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He still needs to see just what sort of proposal the White House and Pentagon has in mind, but Sen. Orrin Hatch, the Republican from Utah, says he won’t stand for prejudice of any kind, and that includes prohibiting gays from serving openly in the military.
Moreover, the doesn’t believe this crap about how once you let the gays have their rights, everyone is going to start asking for “special rights.”
This is fantastic. What you have, here, is a senior Republican senator backing an effort for equality (and disagreeing with a one Sen. John McCain, who supports continued discrimination). This is the same man who voted (twice) to ban gay marriage at the federal level, against adding sexual orientation to federal hate crimes statutes, and told Utah’s GOP they should be proud because “we don’t have the gays and lesbians with us.”
The announcement arrives on the same day as Gen. Colin Powell’s fullest endorsement yet of a DADT repeal. Also huge.
Which leaves only one thing to be decided: How will anti-DADT groups like Servicemembers United, Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, the Gay & Lesbian Activists Alliance, and yes, even HRC exploit and build upon this momentum to get other conservatives (and that includes Democrats) to join the effort, and continue to mount pressure on lawmakers to speed things up?
(For example: Reach out to conservative black lawmakers, and show them how DADT disproportionately affects black women. Talk to congressmen and women who have children serving in the armed forces, and engage them in a dialogue about how the policy can help keep their kids safe — all the while references Powell and Hatch. Which isn’t to say these groups aren’t already doing this, but the fruit has never been more ripe.)
Moreover, these groups must learn whether legislators like Hatch, who profess to “want to do what’s right” about discriminatory laws, can be counted on for support of other equality measures.