The news is late. If by now you haven’t heard, what are you reading my blog for? I’m an openly gay Jew–so I would presume most of my readers should know–and on account of this, if you’re following me, you’ve surely been following the news. So it’s no news today what I’m going most thankful for, and if it hasn’t been guessed already, then, really, why are you here?
No, I jest! Please stay! And here I shall refrain from writing “lol.”
24. The Repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell
I had hoped my scathingly sarcastic and inherently ironic post a few weeks back would help push the people to seeing sensibility, and I suppose somewhat it might have worked–for not even a whole week or two after, it was successfully repealed! It’s been a long and arduous fight, but we’ve made it, my fellow monsters, we’ve made it!
The laundry list of people to whom thanks is most due feels like no laundry list to me–instead it feels like Santa’s list and I’m just checking it twice, making sure they haven’t been marked naughty, but have been stamped in gold as nice. So with no further adieu (or is it ado?), let me get to be doing what’s most urgently done.
First and foremost to the two perhaps most responsible for this lovely legislation (a coupling of words I never thought possible): Senators Joe Lieberman and Susan Collins. What states they’re from and what parties they belong to serve no bearings to my thanks to them–they acted on behalf of all US citizens, not simply their constituents, and they acted on behalf of a people whose power has seemed small, but for whose courage and fighting spirit has been great. To both of you, Senator Lieberman and Senator Collins, I am indebted and owe much thanks.
To the Human Rights Campaign– I know some people have a problem with what you do and how you do it, but you still did it. I saw more publicity on this issue from you–and by you, I imply all the countless people who work under your heading–than from anyone else, and if not for all your constant updates, a busy college student like myself would never have been able to keep up with deadlines to send emails and make calls to my senators otherwise. Some day I shall lend some to help support your cause. Until then, I shall suffer for IOU’s as a broke college student.
To Eric Alva, the first man wounded in Iraq, who came out when he returned home. His bravery and his advocacy for repeal have helped like no others’ could. I am thankful to him for not only defending my rights, but for defending the rights of everyone in the US. We are all indebted to his service and that of the thousands of other GLBT servicemen and women who have been thrown out and cast aside because of DADT. Those days have ended. We can finally rejoice in our individuality and unity.
To Lady Gaga. You came. You conquered. You were fierce and monstrous. You did what many celebrities were too fearful to do. I thank you, and wish urgently for your next album to be released and for backstage passes to your upcoming tour as well. I’d love to meet you. You’re awesome and inspiring. And for that, I thank you.
To my own senators–Senators Richard Burr and Kay Hagan. I can’t count (and trust me: I literally cannot count) how many emails I sent to both of them and how many times I called, whether running between classes or in the Math Lab (where phones are not allowed!) when no one was in there to see me. I called and I wrote and I let my voice be heard: And you both voted for repeal. After the first time I contacted Senator Burr, he wrote back in favor of DADT, or rather against its repeal. And yet he voted the right way–an act that makes me thankful not only that I took the time to contact him, but that so many others did as well. His hand in justice ignites a flicker of hope that the people in Washington really do represent the people at home–a hope that for me has been hard to keep alive lately.
To President Obama–who just yesterday signed the legislation into law. A fitting end (though by no means is our war yet over) to this long-fought battle. I cannot speak either fondness or criticism for our President, for on current affairs I am grossly uninformed (refer back to being a full-time college student, please, and if you can buy me time to remain informed, I shall gladly and gratefully keep up with the news each night), but my deciding point in wanting Obama as President was his support of GLBT people. I’ve seen my hopes greatly underrepresented, but this, too, brings new hope to our political system. Sure, it has faults–America perhaps has many more faults than our pride allows us to admit–but this, this was a great success and a great victory that we should all be proud of. Truly proud of. Thank you.
Most importantly: Last but not least: To the countless hundreds and thousands (if, daresay, millions) of faceless, nameless souls who supported this legislation with as much fervor if not moreso than I was able to muster myself. If not for them, if not for each of you, we would be nowhere now. I’ve thanked our respective generals, but after a battle is won, not thanking the soldiers is to be as thankless as possible. This battle was won by your hands. And for that, for all of that, I believe we are all and each of us in eternal debt, one that I hope our happiness and equality will pay for in time.
This is, as I have many times thus far implied, only a single battle won in a war that wages on. Next, I feel, we must win on the fields of Marriage, and then from there conquer Employment, Adoption, and Blood Donations. Only then, only after all of those battles have been victoriously fought, can I say I’ll feel as an equal in this country of ours. Only then will I feel a true citizen of what my paychecks reflect that I’m paying for the right to be here. May my monies not be wasted by my life’s end–may our taxes support a country true to its declaration that all men are equal before the law.
I wondered, for many days, which order I would put those four fields into. I struggled with the ordering of the second two most–which should prevail in importance over the other, the right to be employed without fear of termination on the grounds of discrimination alone, or the right to craft a family, a right I dream of fervently? I had adoption listed first, but then it struck me that a home in which each parent could lose his or her job for no reason but their own existence, is no family fit for children. Children need security, and financial security cannot be insured with the current legislation in effect. For that reason, we must first pursue the rights of equal employment before we pursue the right to start a family. We must be fully endowed to support ourselves before asking to support others as well.
I’m a staunch supporter of better legislation concerning blood donations as well, a viewpoint I’ve heralded many times here, so some may wonder why I place that answer last in the list. Although it may be my right to be able to donate blood or not, it is to the benefit of others that this places me. My blood–my blood that I can choose to donate–can save at minimum three lives. Three lives other than my own. So it stands to reason, by a principle exemplified by the great rabbi Hillel–“If I am not for me, who will be?” It’s a selfless thing to donate blood, but it’s a selfish desire to want to save my own life before saving another’s. I can donate blood till my veins are dry, should I be allowed to do so, but what will that do to my heart and my soul if I cannot love the one I yearn for or raise the family I hope for? We must first secure our rights to live as equals before we can worry to secure the rights of others to live.
It’s a sad fate, that we should be forced to feel as such, but as the laws presently stand, it’s an even sadder fate that we’re forced into such choices as we are. It’s of course no need, however we list these, to not fight for them all simultaneously, but without a focus placed on one at a time, our efforts will be washed out in an instant.
That, and I stress that, is why we must press on. There are men and women and even children in this world who hate vehemently, and their crusades must be crushed. We cannot hope for a future full of peace if we let the hateful hearts of this world keep beating. We have broken one such hateful heart by the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell; let’s not waste any more time in crushing another. Only when hatred has been purged from the law can we hope for it to be purged from the hearts of those the law governs. Our fight shall continue. Let’s pray our fighting spirit continues with it.