In the shadows of military racial segregation: don't ask, don't tell

November 23, 2010 YS,

I’m back in Asbury Park for Thanksgiving. Just looked at the video from Selma at the monument for Jim Reeb, where I spoke to some folk in front of a nearby Barber Shop. Their words of thanks to me for participating in the Selma to Montgomery March brought tears to my eyes then, and, as I have just looked at the video, those tears returned.

How strange it is that our efforts to speak out for justice for persons who experience injustice, is somehow viewed as being courageous. Yet, as I remember those black persons in front of that Barber Shop who thanked me, I realize that even though they were not with me 45 years ago in the Selma March, they linked some of the racial "progress" in Selma today, to what we did years ago.

No human being wants to be treated unjustly. Why then, are there persons today who resent injustice when they experience it personally, yet who see no contradiction in their being unjust to persons because of their sexual orientation, race, gender, etc.?

I continue to be amazed, startled and angry as I read the words of Senator McCain and others who are reluctant to do away with Don't Ask, Don't Tell. Do they not remember that their arguments today are the same arguments once used to support a racially segregated military? Should I assume that if they had been political leaders when we had a segregated military, they would have opposed the elimination of military segregation?

There are times when I believe that some of the persons responsible for the anti-gay language and legislation of today, are expressing resentment because they and their colleagues "lost" the battle to retain/maintain racial segregation. There is symmetry between racism and heterosexism that few would acknowledge is part and parcel of who they are today. But, I have seen and heard enough to believe there is, and those who say there is not, are not truthful. They and those before them were unable to stop racial desegregation, thus they seek to stop the full inclusion of lgbt persons today!

How do we explain the insecurity, the neediness, the warped values that are present in persons who without batting an eye, stand in the way of full human rights for lgbt persons? I suggest they have a Fred Phelps syndrome in their DNA they have yet to acknowledge.

EB

December 1, 2010

Dear EB,

I hear your anger and join your outrage. What will the days ahead hold as the Senate considers the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell? Will politics and fear override the chance to end this discriminatory policy? I can't bring myself to have high hopes, but I do hope.

Check out the Courage Campaign with video testimonies of service members.

Love, YS