Sunday, December 19, 2010

The Repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell"

Normally when the United States Senate defies expectations, it winds up being in a way that disappoints progressives, such as with the jettisoning of the health care public option or the refusal to fund aid to 9/11 First Responders.

This time, though, the surprise was a wonderful one. Despite earlier signs that right-wing obstructionism would triumph and continue to prevent homosexuals from openly serving the in the military, human decency wound up trumping base bigotry; as of yesterday, "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" became a thing of the past.

Adding to liberals' pleasant surprise was the fact that, by all accounts, the Senator most responsible for making this humanitarian dream a reality was none other than the Connecticut statesman who has so often been a thorn in our side, Joseph I. Lieberman. Indeed, much like the legislative body in which he serves, Lieberman has a long history of dropping unwanted bombshells on the left, from his attacks on President Clinton during the impeachment trials and his intransigent support of President Bush's Iraq war strategy to his endorsement of John McCain's presidential campaign and his watering down of President Obama's health care reform bill.

Nevertheless, Lieberman found himself on the right side of history this time. In fact, the statement he recently issued expressing his feelings on this weekend's achievement perfectly sums up my own.

Repealing ‘Don't Ask, Don't Tell’ is the right thing to do whether you're liberal, conservative, Democrat, Republican, or independent. It is the right thing to do for our military and the right thing to do for our country. The sixty-five Senators who voted to correct this injustice showed that we’re still able to come together in a bipartisan way to fight for America’s best interests.

I can think of no better way to end this article than by reflecting on what another Senator of often frustrating independent-mindedness also said about this issue:

Government governs best when it governs least – and stays out of the impossible task of legislating morality. But legislating someone’s version of morality is exactly what we do by perpetuating discrimination against gays.

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