I’ve always believed that those actively agitating to repeal the military’s Congress’ Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell law were less personally invested in the right of gay servicemembers to serve – they were serving already – than they were to a broader national agenda using military law (i.e., federal law) to accomplish what would not otherwise be achievable in the legislatures of the several states. Repeal of DADT was step one.
Ecce, step two, on the editorial pages of the WaPo:
Despite all of the controversy, repealing “don’t ask, don’t tell” was the easy part. Politics aside, it takes no courage to simply right a wrong. The president and members of Congress have been congratulating themselves for doing the right thing. But minds should be turning to the difficult questions that remain. These are the same questions that vex our society when it comes to equal rights for homosexuals. They cross over into the “gray areas” where some start to feel uncomfortable and where the legal options are ambiguous.
It is, for example, one thing to hand a gay junior sailor a paintbrush and point him toward a rusty bulkhead. But can that gay sailor, if he has a partner, collect the same housing allowance his married counterparts do? Can a lesbian sailor request to be stationed where her partner is? Will the military recognize a marriage between two service members that is legal in one state but not in another?
The issue of gay marriage provokes deep divisions. I hope that my brothers and sisters in the armed forces can help the Defense Department set standards for the rights of gay men and lesbians that far outpace the conflicted sentiment and resulting legal tangle in our society. This is an opportunity to show all Americans that homosexuals deserve equal treatment under the law. This applies not just in some cases or with limitations but to the full rights all Americans should share when it comes to legal matters such as marriage, salary and tax benefits.
Here we go.
For what it’s worth, I have no objection to civil unions or recognizing domestic partnerships. These are private contracts, willingly entered into by the individuals concerned and of little interest to the state. I’m just old school on the word “marriage,” preferring to use the definition that our culture has broadly accepted for a societal cornerstone over the better part of 4,000 years. And from a secular state’s perspective, the word “marriage” comes with tax benefits because government finds compelling utility in stable marriages that foster the next nation of taxpayers. Alternate unions, by definition, cannot organically contribute.