As of Sept. 20, “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT) is no longer in effect.
The policy began in 1993, and until now it has kept people from serving in the military while openly embracing their sexuality (not for heterosexuals, just for homosexuals).
The repeal of this policy is almost as big of a step for equal rights as states allowing gay marriage, though America still has a long way to go.
In Student Identity Outreach, the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning and straight interest organization on campus, we have been discussing and having meetings on DADT for several years.
We have had LGBTQSI individuals in the ROTC program speak to us about their experiences, and what the next step is for them since they cannot openly serve.
It was often a toss-up between doing what they love and hide who they are or find new career paths.
This spring, the archnemesis of America was killed. The death of Osama bin Laden will probably become a memorial.
Yet unlike then, there were no fireworks Tuesday night, there were no shouts of joy or flash mobs or swells of patriotism heard around the world because another step toward equality was taken.
The death of one man does not change America; the giving of life to its citizens through hope, respect and equality is what changes America.
I haven’t even heard DADT discussed around campus (negatively or positively).
I’m sure if I asked half of WKU’s student body what DADT was, they wouldn’t be able to tell me. But you can find one group (at least) that will say exactly what we think and how we feel about it.
We are ecstatic. We are celebrating. Patriotism is swelling in us. It’s things like fighting discrimination and seeing unjust laws overturned that makes me proud to be an America.
Members of the executive board of SIO had much to say.
SIO operations manager Pat Scrivener said, “One of the last bastions of institutionalized homophobia finally met its end.”
Events coordinator Andrew Salman said, “We have momentum. Now we should focus all of the amazing energy that we used here to the larger issues at hand.”
And co-president Kelly Smith said, “DADT, for me, has been one of those constant reminders that I am often regarded as a second-class citizen in this country, and while there is still more progress to be made, the repeal of DADT makes me happier and more hopeful than I can possibly express in words or celebration. Its repeal is symbolic and reminds me that no matter how long it takes, it is inevitable that one day the Gay Rights movement will no longer be needed.”
I hope you will join me in marking your calendars to remember Sept. 20, another feat for equality, and another step toward freedom.
Student Identity Outreach President