Although the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” is an undeniably momentous victory for the LGBT community, it got me thinking about something even bigger. It got me thinking about what a great victory the repeal is for all Americans. While it is amazing that gays and lesbians already serving in our military can do so without fear of reprisal, and while LGBT members are now allowed to pursue an opportunity once considered off-limits, this is a huge step forward for our nation as a whole.
Martin Luther King Jr. once stated that we “must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.” We live in a nation that often takes a long, long time to set itself right. Nevertheless, despite the fact that it took us centuries and a civil war to recognize that African Americans are no different than whites, despite the fact that it took us a long time to recognize that women are just as capable as men, and despite the fact that it has taken us a long time to realize that gays and lesbians are just as patriotic and willing to serve their country, we have done the right thing. We are learning to live together as brothers (and sisters), and for this, I am proud of my country.
Lately, I’ve found myself spending so much time worrying about or nation’s destiny. From the relentless partisan bickering, to the economic mess, to our seemingly never-ending entanglement in foreign wars, it easy to look at what is not working. It is easy to think we are on a collision course with history. But this action restores my faith in the notion that America always steers itself back in the right direction. In seeing my country right past wrongs, it makes all my current fears dissipate. I have renewed faith that, in time, all these other issues will be sorted out as well.
Of course, there is a lot of anxiety about how to implement the new military policy. The issues won’t be settled overnight, and there will be a period of adjustment. The issue of integrating schools in the 1960’s took time, but we sorted it out nevertheless. The issue of integrating gays and lesbians into the military is just an issue of logistics at this point, the difficult part is over.
While we at dot429 already know how many talented, hard-working and patriotic LGBT Americans are out there, America has given itself the opportunity to embrace a whole new demographic of its population. We see these people every day, we work with them, we interact with them. I am so proud that our country will now see their talents as well.
I leave you by invoking one more thought from the great MLK. He envisioned a day when people would be “judged not by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.” We live in an age where his famous dream is now a reality. We also live in age where America is becoming more interested in the content of OUR character than they are with our sexual orientation. As a gay American, my gratitude for the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” is twofold. I am grateful that the LGBT community has the chance to show the nation our greatness. I am also grateful that America has given us this opportunity!