We hold these truths to be self-evident, that, all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
Our scientists' understanding of the world grows with each passing day, but in the realm of human affairs when we find something seemingly puzzling, I believe we're always safe in reaching back to the wisdom of those who founded this nation. This famous line from the Declaration of Independence is not the law of the land, but it is a clear statement of the principles on which our laws are based.
And this principle and it alone are the basis for any discussion on equality in this country today.
We've always had gay men in military service to this country. The draft made this certain until 1973. The desire to serve our country coupled with the benefits of the leadership training and educational opportunities ensured there were still gay men enlisting after that. The armed forces opened, bit by bit, first for women in combat, and then the institution of Don't Ask/Don't Tell came to be the law of the land.
Don’t Ask/Don't Tell was a step forward for its time, but in the 17 years since its inception, 13,000 gay and lesbian troops have been drummed out of the service because they won’t lie about who they are. We're in the middle of two long ground wars, and today it is an affront to the dignity of those who serve honorably, a hazard to those who remain and fiscal foolishness of the worst sort to kick qualified troops out of the military because of who they love..
DADT dischargees are very often highly trained language specialists, who help spot ambushes before they occur and medical personnel, who have saved the lives of thousands of troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. Sending these men and women packing costs the military an estimated $300 million annually in retraining expenses. No one can say how many more gurneys come off evacuation flights to our hospital in Landstuhl, Germany because the gay linguist wasn't there to translate the captured intelligence of an impending ambush. No one can say how many flag-draped coffins pass through Dover because the lesbian nurse wasn't there to care for the men wounded in the ambush that could have been avoided. And who knows how many of our troops die because the combat-savvy, "squared away" gay non-com or platoon leader was dishonorably discharged simply for being gay,
We need to avoid all of this getting in the way of the pursuit of Life, Liberty, and Happiness by gay and lesbian Americans. And we need the best of our troops to defend those rights for all of us.
Repealing Don't Ask/Don't Tell is a start. Today those who serve honorably return from their overseas duty and resume their role .... as second class citizens. They can be relieved of their post, simply because of whom they love.
The American principle of liberty and equality for all demands this.
Today John McCain kept one promise: he tried filibustering a vote on the repeal of this affront to our military preparedness. I’m hopeful that by the time this diary is posted that vote will have taken place and Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell will be relegated to the darkest recesses of our history. If that isn’t the case, we have John McCain to thank and Arizona can send a message to him and those like him but electing me to serve as the next Senator from Arizona.
UPDATE I was just told that the DADT repeal attempt has failed. It is indeed time to retire McCain.