Exactly one year ago today, the repeal of the military’s discriminatory “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy went into effect. For the first time in history, servicemembers in the United States military could no longer be barred or discharged from service to the country they love because of who they love. As I mentioned last week, contrary to the hysterical anti-gay rhetoric of equality opponents like Arizona Sen. John McCain, DADT repeal has been proven to have absolutely no negative consequences whatsoever to morale and unit cohesion in the American armed forces.
In the ensuing year, the Advocate notes that there have also been an amazing number of firsts for the military, including the first gay wedding (which happened right here at Moose Meadow Lodge in Vermont!), the first time LGBT servicemembers were permitted to march in pride parades while in uniform, and the first general to come out while serving her country. An additional milestone not mentioned by the Advocate is the first LGBT student organization and Pride Week at a military college, a distinction belonging to Vermont’s Norwich University.
However, there is still work to be done in order to achieve full equality for LGBT members of the military. Zack Ford over at ThinkProgress reports:
Still, many questions linger for the LGBT community. As Chris Geidner noted this week, the Defense Department has yet to address same-sex partner benefits for servicemembers. Republicans continue to try to overextend the Defense of Marriage Act’s limitations on the religious liberty of soldiers and chaplains. And despite DADT repeal, people who are transgender are still prohibited from serving their country because the military still deems such identities to be mental disorders. Though a big hurdle was conquered, LGBT people still experience disenfranchisement in the military.
So there you have it. Today’s anniversary of the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” is definitely a milestone worth celebrating. But don’t think, even for a minute, that there isn’t a boatload of work still remaining to be done. Onward!