Melissa Harris-Lacewell in The Nation with a passionately simple and irrefutable argument for repealing DADT:
Military service is at the heart of citizenship.
The implied social contract that binds a nation to her people is most fully realized in two primary acts: tax paying and military service. Those who labor and pay a portion of their income to the government have a particularly strong claim on government services and recognition. Those who willingly risk their lives to protect the borders and the ideals of their country also have a thick claim on citizenship.
This is why the armed forces have historically been the terrain on which marginal groups have sought full inclusion into the American project.
Enslaved men who escaped to freedom behind Union lines demanded the right to fight as soldiers against the Confederacy. President Lincoln's reluctance to arm these black men was rooted not only in his deep racial prejudices, but also in his concern that their service would give legitimate claims on equality. After the Civil War, Lincoln himself came to support the franchise for freedmen who had served in his army. In fact, his public declaration that black soldiers should have the vote precipitated his assassination.
American historians have argued that we must locate the initial impulse of the mid-century Civil Rights Movement in the radicalizing effect that WWII battles against Nazi Germany had on black soldiers. Unwilling to accept segregated service in a war against genocide and imperialism, these soldiers were unwilling to accept Jim Crow and racial violence at home.
Similar stories can be told about European immigrants who became fully American through their initial inclusion in the armed services. It can be told about young people who used their service in Vietnam to win an extension on the right to vote to 18-21 year olds. It can be told about women who moved from support roles to combat duty even as they shattered glass ceilings back home in the states.
Gay soldiers are part of this long history. Their open and unfettered participation in America's armed services is a necessary part of the struggle for full inclusion in America. When gay men and lesbians can openly and proudly point to their sacrifices for our country then they can call upon our country for full first-class citizenship.
Let's end DADT during Black History Month. President Obama's presence in the White House was made possible by the broken bodies of black soldiers who believed and sacrificed for a country that shackled and segregated them. They willingly bled for this country and with that blood they bought for all of us a country where a black man could be president.
Today gay soldiers fight and die with the same hope. They too believe in America even though our country does not protect them in Civil Rights legislation, even though our country withholds marriage equality, even though our country is marred by anti-gay violence: still they believe. It is an astonishing kind of hope. It is the kind of inspiring hope that has made every great American success possible.
I know there are African Americans who bristle at the inclusion of LGBT equality as part of the long Civil Rights struggle. I've frequently heard black activists argue that gay identity is not like racial identity, because sexual identity can be hidden. This is a foolish argument.
The closet is not a privilege. Nothing reminds us of this more than DADT.
Soldiers not only sacrifice for our safety; they sacrifice for our equality. Now is the time for us to make good on our end of the social contract. Now is the time to end "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" and move one step closer to ending second-class citizenship for our brave gay soldiers.
Is the WP's Richard Cohen afraid somebody will lift his pontification license if he gets over (a) his simple-mindedness and (b) his willies?
Here is Cohen today on why
there is almost nothing the Obama administration does regarding terrorism that makes me feel safer. Whether it is guaranteeing captured terrorists that they will not be waterboarded, reciting terrorists their rights, or the legally meandering and confusing rule that some terrorists will be tried in military tribunals and some in civilian courts, what is missing is a firm recognition that what comes first is not the message sent to America's critics but the message sent to Americans themselves.
"Almost nothing." This is not only risible, but Cohen makes a serious category mistake. It's not the sole purpose of government to soothe a public obsession. The mistake is particularly obtuse because the central purpose of terrorism is to rouse feeling--the feeling of terror. Terrorism is feel-bad politics by other means. If anything plays into the hand of terrorists, it's banging on about how the sky is falling.
If Americans are driven around the bend by al-Qaeda's minions--some of whom join up precisely because Bush's America acted on the principle that nobody should care how America looks abroad--this is no reason why Obama should return to the go-it-alone bravado of George W. Bush. But Cohen, like Bush against Kerry in 2004, is indignant that American policy should have to pass a foreign test:
more is at stake here than America's image abroad -- namely the security and peace of mind of Americans in America.
To be sure, "insuring domestic Tranquility" is one of the purposes of the Constitution. Here's the hed:
We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity,Note well : Tranquiity is supposed to coexist with Justice, defence, Welfare, and Liberty. But get out of Cohen's way--the bulldozer is coming through. He'll brook no compound list of virtues--virtues which, at times, clash. Cohen writes as if he has found an invisible-ink article of the Constitution that says "the paramount civil liberty is a sense of security," which, "sad to say, has eroded under Barack Obama."
Cohen is rock-solid sure that Obama's pussyfooting generosity about Miranda rights permitted underwear bomber Abdulmutallab to clam up before he could be properly interrogated, even though actual reporters in his own paper reported just last Friday that "Abdulmutallab, 23, clammed up even before he was informed of his right to remain silent." (The link appears in the online version of Cohen's own column.)
Cohen is sure that Bush, from Sept. 12 on, "in all likelihood" "bent over backward" to prevent further attacks. Cool. He is equally sure that Obama prefers more unreliable calisthenic approaches. Cohen seems to think that waterboarding is more civilized than civilian trials for terrorists, since the latter trouble his mind more than the former.
H/t: Credit where credit is due: Adam Serwer got the skewer in first.
I just got off a conference call with Speaker Pelosi. While she had a lot of optimistic things to say about the passage of a Senate plus sidecar bill, the big piece of news is that the House will pass (meaning, I presume she has the votes) a bill[...]
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On a blogger conference call today, Speaker Nancy Pelosi flatly stated that the Senate must pass a[...]
