Don’t Ask, Don’t Vote

October 8, 2010 News

On Tuesday, Sept. 21, the Senate voted against a bill that would allow for the repeal of the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. The policy restricts the United States military from efforts to reveal closeted gay, lesbian, or bisexual service members, while barring those who are openly gay, lesbian, or bisexual from serving in the military.

The 17-year-old act was very close to being repealed. On May 28, an amended version of the National Defense Authorization Act that would repeal the relevant sections of the law 60 days after a study is completed and the president gives approval was passed by the U.S. House.

Last Tuesday, a filibuster led by former presidential nominee John McCain, prevented debate on the Defense Authorization Act, which included the new amendment in the United States Senate.

The vote was 56 to 43, with Democrats falling slightly short of the 60 votes needed to overcome a filibuster and bring the bill to the floor.

President Obama, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, and even celebrity Lady Gaga have all favored repealing the policy. On the eve of the key Senate vote, Lady Gaga stopped in Maine with a message for lawmakers. More than 2,000 people attended the rally in Portland’s Deering Oaks Park, where the pop star spoke against the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy.

After the bill was blocked for debate, Lady Gaga posted a message on her website. “Today was an enormous disappointment, for me, and for many young Americans. Not only because Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell was not repealed by our senators, but moreover because legislative procedure is being abused to stop public business, public debates, from happening while America is watching,” it said.

President of the Spectrum organization, Meghan Thomas ‘11, believes the bill to be discriminatory and hurtful. “The psychological and emotional effects of having to hide who you are during a majority of your life are extremely detrimental. The fact that some people are free to love and talk about that love while in the military, and some are not, is the very definition of discrimination and oppression.”

She went on to state that passage of the bill would definitely affect life at Rollins. “The passage of the bill would affect every LGBTIQQPA student at Rollins. Any freedom for one is a freedom for all, and every right gained is a step in the right direction. Rollins students may choose to join the military at some point in their lives.” Run by the Office of Multicultural Affairs, Spectrum’s mission is to foster an active and diverse culture at Rollins.

It provides opportunities for students to build friendships and encourages open-mindedness and diversity across the spectrum of sexual orientations and gender identities. Its goals are to value its members, to promote an educational environment, to foster a safe and welcoming community, and to be a social organization that provides support for the LGBTIQQPA community.

Thomas has already noticed the change in Rollins’ students over the years. “Rollins has definitely seen a shift in both demographics and acceptance of the LGBT community. A few years ago there were fewer members who were working hard to raise visibility. This year, we’ve had 40 members of the Rollins community attend meetings and help plan events.”

“This year at least 52 people are attending a march through Orlando for the Pride Parade on October 10. We really owe this to the help and support of the Office of Multicultural Affairs.”

Spectrum has meetings every Thursday at 5:15 p.m. in Bush 120. They are also marching in the Orlando Pride Parade. Contact methomas@rollins.edu with questions or comments.

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