Months after "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" (DADT) was tossed to the history books, one group of queer thinkers is still engaged in a debate over the policy, which banned gay and lesbian soldiers from serving openly.
Against Equality, a queer publishing collective and archive, released its new book, Against Equality: Don't Fight Their Wars, with a special panel by collective members and contributors at Mess Hall in Rogers Park April 21.
The book is a glossy pocket-sized critique of the movement to repeal DADT, which writers argue undermined the anti-war movement by rallying progressive communities around the military.
The thrust of the bookand Against Equality's missionis to work toward a world that queer people desire, rather than toward inclusion in one that is deeply flawed, said Ryan Conrad, a co-founder of Against Equality and editor of the book.
"There is still this question of militarism that is happening in every facet of our lives," said Conrad, adding that the impact of the movement to repeal DADT lives on.
Yasmin Nair, who also co-founded the collective and contributed to the book, points to Lt. Dan Choi as an example. (Disclosure: Nair is longtime writer for Windy City Times.) Nair argues that anti-war activists like Democracy Now's Amy Goodman abandoned their peaceful values to support Choi and others who were ejected from the military because they are gay.
The result, said Nair, was "demand for fair treatment in an institution that is unfair to the rest of the world."
Karma Chávez, an Against Equality member, said that the underlying issue is that involvement in the U.S. military has become synonymous with national belonging, both for LGBT people and non-citizens.
Chávez pointed to the timing of the "Dream Act," which would have allowed some who immigrated to the U.S. as minors legal residency by either going to college or giving two years service to the military.
One function of DADT, said Chávez, was "to provide more credence to the 'Dream Act' military component."
Erica Meiners, professor at Northeastern Illinois University, spoke against the militarization of high schools, which increasingly offer ROTC (Army Reserve Officers' Training Corps) programs.
Meiners believed such programs often target schools with high numbers of students of color and immigrants, providing the only alternative to students who cannot get into restricted enrollment schools in Chicago.
"This is kind of the choice of no choice," said Meiners.
Approximately 15 people attended the book release discussion, which ended with a question-and-answer session.
The DADT book is the second of three books to be released by Against Equality, published by the collective itself. Their first book, Against Equality: Queer Critiques of Gay Marriage, was published in 2010. The collective is currently working on a book on prisons.
More information on Against Equality and book purchase is available at www.againstequality.org .