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The New America Foundation/American Strategy Program is hosting an event today featuring the Kenyan Vice President Kalonzo Stephen Musyoka, as well as the Speaker of Kenya's National Assembly Kenneth Otiato Marende and Kenya's Minister of Cooperative Development and Marketing Joseph W.N. Nyagah.
The delegation will provide an understanding of the fragile situation in Somalia and its implications for both Kenya and the United States.
For more background on this topic, see my post from yesterday.
The event will run from 10:00 am -11:30 am and will STREAM LIVE here at The Washington Note.
-- Andrew Lebovich
Here's ideo of the John McCain flip-flop caught by AMERICAblog on whether we should listen to military leaders on repealing ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’:
So in 2006, McCain said we should listen to military leaders in deciding whether to repeal DADT. Flash forward to today and Admiral Mike Mullen, the Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman, says we should repeal DADT. But now John McCain dismisses Mullen, saying we should not repeal DADT.
That's some seriously
straight twisted talk, eh?
On Dec. 19, Washington, D.C. officially legalized same-sex marriage. Mayor Adrian Fenty supported the legislation from the beginning, and it received the overwhelming support of the D.C. Council in an 11-2 vote. Congressional Republicans, however, immediately began calling for a referendum on the issue, suggesting that the majority of D.C. residents were actually against same-sex marriage. However, D.C. LGBT blog GLAA Forum reports that all the money funding Rev. Harry Jackson, who led the anti-marriage equality efforts, came from outside of Washington, D.C.:
It turns out that the $199,530.00 funding for his efforts come from only four main sources, all from outside of D.C. according reports filed with the D.C. Office of Campaign Finance. … Jackson?s largest contributor is his own Maryland church based non-profit group, High Impact Leadership Coalition. [...]
The next largest contributor is the Colorado headquartered national group, Focus on the Family. … [T]hey were able to contribute $40,000 to harming gay families in D.C. … National Organization for Marriage (NOM), the national group dedicated to keeping gay people from marrying contributed $32,138.00. … Family Research Council, the D.C. based national gay bashing group, donated $25,000 through it?s 501(c)(4) lobbying organization, Family Research Council ?Action.
No donations are from D.C. residents, unless you believe that Harry Jackson actually lives in D.C. His wife and son continue to live in their large suburban home. Jackson?s apartment in D.C. is the headquarters of Stand for Marriage DC.
The National Organization for Marriage is now telling its members to pressure Congress to pass a bill forcing a referendum on marriage in D.C. Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) has put forth “several prongs of attack against gay marriage in the district,” including a resolution of disapproval, a “possible lawsuit against the ordinance,” and a bill that would require a referendum by residents. In September, City Paper reported that a Human Rights Campaign poll conducted in the spring found “upwards of 65 percent support citywide” for same-sex marriage.
Read this gem from Amanda Terkel of ThinkProgress.org:
The National Law Journal (subscription required) reports that conservative objections seem to be based on her strong legal advocacy work on Hispanic and LGBT issues. Demeo has an accomplished legal career, working for the Justice Department?s Civil Rights Division, as an assistant U.S. attorney, and most recently as a D.C. magistrate judge since 2007. She also was a lawyer and lobbyist for the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund and as an openly gay woman, has been a member of the Human Rights Campaign and co-president of GAYLAW. From the National Law Journal:
Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), who frequently delays Obama nominees, said he is holding up Demeo?s nomination in his role as chairman of the Senate Republican Steering Committee, a caucus of conservative senators. ?A number of Republicans had concerns and asked me, as chairman of Steering, to ask for limited debate and a recorded vote because of a history of very leftist activism,? he said.
DeMint said he had reviewed Demeo?s record as recently as Jan. 27 and found it unacceptable. Asked in a brief interview for specific criticisms, he said ?it?s a lot more? than Demeo?s work for MALDEF but he declined to give details. ?There are just a number of things that don?t look like a fair and balanced approach that you?d like in a judge,? he said. A spokesman for DeMint later declined to elaborate.
DeMint?s block on Demeo is incredibly hypocritical, considering what he said in 2005:
One of my goals as a Senator is to confirm highly qualified judges by ensuring timely up-or-down votes for all nominees no matter who is President, no matter which party is in the majority. That is my commitment, and I have encouraged Senator Frist to consider all options, including the constitutional option, to end the undemocratic blockade of judicial nominees. Senators were elected to advise and consent, not to grandstand and obstruct.
I would like to say something to my colleagues across the aisle. There is a reason George W. Bush was elected to serve as President of the United States. It is because the majority of Americans trusted him to nominate judges.
Oh please. The US would be nuts to do anything other than ignore China's recent loony rants. Their other recent rant against US defense contractors is equally odd, if not violating the spirit of the WTO which they had to join. (Not that I really care to defend that industry, but still.) One of these days the US really has to forcefully push back against that miserable government instead of cowering as we've witnessed for years. What are they going to do? Stop buying US debt? Fine, then maybe the US will stop buying their cheap junk.
Any meeting between President Barack Obama and the Dalai Lama would harm bilateral relations, China warned Tuesday while repeating Beijing's refusal to discuss Tibet's status with the spiritual leader's envoys.
An Obama meeting with the Tibetan spiritual leader would "seriously undermine the political foundation of Sino-U.S. relations," said Zhu Weiqun, the executive deputy head of the Communist Party's United Front Work Department who was in charge recent talks with the Dalai Lama's representatives.
–updated– The video is a demonstration in Sheikh Jarrah, East Jerusalem that ended in arrests and detentions, which caused quite a stir back in January. Discontent in some quarters is rising in Israel over freedom of speech and assembly[...]
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