Too High a Price For Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell

Let’s not get hoodwinked into thinking the only way LGBT people can win our rights is by abandoning our principles.

Sen. Harry Reid’s insertion of the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT)—and the pro-immigrant DREAM Act—into a bill for nearly $700 billion in military spending is a cynical maneuver. Many journalists characterize it as a means of shaming the Republicans into a dilemma over Pentagon spending. But that band of bigots has no shame. The really insidious aspect of this defense appropriations bill sprinkled with reforms is the attempt to corral LGBT people, immigrant rights activists and our allies into supporting war funding.


I’m not a constitutional scholar or legal expert. If I were, I wouldn’t be living in a 400-square-foot pad in Brooklyn with a kitchen that dates back to the era of 8-track tapes. So I cannot offer readers a specific legislative route to repeal DADT, but I can add.

Most of the American population, the president, leading generals, troops, the authors of that noxious discriminatory legislation—and even 77 percent of Republicans support repeal of DADT. Why can’t this reform, that Obama and the Dems have promised repeatedly, be passed on its own merits?

Progressives should not accept that the only way we can advance our equal rights is over the backs of our Iraqi and Afghan brothers and sisters. Abandoning our opposition to war and militarism is too high a price.

Exactly what is holding up repeal of this continued discrimination against LGBT people in the nation’s largest workforce?

The Dems are using the midterm elections as an excuse for paralysis. But they’ve held both houses of Congress for four years and the White House for nearly two of those. The Dems’ refusal to deliver the goods they were elected to produce is what accounts for the “enthusiasm gap” everyone is yammering about. Where are the jobs, social and union reforms, a real end to the wars and occupations, and sane environmental policies? All have been tossed aside for the $14 trillion—yes, trillion!—giveaway to the “banksters” (as my pals at Socialist Worker like to call them).

Please, don’t tell me that we must be “practical.” That slipping reforms into war funding is simply the way business gets done in Washington. Isn’t that why activists exist, to challenge the status quo? We’re supposed to be the dreamers. Isn’t that why we celebrate MLK and Rosa Parks—because they were dreamers who cobbled together a social movement to fight for their ideals? Isn’t that what we did last year to build the 250,000-strong National Equality March out of spit and chewing gum when none of the media or Gay, Inc. would give us the time of day?

Let’s not stop dreaming now, otherwise the right will suck us into their nightmare.

We at SherryTalksBack—yup, me and the pooch—are taking the weekend off to do some other work. Meet us back here on Monday for a fresh piece and please be sure to pass this around and let me know your thoughts.

Sherry Wolf is a public speaker, writer and activist who is available to speak at your campus, community center or union hall for a moderate fee. Wolf is the author of Sexuality and Socialism: History, Politics and Theory of LGBT Liberation (Haymarket Books, named one of theProgressive’s “Favorite Books of 2009”). Contact Sherry at: sherrywolf2000 at or find her on Facebook. Check out the video of Sherry speaking with Cleve Jones and the cast of Hair at the National Equality March.


3 responses to “Too High a Price For Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell

  1. Pingback: The Debate on the DREAM Act and DADT « Third Reconstruction

  2. Sherry,
    I’m in total support of dumping DADT immediately. It’s wrong at every level. My only argument with you, respectfully, Sherry is this. I don’t think Reid was wrong to connect it to the Defense Auth Bill. In this current climate of the party of NO…the repubs would never have allowed it to pass on it’s own. They would not even have allowed it to go to the floor for discussion. The best hope right now was to attach it to the DA bill but unfortunately the party of No will stop at nothing to make anything from the Obama Adm fail. You know that. The repubs have won again….and..people are about to vote them back into control which will cripple this presidency for the next 2 years. I fear The chances of DADT ever getting overtuned will be lost with repubs in control. I also fear that if tpary repubs increase in their number in the congress, they will work to legislate more laws against deep is their homophobia. I tmakes me feel so ashamed they are leaders in my country.

  3. Peggy,

    I would just say the Obama administration self-crippled its administration for the purpose of social progress and reform. Like Sherry’s mentioned in her previous posts, they’ve had control of both the executive and legislative branches and they’ve failed miserably to provide for much needed change the last 2 years.

    The alternative is to keep organizing for the repeal of DADT but even more importantly against the right wing dominance of political discourse so that we can have a foundation to better force the hand of those at the top to institute changes like real healthcare reform and repeals of DADT and DOMA.

    ~ Adriano

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