Wednesday, December 22, 2010

On Feeling A Little More Human

by: Keori

Wed Dec 22, 2010 at 20:28:59 PM EST

It's not over.

Don't Ask, Don't Tell is not quite dead. Not yet. But today was the critical blow to it. All that remains is for it to thrash its way into that dark night where the past injustices and disgrace of this country go to die. And that will happen soon.

Today was an amazing day. I was privileged to be in the audience at the DADT repeal Presidential signing ceremony. I am eternally grateful to Alex Nicholson and Jarrod Chlapowski of Servicemembers United for making that happen.

By far, the most personally important moment for me came after the ceremony was over. I actually managed to stop ADM Mullen on his way out. I shook his hand, identified myself by name and rank, and told him who I represented today. I told him about Beloved, about the Servicemembers United Military Partners group, and how much today means to the LGB military families. He thanked me for my service, and for the service and sacrifice of everyone in the Partners group. Then he looked me in the eye and said, "This will happen quickly."

I'm not quite ready to believe President Obama when he said that implementation would be done "swiftly and efficiently." But I absolutely trust my Admiral when he tells me how it's going to be. No questions.

It means a lot to me, this bill, and not just because this is a major marker on the road to equality for LGBT people. For so many years our government has told us, "You are expendable. You are nothing." It is still legal at the Federal level to deny us housing. It is still legal at the Federal level to deny us jobs. It is still legal at the Federal level to deny us marriage and families. It is still legal at the Federal level to deny us equal immigration rights.

But soon, it will be illegal to deny us LGBs the honor of serving our country.

When the House and Senate voted for DADT repeal, they didn't just vote for civil rights, or for equality. They spoke out in a voice that cannot but be understood, and they said, "Your lives matter. You are just as American, just as human, as we are, and you are welcomed among us."

It is a liberating feeling to be freed of the burden of mandatory secrecy and shame. It is an affirming feeling to be welcomed. I cannot help but think of the people I know and love who have suffered under this law, myself included, and I wonder how this will change all of us. I can only imagine the growth and blossoming that will happen. As my friend Dave said today, "We've all internalized this so much. It's not just everyone else's attitudes that will change, but our own attitudes about ourselves." He's right.

For myself, I am feeling a bit more human than I did a week ago.

There is much work still to be done, particularly for our trans brothers and sisters. This law does nothing to help them, yet they were there alongside us LGBs, working and pushing and sacrificing. We must not fail. We dare not fail. It's not just our rights we are fighting for. It's our lives, and the lives of our families.

And today, we celebrate as our lives matter a little more.

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