Saturday, December 18, 2010, the Senate of the United States voted twice on the Lieberman-Collins bill, once to bring cloture to the debate on the bill, and therefore to end the Republican filibuster, and once on the bill itself, at 3:00 pm. The first passed 63-33, and the second 65-31. It is not often when these things happen—when civil rights are recognized or restored or expanded—and, when it happened, I was in front of CPAN2 watching.

The greatest share of the victory belongs to President Obama, who has been beating a drum on this issue for the last three years, creating a climate in which it was possible for it to happen, and to the Congressional leaders, who effectively marshaled their forces in the Congress. But many people have been saying that the hardest push was made by grassroots activists, who kept up the pressure on Obama and on Congress, and who made it happen.

So it is going to be repealed. But in this moment, it is important for us who are here to be determined to remember all those who are not here, who fought for this and other advances of gay rights, and who died or were killed before those advances could be achieved, the men and women who were hounded out of the Armed Forces or were murdered by anti-gay homophobes, or who died from AIDS because the federal government was not pushing prevention programs.

It is important to remember that the damage that DADT did to gay people between 1993 and today is still affecting people, the psychic and physical hurt still causing pain, the experience of many men and women still part of the sum of human suffering. We can’t say, as we have said about other things, We don’t hurt people that way any more, and expect to move on to other issues. The men and women who survived that period, many of them, still live, and it is certain that those men and women still suffer their wounds from that time. We can’t leave those men and women to be the only ones who remember how bad it was.