Monday, June 15, 2009

Deboarding the Bandwagon: DADT

Whatever remained of the presumptive Obama supporter in me died on page 42 of the legal brief the Obama administration filed in favor of dismissing a legal challenge to the execrable "don't ask, don't tell" (DADT) policy, under which otherwise qualified members of the US military are dismissed for having the wrong sexual thoughts and refusing to lie about these thoughts.

DADT is an affront to legal equality and a degradation of military readiness:

[M]ore than 58 Arabic linguists have been kicked out since “don’t ask, don’t tell” was instituted. ... In addition to those translators, 11,000 other service members have been ousted since the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy was passed by Congress in 1993. Many held critical jobs in intelligence, medicine and counterterrorism.
Reversing its clear campaign promise, the Obama-Biden administration has decided to promote discrimination and diminish military readiness. Its legal brief branches into a discussion of the ever-more execrable "Defense of Marriage Act" (DOMA) law and pretends to find it acceptable. Quoting:
The Court [in Loving v. Virginia] had little difficulty concluding that the statute, which applied only to "interracial marriages involving white persons," was "designed to maintain White Supremacy" and therefore unconstitutional. ... No comparable purpose is present here, however, for DOMA does not seek in any way to advance the "supremacy" of men over women, or of women over men. Thus DOMA cannot be "traced to a. . . purpose" to discriminate against either men or women. ... In upholding the traditional definition of marriage, numerous courts have expressly rejected an alleged analogy to Loving. [emphasis mine]
DOMA cannot be traced to a purpose to discriminate against men or women -- agreed. Likewise, it cannot be traced to a purpose to discriminate against Jews or Catholics; nor to a purpose to discriminate against native-born Haitians or Canadians; nor to a purpose to discriminate against the elderly, speakers of Mandarin Chinese, or people with fair skin and freckles. No, it explicitly targets people with sexual thoughts that a majority of Congress didn't like at the time it passed, and places them in a second-class status.

The most charitable thing I can think to say about this legal argument -- which, by the way, I do understand as harping on the existing categories of "protected classes" -- is that it is the kind of thing that makes people despise lawyers. My less charitable and more honest read of it is to say: fuck off, you cowardly bigots.

I don't even disagree with another major premise of this abomination, namely, that Congress needs to roll back anti-gay laws to the maximum extent possible. What Congress does or fails to do is not a barrier.

President Obama found no difficulty shuffling taxpayers' money to churches under the auspices of the "faith based initiatives" garbage, notwithstanding the absence of enabling legislation from Congress. Facing a similar situation in 1948, President Truman racially desegregated the military using his lawful powers as President by issuing an executive order. Surely President Truman did so in the face of arguments very similar to those heard today about DADT; he did not wait for the courts or the Congress.

President Truman, alas, was no coward in the face of rank bigotry. President Obama has shown himself to be that -- and worse, a cowardly bigot who demonstrably knows better.

The legal brief in question, in all its disgrace, is shown below.

Obama's Motion to Dismiss Marriage case

(via Andrew Sullivan)

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