It's nice to know who our "friends" are, I suppose, and who would prefer that we be shot down for holding hands in public in America rather than defending our country in uniform somewhere else. But I have to ask: Why is this the issue on which Democrats have decided to unite in our favor?
I know, I know--the ability to serve in the country's military is a cherished opportunity to serve. But shouldn't the nation deserve our defense before we rise to provide it? It's all well and good that Democrats have finally decided that a gay man or lesbian is fit to defend the country. But why should we decide to do so?
They've put things in the wrong order. The first step to first-class citizenship isn't being offered the chance to take a bullet for the team. It's being made an equal member of the team, one who can't be fired from a job, military or civilian, simply for being gay. It's being offered the same rights and privileges as other Americans, including the right to form a lasting relationship that the government will recognize. It's knowing that if you leave a partner behind when you serve, he or she will receive the same benefits as anyone else's left-behind spouse, both while you're overseas and in the unfortunate event of your death. Until these basic rights are guaranteed, I don't care whether we're asking or telling: I am telling you, I am not going. And neither should other gays and lesbians. When a Democrat brings forward serious legislation to end don't ask, don't tell, he or she should, at the very least, include:
- a repeal of the provision of the Defense of Marriage Act that forbids the federal government to recognize gay marriages, along with a requirement that it recognize any marriage or marriage-like institution into which states allow their citizens to enter, and apply that recognition to the tax system, Social Security, etc.;
- the full provisions of the employment non-discrimination act, with protections for housing as well;
- hate-crime language that makes gays and lesbians a protected class along with racial minorities;
- and language that would create parity between the immigration law for same and opposite sex couples.