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Chan Lowe: The death of Don't Ask, Don't Tell


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It’s ironic that the demise of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, while a victory for individual rights in America, actually gives the country another black eye.

At least we used to be consistent in the way we officially treated gays. Gay members of our armed forces had to keep their private affairs and proclivities in the shadows while their straight colleagues enjoyed their lives in the open. The official view of them was that they were depraved. It wasn’t just a passive rule; gay service members lived in continual fear of being “outed” by someone else and summarily discharged in disgrace. We don’t even have to go into the tragic loss of talent this represented at a time when our nation needed it the most.

At the same time, we denied those who put their lives on the line the very rights that they were defending for the rest of us. The combination of DADT and the federal Defense of Marriage Act was abhorrent⎯but there was, at least, a certain twisted reasoning to it. If gays weren’t fit to serve, it followed that they shouldn’t be allowed to claim the basic right to marry.

Now we are left pointing only to DOMA⎯the institutional discrimination in our national code against an entire class of people, simply because of whom they are. As of yesterday, there no longer exists even a fig leaf to justify it.

Those of us old enough to remember the Vietnam years might also recall that there was a time when, in many states, twenty-one was the minimum voting age, yet the draft sent many younger people overseas to their deaths. The cry went up, “If we’re old enough to fight, we’re old enough to vote,” and that simple, compelling logic finally won the day.

Thanks to the repeal of DADT, we can now use the same moral argument to assure gays their constitutional right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, as well as equal protection under the law. Jefferson’s locution, “unalienable rights,” may sound archaic to the modern ear, but as of yesterday, it is even more charged with meaning.

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Comments

I remember many gay friends afraid of being "outed" during the Vietnam war...some felt they had to leave the country....and they did. They not only had to fear "the enemy", but possible abuse/friendly fire.....
About time that we've righted some wrongs....A long time a'comin.....


Great on target editorial cartoon, congratulations chan


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About the author
Chan LoweCHAN LOWE has been the Sun Sentinel’s first and only editorial cartoonist for the past twenty-six years. Before that, he worked as cartoonist and writer for the Oklahoma City Times and the Shawnee (OK) News-Star.

Chan went to school in New York City, Los Angeles, and the U.K., and graduated from Williams College in 1975 with a degree in Art History. He also spent a year at Stanford University as a John S. Knight Journalism Fellow.

His work has won numerous awards, including the Green Eyeshade Award and the National Press Foundation Berryman Award. He has also been a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. His cartoons have won multiple first-place awards in all of the Florida state journalism contests, and The Lowe-Down blog, which he began in 2008, has won writing awards from the Florida Press Club and the Society of Professional Journalists.
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