Ed asked me to blog for him for this week and I was honored he asked.
Yesterday was a historic day for the country. It’s also revealing and to some extent befuddling. I was going to publish some observations looking at the roll call and geographical map of the vote results; but I then decided all that can wait for another day. This is an incredible accomplishment for gay rights advocates and the Democratic party. Far more importantly it’s an incredible accomplishment by the GLBT people who serve in the military; they make it so easy for Americans to support their cause and so easy for us to dismiss the arguments of those who advocate gays stay in the closet. I think a celebration is in order – Woo hoo! I hosted a small dinner party last evening and we all drank an extra glass in celebration. OK, it was the excuse we used but we were still giddy!
Following is a breakdown of who voted for repeal or didn’t coupled to a geographical map.
The Senate vote
Rep. Jack Murphy was repeatedly acknowledged for his leadership in the House in making this happen, as was Sen. Joe Lieberman in the Senate. I’ve never been as impressed with any speaker in my lifetime as I am with Nancy Pelosi. She’s had an incredible run of passing legislation that was both consistent with the progressive values of liberals/progressives, and pragmatic enough it made conservatives in the Senate look ridiculous in their [frequently successful] obstructionism.
My Senator Carl Levin did a great job as the relevant Senate Committee Chairman. He provided the Senate, Military, and the Administration with the opportunity to execute a comprehensive process where no stakeholder can rightfully claim the will of the people through their legislature or the military wasn’t provided adequate opportunity to work towards our ‘perfecting the Union’. As harsh a critic as I’ve been on Sen. Reid on his ability to execute strategies, he’s to be commended here for his tactical maneuvers. He was able to exploit the rules and schedule a stand-alone bill to the floor in a weekend lame-duck session; in spite of pressure from the White House whose priorities seemed to rest more on passing the Start II treaty while Republicans sought ways to avoid this vote altogether.
Kudos to President Obama who was able to have it his way, which meant taking what he perceived as the high road of repealing this through Congress rather than through a temporary executive order (as if it would be brought back?) or by court order. I perceive four Justices eager to overturn the orders to end DADT and a possible argument Justice Kagan should recuse herself, getting this done the right way looks prudent in hindsight though arguably too close for comfort. This emergent light at the end of tunnel came twenty-three months after the President was inaugurated, far too slow for many but he got it done; in spite of a lot of skepticism thrown at him by liberals. The President, Sec. Gates, and Joint Chairman Admiral Mullen were able to remove all the military excuses for repeal while liberals coordinated a public relations campaign that resulted in 83% of Americans supporting gays serving openly.
And finally to Rachel Maddow and her relevant guests who all did great work in continuously presenting America with incredible Americans who served our country with honor and in many cases great distinction but were discharged merely because their sexual identification was revealed. I’m sure other media people did the same but I found Ms. Maddow distinguished herself with the impressiveness of some of those discharged under DADT who were guests on her show, some repeatedly. Lt. Col. Victor Fehrenbach was an especially credible witness. Nearly 14,000 service members have been discharged under this atrocious law and her show repeatedly provided a sampling of those who were done such a great injustice simply because we have a legacy of bigotry in this country. Those guests were far more impressive Americans than the bigots I’ve encountered who voted against them in Congress.