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Sunday, December 19, 2010

Hell's Kitchen Journal: Reflections on a Historic Day

By David Mixner -

Marine_Salute December 18, 2010 will now have a special place on the calendars of all people who love justice and freedom. The Congress of the United States after 17 years of bitter struggle, summoned up the leadership and courage to give the President and the military the tools to begin the end of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" (DADT). The reality that DADT is dead and is in the rubbish heap with all other bigoted laws passed over the ages.
Say it again and this time very slowly, "Don't Ask, Don't Tell is dead."
Savor it, celebrate it and remember where you were at this moment so you can tell future generations of this moment. Never has the LGBT community had a victory like this in the Congress of the United States. In many ways, this milestone is a turning point for us in our inevitable epic struggle for full equality and freedom. Those forces of darkness that have worked day in and day out to deny us the equality that is guaranteed to us under the Constitution of the United States have suffered their biggest set back so far. The time is nearing where we will be able to witness two same sex soldiers having a military wedding and the world will hardly notice.
As with most historic victories, everyone will have a list of who is naughty and who is nice. People will not be shy at announcing who is responsible for the victory and who disappointed us. Trust me, there will be no shortage of such lists and recriminations. However this not the time to celebrate any one person, politician or leader. There will be plenty of time over the year to honor the visible and silent heroes and heroines with tears of thanks, plaques, poetry and songs of praise.
Yet what we must remember most at this moment are those soldiers in the 1950's who were put in mental institutions, given dishonorable discharges and had forced lobotomies. The LGBT soldiers who were court martialed, stripped of rank and benefits and driven out of the military. The young LGBT soldiers who committed suicide when discovered. The ones who with their dismissals were sent home in shame and often lost their family, friends and communities. We cannot forget the 14,000 who were dismissed under DADT. The veterans who reminded us on a daily basis of their service gave us inspiration.
Victory comes at great sacrifice and great courage. We have seen unbelievable amounts of both in the LGBT community and with our straight allies. What an extraordinary noble community we have witnessed over the years. We all should be honored to be a part of it. So in celebration this weekend, raise your glasses to the unknown victims of the policy, the ones who came out in the military, to the countless thousands who fought side by side for this moment and to every single person who marched, wrote letters, phoned their Congressperson and refused to be counted down and out.
I am honored beyond what words can express to be a small part of such an amazing and extraordinary story of courage filled with magnificent people. Thank you all so much for allowing me to walk by your side.

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