The Lame Duck is Our Best Chance
After years of talking about how the military’s discriminatory Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT) policy must end, it has finally come down to the next few weeks. If the Senate is going to act to repeal this law, they must act now, before a more conservative Congress takes over in 2011.
As the UUA’s Director of Ministries and Faith Development, I serve as the Military Endorser for our faith, meaning that I vouch for the character and professional ministry standing of individuals interested in serving as military chaplains. Currently, there are thirteen UU ministers who serve in this capacity, offering spiritual counseling, and our special message of love and unity, to service members and their families.
I would love to see hundreds of UU chaplains serving in the field. Yet how can I, in good conscience, push a large scale recruitment effort of our seminarians, knowing that because of DADT, they will either be forced to deny who they are, or collude with the denial of full equal rights for queer people who serve alongside them? It is a conundrum indeed!
Please act now by urging your senators to push for repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell during the lame duck session.
A recent Pentagon study concluded that the United States is ready to abandon DADT. Apparently “asking and telling” – having gay, lesbian and bisexual individuals serving honestly– is not a big deal. It is, however, a big deal to be asked to lie about who you are, and who you love, or risk losing your career.
Just ask Retired Commander Beth F. Coye, U.S. Navy. Beth recently told me:
“At this very moment the Senate is deciding whether to include repeal of DADT in its lame duck agenda. For me, and others affected by this inane U.S. law and military policy toward gays and lesbians, I respectfully ask my UU family to fight hard at this critical time. I have spoken personally with many young men and women who were “asked” to leave their military; it’s a wrenching, sad experience, as you might imagine, to be fired from the military. Or, as in my own situation, to decide that I cannot live the lie anymore!”
When you are dealing with all of the other stressors of military life, away from loved ones, a crisis of faith can only be exacerbated when you are forced to lie about your very identity. Did you know that some 50% of soldiers lose their faith in combat situations? Whatever your feelings about our military, we can all be proud of those who are risking their lives, as well as the UU ministers who tend to the spiritual health of our soldiers. We can do our part to support them by speaking out against DADT.
Please join me, and Beth, in helping to end this shameful law.
I believe that our UU message of unity and love has a particularly transformative potential in the military. I plan to “stand on the side of love” on this issue when I attend the annual Military Endorser meeting in January. I hope by then, Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell will be dismantled and a policy of non-discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation will be taking its place.
In faith and hope,
The Rev. Sarah Lammert
Director of Ministries and Faith Development
Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA)
P.S. Please also call Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid at (202)224-3542 and Senate Armed Services Committee Chair Carl Levin at (202) 224-6221. Urge them to show leadership in repealing DADT during the lame duck session.