December 18, 2010 at 5:06 pm EDT | by Kevin Naff
A momentous day

Dec. 18, 2010 will be remembered as the day the U.S. Congress passed its first stand-alone pro-LGBT piece of legislation, repealing the discriminatory “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law that has ruined thousands of lives and careers during nearly 20 years on the books.

The progress on gay acceptance in those 17 years is truly remarkable. In 1993, the images in the mainstream media around gays in the military were dominated by a homophobic Sen. Sam Nunn, touring a cramped submarine to dramatize just how closely straight sailors would be forced to bunk with their gay colleagues.

Fast forward to 2010 and Nunn supports repeal and the chief opponent of lifting the ban — an increasingly irrelevant Sen. John McCain — is widely demonized in the media as out-of-touch and bigoted. The dominant images in the debate this time around consist of brave men and women cruelly kicked out of the military who are merely asking for their jobs back. What a difference 17 years makes.

So many brave individuals and hard-working organizations deserve credit for this momentous victory — from all the discharged service members who spoke out, to President Obama, Sen. Harry Reid, SLDN, HRC, Servicemembers United, Palm Center and more.

This win took too long and the 11th hour desperation of it all raises serious doubts about the viability of future pro-LGBT legislation. If an issue backed by nearly 80 percent of Americans is this difficult, imagine the fight over trans-inclusive ENDA or relationship recognition. But the post-mortem can wait for next week.

For now we celebrate and remember all those brave service members — like Maj. Alan Rogers — who can’t be here to share in this historic moment.

Kevin Naff is the editor and a co-owner of the Washington Blade, the nation’s oldest and most acclaimed LGBT news publication, founded in 1969.

  • We must never forget those who have opposed Repeal. They must remain in our minds at election time.

  • Ending DADt is not just about the troops in the mil per se. It is about being out in a group of your peers.

    Its awful hard to hate people you know and respect. Its awful easy for the talibangelicals and the RATZI pope to demonize people who are just “those ones”

    Of course those creeps have had lots of progress demonizing people. the talibangelicals (southern Baptist though there are some pockets of progreess there) and the churchenFuhrer who learned his lessons well growing up in nazi germany

    they say every dog has its day. Hopefully my dog wil get to eat the gonads of the evil ones, and turn them into food for horseflys on a hot day.

  • Equally, we must remember the eight brave republican senators who voted for repeal. They also made it happen. We should all send thank you emails to each of them.

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