Celestial Lands The Religious Crossroads of Politics, Power, and Theology

5 Thoughts on “Why I’m Not Celebrating the Repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell

  1. David, I so appreciate getting a military person’s perspective from you. I can’t gainsay that point of view. I can only speak as a civilian, and as someone who cannot expect the minimum in many states in her country, and explain why I am celebrating.

    It is not an “achievement”… it is a return to decency, sanity, and equality. It is the minimum we can do… and I don’t know about you, but I do not want to “celebrate” achieving the minimum.

    I do. I most certainly do. There are still too many cases of LGBT people not having the minimum. Hospitals maintain that they don’t have to allow them visits from their chosen partners; states claim that they can terminate their parental rights; when they’re murdered, the courts make excuses for their killers. And you can bet I celebrate every single case of those, because they make an enormous difference in someone’s life, including, potentially, mine.

    Not to sound cynical, but when I look around I see that decency, sanity, and equality are often in short supply, so their reinstatement is worthy of celebration wherever it occurs.

    To your third point: I agree in your criticism of the media, but I don’t think the media’s hype requires that the rest of us act as if a big deal is no big deal. Taking the DADT situation as analogous, it seems you would argue that should not celebrate the election of a black man as US President. And despite the fact that racism is far from vanquished, I am still thrilled and amazed that the United States gave a landslide victory to a black man. It’s a better, more just country than I thought it was, and that is worth celebrating.

    Which I suppose brings me to my major point of disagreement with you, regarding your second point about how far we have to go. Don’t I know it. The road to total justice is a long and rocky one, and none of us is going to get there in our lifetimes. If we don’t celebrate the small victories along the way, we will have no celebrations at all, and without them we have little heart for the journey.

    My community organizing professors taught me, “After every action, have a party.” Never mind if all you did was move the ball a few inches up the field. Or get a runner on first. (I prefer the baseball analogy, both because it’s more accurate than “first down”–first down is your starting point, and we are farther along than a starting point–and because I like baseball better than football.) The point is that people need to take some time to be glad, especially people who face a grim fight like getting their marriage recognized before they die.

    The media, in this case, might be like the guys who wore white tie and rented limousines for our junior high graduation party. They were being ridiculous (though, hey, maybe it was the last graduation they expected to have . . . ) but that was no reason for others of us not to celebrate in our own modest way.

  2. Meant to add:

    So, let’s do a quick High-Five… and get back into the game

    I agree completely. 🙂

  3. Amy,

    Thank you for your thoughtful post…

    I too have heard that theory in community organizing… to have a “party” every time you achieve about anything… and I don’t believe it. I believe it feeds a form of social activism that is very fragile, and is focused on the ends and not on the ideals.

    This could and should probably be a whole ‘nother article… but let me see if I can put it clearly. I think we need to move away from “Ends based Social Activism” and move towards centering social activism as a spiritual practice. Ends based social activism centers the source of meaning in achievement, and leads to significant disillusionment when said ends are not achieved. Countless times I’ve been in counseling with activists over the results of ends not achieved.

    Also, it means activists tend to magnify the results of “ends” when they occur, because they want to feel the most meaning they can from an accomplishment. When that occurs, you see people also step away from the practice of activism, because they have “won, and now want to enjoy the spoils”.

    Just compare the 2008 and the 2010 elections and you will see my point. And the results of ends-based social activism will have profound impact on our country for years to come in that election.

    We need to get away from thinking about the ends when we seek to discern the meaning of our social activism, and move towards centering social activism as a part of our spiritual practices…

    Yours in faith,


  4. I’m a Chaplain with the British Army and think your piece is really insightful. Keep up the good work and we’re watching the game very closely this side of the pond!

  5. Pingback: Troy Davis, faith lived out, and other UU blogging « uuworld.org : The Interdependent Web

Leave a Reply

Post Navigation

%d bloggers like this: