I work weekends, so I was unable to comment over the weekend as it was a breaking story. As I was a very vocal opponenet of the DADT strategy that was used by the President, I felt I should offer this apology.
I apologize Mr. President.
Mr. President, I have to admit that I had less faith in you with regards to DADT. Your insistence that the only way it could be done relied on the Senate, and I believe we can both agree that the Senate is at best dysfunctional and at worst broken.
In some ways Mr. President this reversal does not effect me. At 38 and overweight I am unlikely to be in the military. From what I can tell my cousin who is in the Navy is straight (though with a child and two failed marriages I don’t know that for sure), and my nephews are too young for me to worry about their sexuality, much less entering the military.
It does effect a community that I have been apart of since for over 20 years. I have now been "out" longer than I ever thought of being "in" a closet. Of course, being flamboyant and non-gender conforming many say I came out when I was born. I don’t remember that, so I can’t really say one way or another.
While I have dated several men who were in the military, most were in before DADT was even a thought (I prefer older men). My husband was in the Navy, but in the early eighties. He wasn’t out then, so it would have been a moot point.
I do know Calpernia Addams (though she probably doesn’t remember me) from the Connection in Nashville. She was also in the Navy. She was part of the medical corpsduring Desert Storm. This wouldn’t have helped her as she is transsexual and would still not be allowed to serve, but I’m sure it means a lot as DADT effected her personally.
When I met her she was a pre-operative transsexual working as a performer at the Connection. She was involved with Barry Winchell, a private in the US Army. At best he would have been discharged from the Army (this was after DADT was implemented). Unfortunately he lost his life to a fellow member of the Army. It probably won’t interest you, but there was a movie, Soldier’s Girl made about it in 2003.
I know you have had a rocky relationship with my community. You had Donnie McClurkin perform during your campaign that openly talks about being "ex-gay." I’m sure to you it is about building coalitions with persons who are different. To me it was about being told I could and should change, and I would imagine it to be as offensive to you if I suggested you could erase the genetic expressions of your mother or your father from you making you "one race."
Rick Warren would be another example of your transition team not understanding the LBGTQI community well. He openly discusses "converting" LBGTQI persons to "normal," has been involved with condom burning (after all, HIV is only a gay disease, even in sub-Saharan Africa), supported Prop 8 in California, and a bill that would make my existence a capital offense in another country. I’m sure you were just told he was a leading pastor of a mega-church, and you were coalition building again.
I am sorry that I didn’t trust you over DADT. My only defense is that I heard you argue about the perfect being the enemy of the good, and yet it seemed that in this case the perfect was always allowed to be the enemy of the good.
From the moment you were inaugurated you had the power through the DADT statute to stop-loss LBG soldiers if they were critical to national security. I am not naïve enough to pretend that ALL soldiers would have met those criteria. I am sure some would though, and at least some would have been spared having their lives and careers disrupted.
There was a bill that included non-discrimination language brought before the House. I guess you felt that was too much of a lift (since there is no non-discrimination language in the current bill), since you had it pulled. Then the bill pulled and made an amendment, since after all the Republicans would never vote against the National Defense
I understand that having been a Senator you trust the others of that body to be men and women of honor and integrity. Unfortunately that isn’t how it works. The Republicans are typically rabid and willing to destroy anyone or anything to obtain and maintain power. My faith that the "moderates" Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe would vote for cloture was low (I am still amazed). They have to know they will be primaried by the Tea Party (who is strong in Maine). Scott Brown (R- MA) was a hope only because he has to know he is endangered in such a liberal state. I’m shocked at Mark Kirk (R- IL) even more than the Maine Senators simply because I cannot imagine him not paying a price being so new to the Senate.
I understand there are prerogatives about the Department of Justice defending laws. However, during litigation over DOMA, did the DoJ really have to compare LBGTQI persons to pedophiles? I know you are not involved in the day to day operations of the DoJ, but can you imagine how it feels to be branded that way when the current President is not just a Democrat (who was supported by the LBGTQI community during the General Election), but by someone who must know the power of words to hurt others.
I get the irony of the Log Cabin Republicans suit against DADT coming up before the Federal courts right before the midterm elections. I even get the irony that they got what they wanted: DADT was overturned. Then your Department of Justice decided to appeal and ask for a stay. "There are Constitutional issues here," we are told. Only if you believe that Congress has the power to legislate discrimination. Only if you believe that there really are more than one class of citizen in the United States, not just as a matter of fact but as a matter of law.
Now the rubber meets the road, Mr. President. This is now a matter of policy, not law. It is up to you and the heads of the Armed Services to make a policy that is fair and equitable to all of the soldiers serving under you. That will allow those who have served at your pleasure without being able to be honest about who they are finally have the honor and honesty that all persons should be allowed. Hopefully that will be enough that the next Republican President (whenever he or she takes office) won’t be able to undo what you and Congress have done.
I cannot say I have faith that this will happen. I don’t pretend to have the power to move you to see my side of the argument. I am going to present it any way.
All of my life since I was aware of what being a homosexual meant (I knew I was different, I just didn’t know exactly how), I knew I was less of a citizen than others. At least it felt that way. I don’t have the luxury of being from a Blue state. In fact, I happen to live in one of the few areas that went more Republican during the 2008 election cycle. I had the privilege of being represented in the House by the one member who switched party affiliations (luckily he was primaried out by the Republicans).
I know what it is like to be fired from a job because the wrong person found out I was gay. I know what it’s like to be in a relationship and be told that it doesn’t meet the requirements for a "real" marriage since neither of us have a vagina and both have a penis. I know what it’s like to know that there can be violence done against me at any time for being honest about who I am.
I don’t even get the luxury of thinking that I can vote to change things. As I said, you not only lost to McCain here, you lost by a greater margin than George W. Bush won. My vote is completely symbolic without having any direct impact.
I am a citizen of the United States of America by birth (just as you are). The rights and priveledges we have should be the same under the law. The way we are treated institutionally should be the same. I know there is still racism, and we have to fight that, especially from our government. There will still be homophobia and heterosexism, no matter what the law says. But now the law doesn't make that a requirement. You can change that.
You are my President. The only one I have. I am served nationally by Mo Brooks (R-Al) in the House and Jeff Sessions (R- AL) and Richard Shelby (R-Al) in the Senate. In case you haven’t figured out, they don’t really speak that well for me.
To those such as Fou, Mallyroyal, Calchala and Joe from Lowell, I am glad you were right in this case. I am glad that the perfect was obtainable and that there is a little more equality in the world. I still don’t have faith, but I do have some hope.
To Clarknt67, Indiemcemopants, Fogcityjohn, Pico, RServen (who I hope can correct any misapplied words towards Calpernia in my diary), and all the others who have worked and fought so hard, thank you. You do on a daily basis what I do when I can, and I am grateful for what you have done.
To President Obama, Speaker Pelosi and Majority Leader Reid, thank you. You made the United States a little better, and helped restore s little bit of hope when I needed it.
Thanks for the rec list!