To Comfort The Afflicted
And Afflict The Comfortable

To Comfort The Afflicted And Afflict The Comfortable

Saturday, May 18, 2024


DADT: With All Deliberate Speed



Are America’s gay and lesbian service members better off with Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell now on the way to the trash can of prejudice? Are gays and lesbians in civilian life better off without DADT on the books? I’ve been asking myself that question since the vote. Since I can’t say absolutely yes, it has to mean a qualified no.

I’ve never been in the armed forces nor do I ever want to be. I have no experience to draw on in regard to living in a regimented structure or abiding by a detailed chain of command. I know several gay men who are veterans of military service and have been honorably discharged because they wanted to do other things with their futures and not because of any infraction of the military codes of acceptable behavior.

I can only conjecture that the open acceptance of gay/lesbian service members should lay to rest, at least among those straights who are not incontrovertibly flat-earth thinkers, the stereotype of a gay man or woman as undependable, flighty, irresponsible, somehow second-rate mentally and physically.

Remember, there have always been gay and lesbian citizens in the American military, acknowledged or not.

Though not all service members are in combat units, can anyone really think that those gay men who have chosen to take the training that reverses all normal civil behavior be unable to kill when required by orders or mission? How can the stereotype of limp-wristed fruits hold up against the evidence of deeds and the awarding of medals?

Indeed, that’s why homo-acceptance is so worrisome to the flat-earthers – when prejudice meets reality, they lose their footing and slide on the suddenly made-round earth.

In the civilian mode of living, I also conjecture that the repeal of DADT will also lead to the repeal of DOMA [Defense of Marriage Act] and the passage of ENDA [Employment Non-Discrimination Act] for the same reasons of prejudice meeting reality.

Dr. M.L. King is quoted as saying, “It may be true that the law cannot make a man love me, but it can keep him from lynching me, and I think that’s pretty important.”

I think this quote can apply to gays/lesbians in the American Armed Forces and civilian life.

Homo-hatred isn’t erased by the passage of laws any more than racism went extinct with the passage of the 1964 civil rights and 1965 voting rights acts or the 1954 Supreme Court opinion of Brown v. Board of Education that integrated public schools.

Racism is in play right now to a degree, I think, unseen since the mid-1950s to early 1960s.

The racism-that-dare-not-speak-its-name is due to the election of a bi-racial man as president. The historian Robert Graves wrote a novel of Roman empire days and he has the Emperor Claudius – a man supposed to have been progressive for his era – saying at his death, “Let all the poisons that lurk in the mud hatch out,” referring to the wars he expected would develop without his more peaceful point-of-view to guide the politics of his time.

Even after the presidential signing of the bill the legal repeal of DADT doesn’t go into effect until the Pentagon and the president have certified that procedures and policies have been implemented that allows for the smooth transition of gay/lesbian openness in the military. And then there is a 60-day “cooling-off period.” Can this cooling-off period be a resurgence of a phrase from another important civil rights issue in the 1950s?

Even the integration decision of Brown in 1954 required a second opinion in 1955 clarifying just how fast the implementation of the 1954 decision was to occur. The nine wise men in black wrote “with all deliberate speed.”

It took 11 years for passage of the Matthew Shepard/James Byrd Hate Crimes Act, named after two men who were killed in particularly heinous ways [one because he was gay, the other because he was black] during which time 41 states passed anti-gay marriage amendments or statutes. Only five states recognize our civil right to marry the person of our choice, with two states facing possible reversal of our equality: California and New Hampshire.

Perhaps the passage of time will bring our equality into focus even as the passage of laws are used to delay “with all deliberate speed” the recognition of our birthright of equality in America.

James Nimmo lives in Oklahoma City and is a regular contributor to The Oklahoma Observer


  1. Gays & Lesbians Can be Killers, Too
    by James Nimmo

    (Oklahoma City) Cindy Sheehan, well known peace activist and political candidate, who had a son killed in the Bu$h Junta’s invasion of Iraq, has written an article reflecting on the recent commencement of the process to repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT), the 1993 policy signed by President Bill Clinton to discriminate against gays and lesbians in the American military and now repealed by Congress and President Obama this month.

    In my view Ssheehan is squarely on the mark as she points out there is no equivalency in acknowledging the civil rights of minorities as a useful mission of the military.

    Any country’s primary use of its military resources is about learning to kill effectively on command. From the lowest rookie recruit in the kitchen/laundry support services to the highest commander in combat to the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the military’s job is about destruction of lives and property without second thought or reflection beforehand when the boot meets the ground, the finger meets the trigger, where the eye focuses on the cross-hairs, at the last link in the chain of command.

    All the face time that news commentators such as Rachel Maddow have given to the gays/lesbians on the news shows has distracted us from the job those kicked out were doing.

    Concerning two of the most prominent faces in the DADT separations, Fahrenback was/wants to continue to be a F-15E Strike Eagle pilot. Choi is/wants to continue as a translator but also lead men in combat as an infantry platoon leader.

    The removal of DADT is an improvement for those wishing to live in the military occupation, but I do not feel proud for myself.

    I don’t feel comfortable about our equality movement having our birthright recognized by bringing death and violence to innocent people through the actions of legally openly serving gay men and women in any military, regardless of country.

    Spare me the observation that gays in the military can be used to disprove the stereotype of gay men having no courage, that manliness knows no sexual orientation. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) knows no orientation either.


    Don’t Go, Don’t Kill!

    The repeal of don’t ask, don’t Tell for gays in the US military is not a positive step for equality, activist says.

    By Cindy Sheehan

    December 23, 2010 “Al-Jazeera” – -The recent repeal of the US military policy of “Don’t ask, don’t tell” is far from being the human rights advancement some are touting it to be. I find it intellectually dishonest, in fact, illogical on any level to associate human rights with any military, let alone one that is currently dehumanizing two populations as well as numerous other victims of it’s clandestine “security” policies.

Arnold Hamilton
Arnold Hamilton
Arnold Hamilton became editor of The Observer in September 2006. Previously, he served nearly two decades as the Dallas Morning News’ Oklahoma Bureau chief. He also covered government and politics for the San Jose Mercury News, the Dallas Times Herald, the Tulsa Tribune and the Oklahoma Journal.
Mark Krawczyk
Mark Krawczyk
March 9, 2023
Exceptional reporting about goings on in my home state as well as informative opinion pieces that makes people think about issues of the day...........get a SUBSCRIPTION FOLKS!!!!!!!
Brette Pruitt
Brette Pruitt
September 5, 2022
The Observer carries on the "give 'em hell" tradition of its founder, the late Frosty Troy. I read it from cover to cover. A progressive wouldn't be able to live in a red state without it.