Gay Enough?

Today, Congress finally repealed the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy that had been governing military procedures vis-a-vis homosexuality since 1993.  Upon passage of the resolution, Senate leaders called the requisite press conference and began the even-more-requisite self-congratulations.  As Majority Leader Harry Reid proudly announced the passage at a podium erected outside the floor of Senate, Sen. Carl Levin was observed sneaking up behind Sen. Reid to give him a hearty and well-deserved reach-around; at no point during the seven minutes when Mr. Levin’s hands were grappling with what aides describe as Mr. Reid’s “elephantine” genitalia did Mr. Reid’s speech waver or become in any way animated.  Additionally, spectators in the lobby witnessed Sen. Olympia Snowe and Sen. Patty Murray attempting to hide behind a page desk while engaging in graphic acts that one observer called, “…worthy of Sappho – I mean, scissor-sistering like two schoolgirls playing on the swings.”  In the wings of the lobby Sen. Joe Lieberman was found buckling his pants as a young pizza delivery boy scurried away; no pizza was found on the scene.  Asked for a comment, “Admiral Ackbar” Lieberman replied, cheeks flopping like a baying basset hound, “I guess the passage of this just really freed things up around here.”  When told that the bill affected only those in military service, Sen. Lieberman was heard to curse loudly and repeatedly.  After a moment he composed himself and continued, “We righted a wrong.  Today we’ve done justice.”

For better or worse, only three parts of the above are accurate: the Senate did pass a bill repealing DADT today, Sen. Lieberman really does look like Admiral Ackbar, and Ol’Joe really did say the last quote about justice being done.  In the midst of the Senate’s auto-fellatio (your call wheter or not such stimulation is occurring only on the level of metaphor), as well as the effusion and repulsion that will surely arise in the following hours from various sides of the spectrum (and my predition is that it will only be hours: increasingly smart Republicans know which side of the line to place themselves upon, and while surely Rush and Glenn will Moan-on-Monday, I’m doubtful it’ll last much longer than that.  Should my prediction prove true, I’d chalk such quietnesses up to a real Christmas miracle), I’d like to take a moment and look at the other issue the Senate considered today to see just how much justice was really done.

The other bill before the Senate today was the DREAM Act.  The DREAM Act is an immigration bill that sought to open a path for illegal immigrants to obtain citizenship if they met certain conditions: in short form, if a person came to the USA before they were 16-years old, they could apply for citizenship after 5+ years of continued residency and after obtaining either a GED or equivalent and/or serving in the military for 2+ years.  There are roughly 11-million illegal immigrants currently residing in the US, and the passage of this bill could have expanded our tax base, widened the pool of those available to serve in our military, educated and prepared a new generation of civic participants, burnished our country’s recently-tarnished record on immigration and been a giant step forward in general fairness and equality. Sadly, as if it were capable of only so much reasonableness per day, the Senate did not pass the bill, and given the wave of reactionaries that won the most recent elections, it is doubtful that the future Congress will even debate, let alone vote on, this bill.

While Senators will be hitting the airwaves to talk about how wonderful and just they are for having passed DADT, it’s useful to keep in mind where we stand.  Gays can now serve openly in our military.  I’m happy about this, and I think it was too long in coming (for some past ruminations of mine, please check out my earlier post Room For All?).  Of course, while they can now die a flaming death for our country, gays still can’t get married nor achieve the same legal relational status that we straights have.  Additionally, young brown people (Oopsie, did I say brown?? I meant “illegal,” because for we white people this is an issue about legalities and has nothing to do with race…) born on the wrong side of an arbitrary line on a piece of paper will continue to exist in illegal, scary scenarios in which they will never have the same opportunities or rights as the rest of us will.

Since I started out with an appeal to your imagination, let’s end with one as well: Staff Sargeant Stephen, the squad’s sassy and very openly gay leader who prefers to dress in fuchsia knickers and demands that his men double-kiss him on the cheeks rather than raise their palms in salute, is patrolling the Arizona desert when he spots a young brown woman leading a young brown boy by the hand behind a far off dune.  Stephen and his men race across the scrub and sand and take the woman and child into custody.  On the drive south back towards the border Sgt. Stephen, with the translation aid of Private Stumbleweed, interrogates the woman.  Turns out that after years of saving she and her son finally had enough money to ride the bus from their home state of Michochan all the way north to the border, which they crossed under cover of darkness.  Mother and child are attempting to join her husband, Luis, who works 60-hours/week for $8/hr as a dishwasher at a restaurant in Sacramento.  Luis has sent money home for five years, and the three hope finally to live together as a family.  Upon hearing her story Sgt. Stephen, who, despite his gruff exterior is really a softie, turns his head and sheds a thick crocodile tear into the fold of his Hermes scarf, which he has wrapped tightly about his neck to protect him from the desert night’s cold. Despite the human appeal of the woman’s story, Sgt. Stephen is a military man, and when the patrol jeep arrives in Lukeville, AZ, along the US-Mexico border, he has the woman and child locked in a concrete slab jail cell, from which they will be deported back across the border the following morning.  Looking through the bars of the cell as the woman and child huddle under a gray wool blanket to stay warm, Sgt. Stephen lisps, “Sorry sweetie – your kind ain’t allowed here.”

So there’s your measure of justice for the day: now the fags can help us keep the browns out.

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