When The News Settled In...

There is an assortment of flags on my desk.  American flags and the LGBT movement's rainbow flags.  When the euphoria of the Don't Ask, Don't Tell repeal vote passing in the Senate by 65-31 settled in, I took my eyes up for a moment and looked up at those flags with a sense of immense pride that I couldn't describe yet.  I expected the rainbow flags to catch my eyes, given what a monumental occasion the repeal was for gay Americans.  But it wasn't the rainbow flags that got my attention.

It was old glory.  Red, white and blue.  I looked at it in awe and then it suddenly hit me: no matter how proud I am today as a gay person in this victory, I am prouder in this victory as an American.  I came across this Youtube version of "God Bless the USA" by Lee Greenwald, and while it played, I looked at the flag.  I choked up.  The hair on the back of my neck stood up.

I came to America when I was 15 years old.  By then, I knew I wasn't like most others in terms of who I was attracted to, but it took a few more years for me to accept being gay for myself.  I conjured up the courage to tell my family about my sexual orientation when I was 21.  I went through a big ordeal of denials, weird questions, and outright condemnations in the next couple of years with my family.  Some of that is still there, although it's a heck of a lot better now.  As normal as it's going to get, I suppose.

But the reason I could come out, the reason I could be myself was, at least to me, that I was a part of this amazing country.  I was in love with it.  I still am.  I believed then, as I do now, that in America all prejudice will end one day.  I believed then as I do now that justice will ultimately prevail in America.

And that's what happened today.  When the Senate passed - completing Congressional passage and sending the bill to President Obama (who's always stood by our side and fought this fight with us) for his signature - the DADT repeal, a great injustice against gay patriots was coming to an end.  But even more than that, a great injustice was coming to an end.  This is the very definition of America shining: despite her history of discrimination and prejudice, once again America is marching forward, bending the long arc of history towards justice.

From the days of the Howard Dean campaign back in 2003 and 2004, before I was even out, I had hoped for the end of DADT.  Even though I never served in the military, I am no stranger to the pain of being forced to live in the closet.  That our country's military would force its gay members - my brothers and sisters every last one of them - to live in the closet hurt like hell.  That these incredible Americans were on the wall protecting the freedoms of the rest of us and were willing to lay down their lives at the call of their country did not make it any better.  That's why today's vote was so important.  It proved that America can still do big things.  That while we in the LGBT community lack many of the rights and privileges our straight counterparts take for granted, America is moving in the direction of equality.  That while we will continue to fight hard for everything else to come, in America, our fight will not be in vein.  That's the guarantee I could count on.

And that's why I want to take a moment and talk to people who are feeling a bittersweet feeling today because even though DADT is on its way to become history, the US Senate failed to advance the DREAM Act, dimming the hopes of those who are in America's colleges and in her armed forces, who were brought here as children without documentation.  As both an immigrant and gay, today was bittersweet for me, too.  But let's all have faith in the essential goodness of America.  Our work for the DREAM Act will continue.  And rest assured that that fight too will not be in vein.

Thank you.

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Ding dong, the policy is dead!

DADT Repeal 2010: In Videos (Update: Repeal Passes Senate, 65-31)