I could re-run my opening sentence from last month’s Our News column: “Would anyonebelieve that Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell is still an issue ? Yet our major news stories thismonth have been about DADT, and about Prop 8 which also should have been settled bythis time.
The Pentagon’s survey of the armed services personnel about DADT proved without adoubt that a strong majority sees no difficult y in serving beside gay personnel, whichthey all know they have always done. Both Robert Gates, the Defense Secretary,and Mike Mullen, the admiral who chairs the Joint Chiefs of Staff, welcomed thisconfirmation of what they expected. That strong vote for serving openly included viewsthat there might be some initial adjustment problems but those problems could behandled with strong leadership. Among the various services, the Marines are the mosthostile to allowing gays to serve openly. In fact, the Army and the Air Force chiefs ofstill personally oppose lifting the ban. Only the Navy Chief of Staff has not taken thatposition, which I find personally surprising since sailors share the most cramped quarters.Senate majority leader Harry Reid still voices optimism that a vote on DADT could betaken in the Senate during the current lame-duck session in that the new Congress thatwill be sworn in during the first week of January includes many more Republicans andwill probably oppose ending the policy. The House of Representatives has alreadygone on record in favoring dumping DADT. But a new Congress will have to start fromscratch. So one way or another DADT will be with us for some time to come.
As a final point on this matter. Sen McCain has been an embarrassment on this issue. Aswe all know he had originally taken the position that he would go along with whateverthe survey of service members indicated, but since the release of the survey, he hasshamlessly taken exception to every aspect of it. Apparently, he is getting quite a lot ofheat at home for his hypocrisy, as both his wife and daughter have voiced support forending DAAT
The most forceful Senator in favor of ending DADT has been, perhaps surprisingly, Sen.Joseph Liberman, Independent of CT. He has made stirring speeches about the need forequality and justice for gays.
The other matter in the news is the Proposition 8 hearing by a three-judge panel of theU.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in San Francisco.. All expectations arethat, however the hearing turns out, this matter will end up before the U.S. SupremeCourt. Leading the fight to support Proposition 8 is a conservative legal group called theAlliance Defense Fund. As reported here before, the state officials who legally shouldbe defending Prop 8 since it was passed by the voters are Gov. Schwarzennger, andincoming Gov. and still Attorney General, Jerry Brown, both of whom personally opposeProp 8 and have declined to defend it. Hence, the first legal issue now has to do with theproper legal standing of groups that want to uphold the measure. To obtain such a legal standing, someone, or a group, needs to prove that the fact of gay marriage would causethem irreparable harm. As a side issue, one of the judges who is to hear the issue hashad his neutrality questioned because his wife is the executive director of the SouthernCalifornia ACLU which has long campaigned on behalf of the right of gays to marry.. Itis up to the defenders of Prop 8 to convince the courts that the State of California has alegitimate interest in defining marriage as exclusively between a man and a woman.
The State of Illinois has approved legislation allowing civil unions, and the governorof Illinois intends to sign the measure Advocates of this measure have argued thatlegitimizing gay relationships is a growing interest of the public, and not only on thecoasts. There is now quite a patchwork of state support for gay relationships: a handfulof states permit same-sex marriages, civil unions are legal in a couple of states, domesticpartnerships are recognized in all four states on the West Coast, and three states includingHawaii recognize some domestic partnership rights.
As a grim reminder of how brutal life can be for gays, in Kenya. the Prime Minister hasrecommended arresting gays for having sex with one another. Some gays there are nowfearful of coming forward to obtain their HIV medicines. The gay community there iscurrently in a panic.
` sally miller