by John Grooms
Today theres good news and more good news and some bad-but-so-stupid-its-funny news.
Good News 1: The House of Representatives voted yesterday to let the Defense Department repeal Dont Ask Dont Tell, the ban on gay and bisexual people serving openly in the armed forces. Also yesterday, the Senate Armed Services Committee approved a similar measure allowing the repeal of the ban. The repeals ultimate fate in the Senate is uncertain, but momentum has been building lately in favor of repealing the discriminatory ban, and yesterdays votes were major steps toward that goal. By the way, recent polls from the Washington Post/ABC and the New York Times show between 70 and 75 percent of Americans think gays should be able to serve openly in the military.
Good News 2: We also have a Stupid Thing of the Week, which leads us to . . .
Bad-but-so-stupid-its-funny News: The religious right has stepped up pressure on its sheep in Congress to fight the repeal, including an incredible rant from the Family Research Council saying that repealing the ban will turn the U.S. military into a terrifying free-rape zone where straight service members will be fellated in their sleep against their will. That's still not as goofy as the rightwing group Americas Survival, which claimed repeal would mean that disease-tainted gay blood threatens our troops, and would lead to transgendered individuals who want to dress up as members of the opposite sex and would cry discrimination if they are not allowed to do so. The evidence given for this? Corporal Klinger of the TV show MASH. No, Im not kidding. Read it and laugh (or weep) here.
Republican members of Congress responded to the religious rights pressure with unintended hilarity. Most of the Republicans who spoke on the floor of the House yesterday tried to portray the repeal as a danger, an unwanted social experiment, or an insult to the troops. Read about their arguments here.
Our favorite comments came from Rep. Todd Akin (R-MI), who asked, So are we going to protect and condone homosexuality in the military? Is this the sort of thing that George Washington or our founders would be proud of, that we are doing today in this quick flash before Memorial Day? Well, heres a quick flash for Rep. Akin and all likeminded bigots: Baron Friedrich von Steuben. Who was that? He was a Prussian aristocrat, a well-known gay man, and oh by the way, was also Inspector General and Major General of the Continental Army during the American Revolution. Von Steuben taught George Washingtons army the basics of military service, wrote the Revolutionary War Drill Manual, and eventually served as Gen. Washingtons chief of staff. Yessiree, those gays are a real threat to America. Now, Rep. Akin, and all the other backward lemmings of the right who love to refer to the Founding Fathers, put that in your pipe and smoke it. Maybe it'll keep you quiet for at least a few minutes.