It’s Time for Gay Servicemembers to Tell

Today, Republicans in the Senate, led by John “Called His Wife A Cunt” McCain, staged a filibuster against the Defense Authorization Bill because it includes the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell repeal compromise that passed in the House earlier this year.

Senate Republicans sunk the bill, but Democrats weren’t much help in the fight against civil rights either. President Obama was completely absent from the push, while Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid reportedly lost several hard-won Republican votes with his political maneuvers. (This isn’t sour grapes, by the way. Word got out about the lost votes last night.)


Here’s what I’ve (re-)learned today: We can’t count on straight people to do the right thing. It’s one of the paradoxes that go along with being an extreme minority: We don’t have the numbers to bring change on our own and they don’t care enough to bring about change on their own.

So I’m going to make a suggestion, one that big advocacy groups like the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network have actively advised against. My suggestion is for our LGB military servicemembers.

It’s time to tell, and it’s time tell it LOUD. Your oath to protect and defend the Constitution demands nothing less. For far too long, the United States government has been robbing you of your dignity, and it’s time to take it back.

photo by Jeff Sheng
photo by Jeff Sheng

I know, I know. It’s easy for me to say. You’re totally right. But so am I. John “Called His Wife A Cunt” McCain has proved to us once again that the mostly white old men in Congress will not allow you to claim the same freedom that you defend every day.

There are some 65,000 of you serving in silence today. That’s three times the working population of The Pentagon. Maybe when they stand to lose that many servicemembers in one fell swoop, they’ll be willing to address the clear hypocrisy of forcing servicemembers to lie in order to be considered honorable.

Don’t Ask Don’t Tell won’t go away until you make it go away, and we can’t wait any longer. It’s hurting our children and it’s hurting you.

You are called to protect your country with every tool at your disposal, and as every LGBT person knows, truth is the ultimate tool.

It’s time to stop asking for civil rights. It’s time to tell.