Local gay rights activists to toast repeal of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell'

Monday, September 19, 2011 at 3:45pm

Nashville gay rights activists are planning to toast the overturn of the U.S. military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy Tuesday night, as the repeal of the controversial President Bill Clinton-era law officially goes into effect. 

Congress and President Barack Obama took action in late 2010 to abolish the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, which prohibits openly gay, lesbian or bisexual citizens from performing military service. 

New measures, allowing gay and lesbian service members to be open about their sexual orientation, become law Tuesday, Sept. 20. The Tennessee Equality Project –– organized to advance gay civil rights –– is hosting a party Tuesday to celebrate the occasion at Nashville’s Canvas on Church Street. The free event begins at 6 p.m. 

On hand will be military servicemen who support the repeal of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.”  

“I have plenty of gay friends in the military,” said 25-year-old Lt. Tim Busch, a Fort Campbell product, who has fought in the war in Afghanistan and plans to attend Tuesday’s event in Nashville. “I know plenty of [gay] military members –– past, present –– who have fought, some who have died. I feel that it’s justice now to say that they’re actually a member of the military.

Busch said the military’s longtime “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy forced gay members into “a closet.” He said the new law allows gay military members to be who they are.  

“It’s not a crime to be a gay,” he said. “It’s not a crime to be lesbian. It’s not a crime to be bisexual. But, it was in the military.” 

In a U.S. Department of Defense press release, Pentagon press secretary George Little said the department is ready for the repeal. He said nearly all service members have taken training associated with the overturning of the law.  

Chris Sanders, chairman of the Tennessee Equality Project’s Nashville chapter, said the repeal of "Don’t Ask Don’t Tell" offers something to celebrate considering Tennessee’s track record with the gay community. During the most recent legislative session, for example, Gov. Bill Haslam signed into law a bill that nullified Metro’s nondiscrimination policy that pertained to city contractors. 

“Given the political climate in Tennessee, we get very few victories,” Sanders said. “This is a victory for all of us in the United States, and it certainly affects many people in Tennessee who either are currently serving or would like to serve one day.”  

16 Comments on this post:

By: pswindle on 9/19/11 at 3:55

Congratulations! It is about time.

By: Redbarron06 on 9/20/11 at 5:55

This is nothing other than another attack on the military from a diffirent angle. Sexual orentation should not be an issue but the homos and liberals have brought it to the front line and they will pay with tax money because they have. In the mean time gays are still going to be astranged and as long as their sexual preference is their main concern they will be nothing more than tools for the left.

By: bartsdad on 9/20/11 at 7:47

muddling through the incoherent and misspelled post above...solidifies in my mind that this action is way past due. Bringing the military into the 21st century and making people's personal lives a non-issue in reference to their service to their country. I salute all members of the military...ALL members.

By: Liason06 on 9/20/11 at 8:03

Hey Redbarron06,
You've posted several comments today. They are so pourly written that I think they speak for themselves. Uneducated moralists and theocrats like you are the reasons why diversity on the council and events like the one described in this article are causes for celebration.

By: yogiman on 9/20/11 at 8:12

Your sexual life is no one's business but your own. Your sexual activities should be kept behind closed doors. How many "normal" GIs people are going to be proud to claim a homosexual as a friend?

Who in the hell is interested in a homosexual's desires except their "partner"

To you young people who have not served in our military; gays have been in service since the military was formed. They kept their private lives to themselves... as did the "normal" people.

By: global_citizen on 9/20/11 at 8:22

Redbarron, get your head out of your talk radio talking points. This is not an attack on our military in any way. It's a long overdue means of giving honor and dignity to those men and women who are brave enough and honorable enough to volunteer to serve our nation in its military who also happen to be gay/lesbian.

I realize some people can't help but see everything through the lens of some concocted culture war. But it doesn't mean you aren't delusional.

By: Redbarron06 on 9/20/11 at 8:50

My head is not stuck in radio talking points, it is right here under my ACU hat where it has been since 2005, before that under my beret, before that under my BDU and DCU hat since 88. I honor all that want to put on boots and stand next to me for defense of out nation but when they want to put their sexual devation above why they put the uniform on they cause a distration to the mission, its lowers moral and unit cohesion. It detracts from the mission.

The fact of the matter is that DADT was by far the best policy out there. Before that it was actually illegal for a gay person to enlist and many became criminals by falsifying documentation to get in. DADT allowed them to serve while keeping sexual orentation out of the spotlight where it did not need to be. Only when they choose to make a issue out of it they were removed from service.

As far as me being a "moralist", if believing that there is a absolute right and wrong is a bad thing then I guess I'll just have to live with that. Everything is not open to the changing interpretation of the latest fad of the week.

By: global_citizen on 9/20/11 at 9:30

"The fact of the matter is that DADT was by far the best policy out there."

I think history will soon prove you wrong.

DADT allowed them to serve while keeping sexual orentation out of the spotlight where it did not need to be. Only when they choose to make a issue out of it they were removed from service.

Again, wrong. There are countless numbers of people who were "outed" and discharged though they tried to keep their orientation a secret. What many don't remember is that DADT was actually "Don't Ask, Don't Tell, Don't Pursue". That last part was forgotten as many superior officers with an ax to grind pursued rooting out gay personnel. And whether that person tried to keep it a secret was irrelevant. Once it was known, discharge proceedings commenced.

"As far as me being a "moralist", if believing that there is a absolute right and wrong is a bad thing then I guess I'll just have to live with that. Everything is not open to the changing interpretation of the latest fad of the week."

