I mentioned yesterday that Dan Choi had been dismissed from the army after publicly outing himself on National Television. Last night, the Rachel Maddow show - which is my only source of news outside my LiveJournal friendspage - had Dan back on to talk about his dismissal.
The segment opens with information about another gay soldier - 2nd Lt. Sandy Tsao
- who outed herself in January, and at the same time wrote to the newly inaugurated President to tell him of her situation. This week, he replied. With a handwritten note, the contents of which read:
Sandy - Thanks for the wonderful and thoughtful letter. It is because of outstanding Americans like you that I committed to changing our current policy. Although it will take some time to complete (partly because it needs Congressional action) I intend to fulfill my commitment! — Barack Obama.
This isn't action. It's not initiation of procedures. It's just a promise and some words. But I'm going to take this as a good sign, that a particularly busy man thinks this fight is a worthy one and that he intends to join it. If in a year's time I've seen nothing except
yes, I'll get to you gays after I've sorted out the economy and the wars no really this time
, I may or may not decide to admit to disappointment. Right now, though, a re-affirmation of his commitment is a good sign to me.
As is his charming misspelling of the word 'fulfil' - a deliberate ploy to get us to like him more because of perceived foibles? I bet FOX think so!
So that's good news. Anyway, what Lts Choi and Tsao* have done is, as I mentioned in comments in the last post, effectively martyred their careers for values they feel strongly enough about. Both knew they would probably lose their jobs, and both decided the principle of not having to lie about who they are more important than obeying that one rule - which Choi says goes against his oath as a West Point alumni -
to follow and execute every order unless it was immoral, unethical or illegal.
), because the DADT policy is all three. So they came out, and did so publicly, so that the consequences of this outing could also be public. Unless people see and talk about the effects of the current policy, it can't be overhauled.wickedtrue
pointed out in comments that the response of the National Guard in dismissing Lt. Choi was the only response they could give - this is the law and they have to obey it. A possible response would be to take Choi's words back at them: they only have to obey it if it's not immoral, unethical or illegal, so someone involved in the decision process that led to Choi's dismissal must have decided it wasn't. But as Joe Stestak pointed out to Rachel, the US Government in particular has to tread really carefully
right now in terms of picking and choosing which laws to follow. The last administration did that, and those of us lefties who care about American politics would really rather they hadn't. So the dismissals need to happen in order for people to realise that they shouldn't
happen, and in that light what needs to happen now is discussion, which we can hope will be followed by action.
I realise that I'm preaching to the choir here; I think I have more queer people and allies reading this than I have feminists and allies, but I wanted it said anyway, because it's better to say it than to not say it; enforced silence means forcing someone to lie by omission. van
's comment has also inspired me to link to this old post on Shakesville: Take My Arm, My Love
Spend an entire week pretending that you're not a couple. Don't write a check from a joint bank account. Hide all the photographs in your home and office which would identify you as a couple. Take off your wedding rings. Touch each other, and talk to each other, in public, in ways that could only be interpreted as you being "friends". Refer to yourself only in the singular "I", never in the "we". When you go to work on Monday, if you spent time together on the weekend, include only information which would indicate that you went somewhere with a friend, rather than your life-mate. If someone comes to stay with you, sleep in separate beds. Go intentionally into the closet as a couple. For a week.
My life involves a certain amount of self-editing. Every time I mention my girlfriend in conversation (which is often, I'm a 'relate anecdotes from my life' kind of person), I have to make a conscious decision
to decide how to refer to her. Usually, yes, she's my 'girlfriend', but there's also 'partner' and 'friend' in circumstances where I just don't want to deal with the potential reaction. When I'm with her, every PDA is a political statement. Every hand-holding, every kiss, every hug. I'm aware, all the time, that most people who sees us is going to see lesbians first, lovers second (a close second, sure, but still). I'm as out as anyone, but I still (feel like I) have to be careful.
I can't even imagine the pain of having to keep up the pretence every minute of every day on pain of losing my job. And that's why this matters to me.
*is that the correct way to refer to them? Or should it be "Lt. Choi and 2nd Lt. Tsao?"