After the final repeal vote for Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, Senator Burr of North Carolina (R-NC) released an interesting statement. No, he did not personally support repealing DADT but he voted for the repeal anyway because his world was no longer this world. He’s an 80 year old man legislating on the morality of 20-somethings, and his view on the world is no longer their view of the world. The world has moved on.
People forget that the military was integrated by a stroke of a pen by Harry S Truman long before interracial marriages were legal or civil rights passed. The military, stoic and conservative, has always been on the bleeding edge of civil rights for a very simple reason: if you want to serve, here’s a gun. We need bodies, go go go. The military cannot afford to be picky in an all-volunteer army and here they were being told to be picky.
The end result of DADT was 13,000 people given involuntary honorable discharges regardless of their performance. It instituted date rape — sleep with me or else I will claim you’re a lesbian. It fostered an atmosphere of fear when the fear should be those guys over there shooting, not being kicked out for filling in a same-sex name for life insurance benefits.
So first goes the military, and then when the world fails to end, goes everyone else.
What the McCains of the world are railing against and gnashing their teeth and swearing vengence on is not the integration of a small population of the military with the rest of the greater population of the military. They are railing against their world ending. The morals of their generation are passing and the new generation isn’t quite so uptight about things. Generation Xers and the following generations simply do not care about gay or straight or lesbian or bi the same way their forebears did. We have Ellen on daytime TV and Neil Patrick Harris on How I Met Your Mother and gay friends on twitter and on facebook and gay blogs and it’s all out there. As a voting block coming to age and coming to power, we don’t care. It is not an issue for us. Senator Burr was amazingly cognizant of this simple fact: on this issue of Civil Rights, Generation X is just going to wait until the Boomers all die and give the gays integration with the military and eventually gay marriage and universal gay adoption and gay equality. You can either roll your eyes and scream and yell and freak out or move on.
Yay for a victory. It will be interesting to see how the changes are implemented.
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