On Sept. 20 the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, which was introduced in 1993 by President Clinton and allowed homosexual members of the military to serve only if their sexuality remained secret or unreported, was finally repealed.
In the 18 years that DADT was in place, more than 13,000 gay military members were discharged for either being open about their sexuality or reported by a comrade, according to the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network.
It has taken too long to repeal the act that Clinton intended to be a step toward compromise in the fight for full equality, but the United States has finally taken steps in the right direction with this repeal.
However, it is not enough to stop with the repeal of DADT. The United States government must responsibly represent its people and facilitate true equality for all by repealing the Defense of Marriage Act.
This act, signed into law by President Clinton in 1996, defines marriage to be recognized by the federal government as a legal union between man and woman. Under this federal law, no state is required to recognize a same-sex relationship as marriage even if it is defined as such in another state.
In February, the Obama administration announced it would no longer defend DOMA in legal cases questioning its constitutionality after the second circuit challenged the act.
Although this is an improvement from previous government position in this issue, simply refusing to defend the law is not enough anymore.
When announcing that the government would no longer defend DOMA, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. was clear that the government will continue to enforce the law until Congress repeals it or the courts issue a definitive ruling of its unconstitutionality.
There are currently at least six cases in multiple jurisdictions nationwide that challenge the denial of certain federal rights and benefits to lawfully-married same sex couples under Section 3 of DOMA, according to the Human Rights Campaign.
However, we cannot wait for a definitive ruling from the courts to take action. We must repeal the law; until we do, lawfully married same-sex couples will still be denied federal recognition and the rights associated with it.
We must not be satisfied with what we have already completed. Ending the era of DADT is only the beginning of a long fight for equality. In order to push forward, we need to address DOMA.
With 34 cases that have been decided on the issue, only 10 have found DOMA to be unconstitutional according to DOMAwatch.org.
Now that the government is no longer protecting the act, we will hopefully see another few states added to the list of only 6 states that recognize same-sex marriage as well as our own nation’s capital.
By repealing DOMA, the United States would offer its people what they deserve. The road to complete equality for homosexuals is a long one, and we as a nation have taken steps down the right path.
Putting an end to DADT is a wonderful step, but repealing DOMA would be the great leap that would put the equality revolution in motion.