What do Lady Gaga, Robert Gates and Admiral Mike Mullen have in common? They were unable to stop a minority in the Senate from filibustering a defense appropriations bill that would have led to the repeal of “Don’t ask, Don’t Tell.” (New York Times report here.)
The pop icon, Secretary of Defense, and Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff all agree that allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly in the military is a good move not only for justice, but also for America’s military capabilities. Although Lady Gaga hasn’t served in the military or–to my knowledge–expressed the intention of doing so, she’s received the most attention in the last few days. [We should discuss celebrities and social movements some time soon.]
GLBT activists were not the only ones frustrated by the filibuster. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid also planned for a vote on the DREAM Act, which would provide a path toward citizenship for students and service people who had come to United States as children–and without documentation.
Promised a Senate vote, gay rights and immigration reform activists aren’t likely to give up now, and they’ll look for their best options. GLBT activists have recently made substantial progress in the courts. In the past few months, Federal judges have ruled “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” and California’s anti-same sex marriage Proposition 8 unconstitutional. In Florida, an air force flight nurse dismissed for being a lesbian is seeking reinstatement, and the federal district judge hearing the case seems inclined to grant it (Washington Post blog report).
Institutional routes to reform for immigration activists seem tougher, and the people pushing the DREAM act are now planning protest strategies, Ambreen Ali reports.
It’s hard to think that an experienced legislator like Sen. Reid was surprised by the result; he can count votes. Rather, threw these reforms up against the Senate for the Republicans to block, no doubt hoping that the frustration activists faced would translate into enthusiasm at the ballot box in November, perhaps saving some threatened Democrats–including Harry Reid.
This may happen, of course; a lot more is also possible. Recall Langston Hughes:
What happens to a dream deferred?
Does it dry up
like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore–
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over–
like a syrupy sweet?
Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.
Or does it explode?