Well, that's an all too common canard of curmudgeonly conservatives, but the fact is as the moral climate has progressed, things have gotten better in America, not worse. Women now have the right to vote, blacks have an equal place at the lunch counter as whites, and most people feel a sense of outrage when a young gay man is lashed to a fence and beaten to death.

I predict the repeal of DADT will be much ado about nothing. The military and the men and women serving today will adapt just fine. And there will always be people like who say it signals the end of everything that's good about America, when in reality it's a new beginning for a better era in America. God bless equality and civility.

By: Liason06 on 9/20/11 at 10:28

Well said global_citizen. Redbarron06, earlier, you defined yourself as a "constitutionalist." As I understand the constitution, it is a governance document drafted by a free people in order to preserve freedom and justice for all. It is not a religious code of conduct or beliefs. As I read your stated beliefs on governance they appear to align with a religious viewpoint as opposed to a constitutional governance viewpoint. Sadly, this confusion has gone viral in arena of American politics. In fact, moralists and theocrats exploit the confusion for thier own benefit. The result is weakness instead of strength and repression instead of freedom. Embrace the religious beliefs of your choice. But please, do not make the mistake of insisting that your country govern on those beliefs. Your country (my country) must govern on the beliefs expressed in our constitution.

By: yogiman on 9/20/11 at 10:47

As the old saying goes, global_citizen; time will tell. So, what happens when the "queers" become the military of our country?

As a veteran who enlisted in 1948, I know what it was like back then. We have "queers" in service and they kept it to themselves. If they were "caught" or their "attitude" was found out, they were discharged with a 'general' discharge. It wasn't a dishonorable discharge.

I remember several men back then that "claimed" to be homosexual because they wanted a discharge. Well.., they were taken into the "back" room and made an offer. They all just ranback out the door and went back to their barracks.

Bill Clinton got the DADT bill passed. They had no fear of being discharged if caught after that. But as the bill required: Don't Ask and Don't Tell.

Why not keep that bill intact? Why parade them in public?

By: 4real on 9/20/11 at 12:06

Let's please keep this in perspective.

Redbarron06 actually makes a good point in telling us that before DADT, there really was no defense for out gay people hoping to serve in the military because of an active ban on homosexuals. You simply checked a box claiming you were a homosexual, or were asked by an officer, and were discharged if you answered yes.

Therefore, DADT was seen by some as a peace-keeping, bipartisan measure because it allowed gay people to serve at the expense of their freedom of speech.

What would have been a smarter choice of course, would just have been to remove the ban altogether, but that's where the partisan politics come in.

To yogiman and anyone else who thinks DADT only restricts the icky gay sex coded by the military as "homosexual conduct":

It's not true. The actual problem of DADT is that it doesn't JUST prevent "homosexual conduct" , but prohibits "any homosexual or bisexual person from disclosing his or her sexual orientation or from speaking about any homosexual relationships."

So if someone casually asked you what you did this weekend or who was back home watching your kids, and you're straight, well, that shouldn't be so hard to answer.

But if you're gay, better make something up or be discharged for giving any domestic details about your consensual relationship with another human being.

The whole "weakening cohesion" argument is a red herring, since no intelligent gay person would put themselves through the same gauntlet of tests and training as a straight person simply to half-ass it or willingly try to bring down unit morale once they were deployed.

The thing that I don't understand, which admittedly takes a steep dive into politics, is that all the things that many conservatives praise as "family values" -- serving one's country, getting married, taking care of one's spouse and children -- are kept out of the reach of most gay people, for no real reason.

"So, what happens when the "queers" become the military of our country?"

Hopefully, yogiman, the age-old prejudices will die off and we can begin to see our fellow Americans as full-fledged people.

By: global_citizen on 9/20/11 at 1:13

"So, what happens when the "queers" become the military of our country?"

I'm not sure I understand your question. Do you mean to say you think gays might become the majority of the military? If so, I question your sanity.

Or do you mean what happens when gays and lesbians are serving openly without secrets? Well, that's the point. And judging by the utter absence of chaos in the military of Great Britain, Australia, and Israel - just a few of the nations to allow gays and lesbians in the military - nothing happens. Life goes on. Everyone gets over it and gets the job done. And this whole distraction of rooting the gays out of the military can finally be a non-issue.

By: yogiman on 9/20/11 at 3:57

May I ask a personal question to you young "straight" people: Both of you boys and girls. If you are married, do you go about in public boasting about your sexual activities with your spouse? If you aren't married, do you boast about your activities with your "lover" in public? Okay, I know, there is a certain number of sexual "braggers" in this world, but just how many true lovers "show" it in public?
.

By: global_citizen on 9/20/11 at 4:34

Yogi, it's hard to take you seriously. Actually, we can't take you seriously. Your questions are based on false premises and falsehoods.

Are you saying that most gay people foist tales of their sexual experiences on unsuspecting and unwilling audiences? I don't know where you hang out, but I've never been subjected to anything like that.

"just how many true lovers "show" it in public?"

What, with things like a wedding ring? A picture of family on the desk? Holding hands in public? Or putting an arm around the shoulders in public? Maybe even a quick peck on the cheek?

In that case the answer is, just about everyone.

By: yogiman on 9/20/11 at 9:58

No, global_citizen,

My questions are based on experience. I have known many people in my life and a number of them were "gays". They used to be pretty quiet about their favor. There was a few taverns that only gays patronized, and yes, they were pretty open in there.

That's why I always turned around and went back out the door when I went in one.

Your views are based on inexperience.

By: yogiman on 9/20/11 at 10:08

Liason06,

Me thinks you should learn to spell for you to edit someone in a benign way. Or did you actually mean pourly instead of poorly?