Feb 03 2010

Politics of Social Change, or Molasses in Winter

If ever I thought the entertainment industry was full of “hurry up and wait,” I have only to look at Capitol Hill.

Last week (Wednesday, January 28, to be exact) marked the end of the first stage of Perry v. Schwarzenegger, the federal trial over Proposition 8 and its ban on same-sex marriage.  According to The New York Times, Chief Judge Vaughn R. Walker is expected to hear final arguments in March before making a decision within 90 days.  Even then, the case is expected to be appealed clear through to the Supreme Court regardless of who triumphs in the intervening rounds.  We’ll have to wait until the end of that epic court case to really have an answer to this struggle.  Estimated time of arrival at the Big Court?  Fall 2011.

Also making news this past week has been Obama’s push to lift the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” ban on gays serving openly in the military.  According to an AP article:

It’s time to repeal the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy and allow gay troops to serve openly for the first time in history, the nation’s top defense officials declared Tuesday, with the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff proclaiming that service members should not be forced to “lie about who they are.”

However, both Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Joint Chiefs Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen asked for a year to study the impact before Congress would lift the controversial policy. (Flaherty)

The Pentagon’s wording in asking for an 11-month study on “how” (not “whether”) to lift the ban has angered conservatives in both parties.  All the same, the study hasn’t begun yet.  Estimated time of arrival?  Mid-Late 2011.

The real kicker in this case is that the government already commissioned an updated report from the RAND Corporation detailing the most effective implementation of a policy reversal for “don’t ask, don’t tell.”  The report offers several guidelines including stressing correct immediate behavior over esoteric concepts like tolerance and placing the burden on the leadership from the top down to support and reassure troops. (Domi)

While it’s heartening to see the wheels turning on these very necessary and overdue social changes, the sheer amount of time it takes to clear the red tape and soothe outdated, conservative sensibilities is moderately maddening.  In the end, though, I suppose it’s all about making this a better place for posterity, for our children and our children’s children.


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