Do Ask, Don’t Tell

The White House has pulled quite a bait and switch on the LGBT community.

LGBT voters came out and contributed en masse to Barack Obama’s campaign. A year ago, he promised them action on among other things, repeal of the military’s discrimination policy, Don’t ask Don’t Tell. This May it seemed as if they’d won. To much ballyhoo (on the eve of a war appropriation vote) the White House announced what sounded like repeal.

“Now half the LGBT community thinks Don’t Ask Don’t Tell is already repealed,” Miriam Perez of Feministing told us.

Except what the President actually announced wasn’t repeal. It was a compromise that opened the way for a vote on repeal if a Pentagon working group, the President, the Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs all approved such a thing.

Now it turns out that 400,000 service members are going to have their say as well.

As the jobless go with nothing and school libraries are shut up tight for lack of cash, we, the taxpayers have, it turns out, paid a research firm some $4.4 million to send an email-survey to 400,000 troops.

Leaked copies include the following questions: “If a wartime situation made it necessary for you to share a room, berth or field tent with someone you believe to be a gay or lesbian service member, what are you likely to do?” (The survey offers options.) “If Don’t Ask Don’t Tell is repealed and you are assigned to bathroom facilities with open bay showers with a gay or lesbian service member, would you: Take no action? Use shower at different time?” There’s also a question asking service members, if a gay or lesbian member moved into military housing with a same-sex partner, would they pick up their family and move out.

There’s no question about how troops feel about serving under Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. And — no question, this is a first.

No one surveyed the troops when it was time to desegregate. No one surveyed male soldiers about allowing women in. When it came to school desegregation, the Supreme Court didn’t survey white kids. In fact it’s impossible to imagine such a thing.

About as impossible as imagining that LGBT campaign contributors will be doling out much cash to Democratic candidates this fall.

WORDS THAT STICK

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Laura Flanders interviews forward-thinking people about the key questions of our time on The Laura Flanders Show, a nationally syndicated radio and television program also available as a podcast. A contributing writer to The Nation, Flanders is also the author of six books, including The New York Times best-seller, BUSHWOMEN: Tales of a Cynical Species.  She is the recipient of a 2019 Izzy Award for excellence in independent journalism, the Pat Mitchell Lifetime Achievement Award for advancing women’s and girls’ visibility in media and a 2020 Lannan Cultural Freedom Fellowship for her reporting and advocacy for public media. lauraflanders.org

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