she is affiliated.