Posted by: Jim | May 22, 2008

More Arcing, More Justice

It’s a good week to be gay. A few days after the Supreme Court strikes down California’s ban on gay marriage, a Federal Appeals Court has now told the military that they can’t just discharge someone because they are gay.

the Supreme Court’s opinion in the Texas case changed the legal landscape, the judges said, and requires more scrutiny over whether “don’t ask, don’t tell” is constitutional as applied in individual cases.

“Don’t ask, don’t tell,” as weak as it was, might have been a necessary step toward actual equality in the military. It was implemented around 1993 (anyone know?). But it is 2008 now (this I’m certain of) and “don’t ask, don’t tell” is a tainted reminder of old prejudices. The policy is akin to the “separate but equal” laws that was an attempt by racists to ameliorate those who hated racism, while still cling to their disdain for colored folks.

This ruling is a death-knell for the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. It’s good news for everyone, regardless of their orientation.



  1. Quote: “Courts historically have accepted the military’s argument that having gays in the service is generally bad for morale and can lead to sexual tension.” – In my opinion, this isn’t any more true than than having men and women working side-by side in the military. What could make it ‘bad for morale’? If there are disciplinary issues with harrassment of enlistees, that can be dealt with at the same level it would be for heterosexuals in any business environment. It seems to me it has just been a long standing prejudice that needed reform. I’m glad to hear learn of this!

  2. One of my best friends in the Air Force in the 80’s was gay. Presented no problem for me. My fiance’s father is gay. Again, no problem.

    My problem comes when you say this is good news for everyone, Jim. This is incorrect and arrogant. That’s just like telling everyone what’s good for them, regardless of what they represent, and you hate it when the right does that, don’t you?

    It’s not an obvious good, like the polio vaccine, but it is certainly good for gay people in California right now. That’s about as far as you can take it.

  3. Todd, first of all, this was a Federal court decision, so it’s not just a precedent for California.

    And to say that this is good news for everyone is correct. If having a grasp of human history, and to see a trend continuing toward a world where the system works and calling it “good news” is arrogant–then I am one arrogant sonofabitch.

    Would it be arrogant to say, “The atmosphere will continue to supply you with oxygen, and that is good news for everyone.”? Or would a humbler person say, “Wow, I don’t know about you, but this is good news for me. But you may not believe that oxygen is important, so I would not deign to project this importance upon you.”

    It is good news that the concept of personhood and the rights associated with that definition is expanding, and not shrinking. There are many folks who want it to shrink. There always will be; it’s human nature to want to exclude people who are different. But for as hard as those fuckheads TRY to shrink the definition of personhood, the Supreme Court usually manages to stop them. That is GOOD news.

    If the concept of personhood were shrinking, the day may come when the definition of “person” and all the rights associated with that definition, might not apply to straight white Christian guys from Colorado.

    I think I speak for every European Jew over the age of 60, who remembers what can happen when the definition of personhood shrinks: this is good news for everybody.

  4. Ya see, Todd, it works like this:

    If the Colorado State Legislature decreed that all statewide short-sighted narrow-minded cretins were entitled to a free Bacon, Lettuce and Tomato sandwich, at first glance that might not seem like it was good for EVERYONE; merely a select group of Rocky Mountain Oysterheads. But let’s dig deeper.

    It would mean that, for at least a short while, your typing hands would be busy and your mouth would be full. And THAT would indeed inspire much rejoicing throughout the land, at least until you wiped your hands on your Wranglers and got back to your keyboard.

    So even though the direct benefit would be only to you and a few of your equally gifted neighbors, the rest of us would benefit as well, if only for a few fleeting minutes.

    You see? We’re all in this together, man.

    * * *

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