ACLU of Massachusetts’ Online Communications Coordinator Danielle Riendeau wrote the following:
After 18 years, it’s finally over. The American military’s discriminatory “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT) policy – which threw out soldiers for being openly gay – was repealed today. There’s still much work to be done – including fighting for fair treatment of those who were discharged under the policy – but it’s worth taking a moment to celebrate a big step forward for LGBT equal rights.
Campy film director (and longtime Provincetown resident) John Waters has a very funny quote about progress in this country: “I thought the privilege of being gay was that you didn’t have to get married or join the Army”. At least in our state, things have changed – and the exclusions Waters’ jokingly calls “privileges” have washed away.
In this victory, I’m reminded of my own local friends who were affected by the policy. In my western Massachusetts college, I knew several LGBT women who were either in ROTC training or enlisted in the armed forces. My roommate’s girlfriend, in fact, was an Army mechanic who had to hide her relationship from all of her coworkers, and she had to keep out of any publicly posted photos, for fear that someone she knew could “out” her to a commanding officer.
I have another friend, a veteran and a happily married heterosexual guy from Lynn, who speaks passionately about the gay and lesbian soldiers he served with, and how disgustingly unfair the policy was to him. He’s since traded in his uniform for an array of Red Sox and Celtics jerseys, and his weapons for Emergency Medical Technician equipment, but I know his heart still goes out to his LGBT brothers and sisters. He’ll be celebrating tonight, for them.
The ACLU of Massachusetts has been fighting discrimination in the military since long before it was part of the national conversation. Back in 1974, when the modern gay rights movement was barely five years old, “the ACLU of Massachusetts filed suit on behalf of two lesbians who were discharged from the military”. Not to brag, but we’ve been active in fighting for LGBT rights well before that – since the 1930s, in fact, so perhaps it’s no surprise.
We still have plenty to fight for – the Federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) still adversely affects legally married same-sex couples in the Commonwealth, and we’re continuing to fight for full Transgender rights. Of course, there’s still the question of any MA LGBT service members kicked out before today, which touches on the subject of today’s earlier On Liberty blog.
But for today, I’m content to be proud of my country and my state, and proud of all of our brave service men and women, LGBT or not, who are now part of a stronger, freer organization. Thank you for your service.