Being a liberal in California meant that last November 4th was, unlike most of the rest of the United States, a bittersweet day that represented not only hope, on the part of Barack Obama (or, as I like to call him, Prez Barry), but also despair. Proposition 8 was the most highly recognized state proposition of three (the other two were in Arizona and Florida) that would oppose the legal union of couples of the same sex. It was a decently close battle, passing my a margin of 52-48 with a differential of about 600,000 votes. The Asian American vote was basically split down the middle, with 51% of Californian Asian Americans voting no on the ban.
Now the battle is being brought to the soldiers. Knights Out is an organization started by West Point grads fighting against the highly controversial “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy instated by President Clinton near 15 years ago that prohibits any open homosexual from serving their country. Headlining the group is recently outed Lieutenant Dan Choi, an Iraq War vet who studied Arabic when he was at West Point. To say that he was/is integral to the success of the fight is an understatement.
I remember reading reports years ago of how there aren’t enough soldiers who speak Arabic fluently to communicate with our Iraqi allies, or that if there were enough translators on 9/10, that the messages flying into the intelligence offices would’ve been translated and we would’ve known there was an impending attack. Under the current rules, someone like Dan Choi, who could prevent future terrorism, or help ease the Obama’s exit strategy, would be kicked out of service because of his sexual orientation.
It’s just interesting seeing how this plays out in the Asian American community, especially because the vote was so even in California, but that there’s now such an open and vocal proponent for LGBT rights. I mean if you want to see the dichotomy between the first generation of Asian parents teaching conservative principles and the second generation of Asian American children growing up on liberal ideas, you’ve got it right here.