DADT Ends – Celebrate Open Service for All

The Military Association of Atheists & Freethinkers applauds the recent repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell and the ongoing implementation of that repeal.  MAAF has always supported open service and called out the exclusively sectarian biases keeping gays out.  Presidential, Congressional, and DoD efforts leading up to this day are cause for celebration.  The military’s first Coming Out Day is something we should all look forward to, but as implementation nears, there should be an understanding of the many legal challenges that still loom large. MAAF recommends caution for active duty personnel in coming out. Coming Out cannot be undone, and discrimination will be hard to prove. That having been said, everyone — civilian, active duty, and veterans — should loudly and publicly applaud the repeal of DADT. It’s time that homosexuals feel comfortable and supported and for opponents of gay rights to question their values.

Supporting open service for all does not mean “coming out.”  Post to Facebook.  Tweet. Talk to your friends (if people still speak in person).  Find a parade to march in uniform (as authorized by your local command).  Whatever you do, show your excitement.  As implementation begins officially, only active duty personnel who understand the risks and have a comfort level with their position should come out immediately. Coming out cannot be undone if the military does not follow through or if sectarian political forces start to block enforcement.  But we can all speak up.

When shall we schedule the military’s first Coming Out Day?  October 11th, 2011 might seem to make sense, but there are significant operational and legal challenges anti-gay personnel may bring up, and October 2012 may unfortunately be more realistic.

Internal harassment problems are only the basics. At the federal level, there could be months or years of delays or even re-implementation of DADT from a conservative majority in the Congress. Another concern is blockage at the state level. While the active duty and reserve military components are controlled by the federal government, the National Guard is controlled at the state level. DADT relates to state and federal regulations, housing benefits, veterans benefits, spousal benefits, religious freedoms, and interactions with local national populations during deployments. All of these areas provide legal end-arounds to restrict LGBT rights despite the general repeal of DADT.  (posted at SCA)

Don’t Ask Don’t Tell (DADT) was a policy borne of ignorance (at best) and we can now say good riddance.  DADT hurt the military by forcing honorable service members to either hide their personal life or be removed from service.  Integrity should never be at odds with the sacrifice of military service. After decades of hand-wringing about the impact open service may have on combat power, senior military leaders and respected veterans have finally confirmed that the military is ready to choose integrity over discrimination.