Actual quote from Marine Pfc. Alex Tuck, as reported by The New York Times, on how he felt about the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”:
“Showers will be awkward. But as long as a guy can hold his own and protect his back, it won’t matter if [someone] is gay.”
As Congress scrambled through the final days before its holiday recess, the volume of legislation under consideration became almost unmanageable. Lame duck though it was — even lamer a duck than usual — the flurry of bipartisanship that only a looming vacation can inspire saw a record number of measures headed to the president’s desk.
Among the more groundbreaking was the repeal by the Senate Saturday of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” the military’s long-running game show in which losing participants see their careers reduced to ruin. After almost 20 years of a policy that allowed gays to serve in the armed forces as long as they marched instead of minced, homosexuals would be allowed to admit their sexual orientation — though they may want to think twice about doing it in a nation of Islamic fundamentalists.
Several Republicans broke party ranks and voted in favor of the repeal. And not just the gay ones. Meanwhile, Democrats in the House and Senate were nearly united in favoring the repeal, led by openly Democratic Rep. Barney Frank (Gay-Mass.).
But it was Republican Sen. Eric Newby of Wyoming who may have been the most surprising proponent of a new policy. He wants the enacting legislation called “Do Ask, Do Tell, Provide Video” (DADTPV).
“If there are men who actually participate in this kind of deviant behavior, I think they owe it to the public to be very openly gay,” Newby said. “I’d like to see videotape of just what’s going on here, so I can condemn it and condemn it until, well, who knows what will happen?”
With a full plate of bills to act on in just the few weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas, Congress is wasting little time. Legislators have sometimes been criticized in the past for not even reading the details of a measure. Now, there are many who don’t even have the vaguest idea of what’s coming up for a vote.
Take, for example, the START Treaty, designed to reduce the number of nuclear missiles held by both the U.S. and Russia. About half the opponents think it’s a preschool program, similar to Head Start, that would trade many of our nation’s two- and three-year-olds to Moscow for oil and natural gas resources. Others plan to oppose the treaty with a revised bill they’re calling STOP.
“It stands for ‘Something to Oppose Proliferation’ or ‘Something to Offset Pyroclasty,’ something like that,” said Rep. Eric Cantor. “So far, all we really have is the acronym, and even that is a work in process.”
Another measure subject to widespread confusion is the so-called DREAM Act. It would provide a path to citizenship for children of illegal immigrants who go to college or serve in the military. But that’s not how Rep. Joe Hampton (R-Tex.) sees it.
“A law that requires American citizens to file a daily report with the government on what they dreamed about the night before is just plain intrusive,” Hampton said. “What if I start dreaming about DADTPV?”
Two other proposals that representatives had hoped to act upon were a bill strengthening food safety regulations, and a fund set up to help cover health insurance costs of first responders to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
Perhaps inspired by the compromise that saw Democrats agree to temporary extension of the Bush-era tax cuts in return for an extension of unemployment benefits, legislators paired the seemingly unrelated plans together. It was Rep. Martin Mayo, D-Fla., who suggested combining the two issues and subjecting them to an up or down vote.
“Obviously, we’re in no position to fund a huge medical payout with the deficit so high,” Mayo said. “So how about if we instead offer a healthy snack to the brave firemen, policemen and EMTs who responded on that fateful day. We’ll overnight each of them a fruit basket from Harry and David’s. And we’ll bombard it with gamma radiation first to make sure it’s safe.”