Growing up, my mom would tell me, “How do you know you don’t like something if you never try it? Don’t be so quick to push something away because you think you don’t like it or someone told you not to like it.” She usually said this to me as she was setting a plate full of something I had indeed determined to be, not only inedible, but potentially toxic, for dinner. I would either try to find the dog to contraband dinner to or do my best to silently protest dinner (neither of which worked well nor for very long). It wasn’t until later, I think after I discovered Thai food, that I acknowledged my mom’s wisdom. My predetermined refusals had kept me pushing away my plate and missing out on some really good things.
The same might be said of the 31 Senators who decided to vote against repealing Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. 31 Senators who would do well to listen to my mom. 31 Senators who, with their condescending smiles and their meticulously manicured spin on why they voted ‘no’, decided to push away their metaphoric plates. 31 Senators who hide their prejudices and apocalyptic visions of a gay takeover of the United States (think Red Dawn except instead of the Cubans and Russians in camoflauge and machine guns its the Queer Eye cast and women with short haircuts), behind claims of “not wanting to hurt unit cohesion” and “troops haven’t been able to voice their opinion on the matter”. Those 31 Senators must have not gotten the memo on the 70,000 positive answers out of 100,000 military men and women’s responses about repealing DADT. Those 31 Senators so concerned with their troops “thoughts on the matter” had no problem voting to send them into war without ever asking their opinion on the matter. And we are to believe those 31 Senators, who said their ‘no’ vote was in no way influenced by homophobia or lack of appreciation for our gay men and women of the military?
Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) said about DADT, “…if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Well, this isn’t broke, its working very well”. I suppose the same could have been said for slavery, women not being allowed to vote, and the Civil Rights movement. Despite these issues considered “not being broke” to some, changing them obviously made us a better nation.
31 Senators did not vote according to our Constitution. That document those 31 Senators pledged to uphold upon their election to office. They didn’t vote according to the majority of American citizens who mandated DADT be repealed. They simply snubbed their noses and pushed the proverbial plate away based on their own beliefs. Beliefs reinforcing their position of Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness for only those who fall in to strict religious and ideological effigies of their own making.
No one asked these lawmakers to become gay. No one asked them to comment on anyone’s lifestyle. This isn’t even a matter of whether you are gay or straight. All the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell wanted our lawmakers to do is reinforce what this country was founded upon, “That all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights”. Rights the 31 Senators believed played no part in a law that denied American citizens the liberty to talk about who they really are without fear of punishment or discrimination.
With this weekend’s repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, 65 Senators pulled their plates back in front of them and moved this country closer to truly being about “We the People”. We crept closer to becoming that harmonious melting pot of people regardless of race, color, or creed this weekend.
For all the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell stands for, in the end, isn’t it about basic human decency? And what is sad is, those 31 Senators who voted ‘no’, missed being apart of that decency because from the beginning, they never wanted to give it a chance.