Sunday, February 14, 2010

By Anonymous

"This year, I will work with Congress and our military to finally repeal the law that denies gay Americans the right to serve the country they love because of who they are."
–President Barack Obama, State of the Union, January 27, 2010.

President Obama’s recent pledge to repeal the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell (DADT) policy is an overdue promise to address the egalitarian prerogatives he supported as a candidate. But repealing DADT should not be just another item in a list of priorities; this Administration has a moral mandate, as ascribed by the Declaration of Independence, to right this wrong.

The Declaration of Independence states that “all men are created equal.” That Jefferson and the rest of the 2nd Continental Congress found this truth to be “self-evident” implies that certain truths supersede our societal constructions. The laws of the United States slowly creep closer toward an accurate portrayal this notion of equality. Despite the 14th, 19th, and 24th Amendments to the Constitution, more additional reform is required.

Repealing DADT won’t correct the entirety of wrongs that the U.S. Government actively engages in against homosexuals, but this particular measure is achievable, despite the intractability of the Senate. Representatives of both the military and civilian wings of the Department of Defense support the repeal. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mike Mullen testified to this effect before the Senate Armed Services Committee last week. Subsequently, the political calculus in the Senate indicates a successful repeal is possible within the year. Senator John McCain (R-AZ), though hypocritical of late, previously indicated that he would support a DADT policy endorsed by military leadership. Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) indicated that he supports the underlying moral issue of the repeal last week, and newly-elected Senator Scott Brown (R-MA) stated during his campaign that he would consider a repeal endorsed by soldiers “in the field.”

A successful repeal will inevitably rely on the ability to convince reluctant legislators of the net benefit to society of a repeal based on a reasoned weighing of pros and cons. This rational argument neglects the moral implications of DADT and hides behind a realist argument over unit cohesion and troop morale. This argument neglects the inextricable relationship between the United States’ morally charged founding documents: the interpretation of this nation’s founding documents and codified law provides the compelling source of legitimacy for every action U.S. Government takes.

Certainly other important issues face the nation and Obama’s Administration. Prolonged economic depression and inadequate healthcare threaten the livelihood of millions of American citizens, and must be addressed for Obama to maintain political support. But while neglecting unemployment and healthcare constitutes a failure of this Administration to improve conditions for its citizens, repealing DADT would stop the U.S. Government from actively harming its citizenry. The moral precepts in this country’s founding documents indicate that causing harm is worse than failing to prevent it.

Current Deputy Secretary of State Ellen Tauscher introduced legislation one year ago to repeal DADT. She said then: “I would only say that it is always the right time to right a wrong…[a]nd this has been a very big wrong.”

She remains correct today.


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