Friday, May 13, 2011

Two Democratic Steps Forward, Four Republican Steps Back...

There’s nothing new about the story. Some 45 years ago, despite a turning national tide toward acceptance, Republican conservatives fought with all their might to prevent blacks from acquiring the rights all Americans were supposedly guaranteed by the Constitution—even repudiating President Kennedy’s federal Civil Rights Act.

In 2011, with 58% of the nation supporting same-sex marriage, here we are in the same situation, as right-wing Southern politicos refuse to serve their constituencies by reacting to evolving public opinion.

And now, while mandates passed by Congress and the Pentagon have deemed "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" just plain misguided, Speaker John Boehner won't hear of it.

Late Wednesday night, the Republican-led House Armed Services Committee launched a desperate attack to delay its repeal. Specifically, it is proposing amendments to the National Defense Authorization bill that would:

* Demand all service chiefs to "certify" the repeal of DADT, even though it already must be certified by the Secretary of Defense and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The chiefs testified in October that this step is unnecessary.

* Prevent equal access to military facilities and infringe on religious liberty by prohibiting the use of Department of Defense facilities for marriages between same-sex couples even in states where those marriages are legal, while prohibiting military chaplains from performing same-sex marriages.

So much for getting the economy on track, creating jobs or working toward getting American soldiers out of hostile territories and ending unnecessary wars. The Republicans have a more important job to do: Keep America safe from its own citizens. I swear, you’d think Jessie Helms was still alive. 

Fortunately, there is good news on the equality front: Following passage of civil union legislation by the Delaware General Assembly in April, Gov. Jack Markell, a Democrat, natch, signed the bill (mind you, still a far cry from marriage equality) into law Wednesday night. When it takes effect Jan. 1, 2012, Delaware will become the eighth state to allow civil unions or domestic partnerships.