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Archive for July, 2010

DADT Survey Focuses on Discrimination Against Gay Service Members and Living Quarters

July 09, 2010 By: jaysays Category: DADT, Featured

"We Will Not Be Silent." Don't Ask Don't Tell ("DADT")The Department of Defense has sent surveys to roughly 400,000 active and reserve service members to obtain information on how a repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell will affect them, their unit and the readiness of our nation’s military.  Of note is the fact that no such survey was done to implement the discriminatory policy.

The survey begins innocuously enough with questions about living quarters for the service member, marital/relationship status, and questions about whether they feel their unit works together as a team.  It doesn’t get into the full meat of the issues until page 10 when the statement is made in blue highlight, “Throughout this survey, “gay and lesbian” and “homosexual” are used interchangeably.”  The first question under this heading gave me a start, “Do you currently serve with a male or female Service member you believe to be homosexual?”  It continues, asking about all the units the Service member has served under with the same question – do you believe someone is gay?  It then goes on to ask how believing such person to be gay affected the unit’s ability to work together, morale and performance.

It was painful for me to get through the survey.  With each question I felt the sting of discrimination, but gained insight into the ideology of why people are so frightened to work with a gay person.  Concerns, as indicated by the survey, range from the inability to hold Service members to high standards in spite of their sexual orientation; the inability to treat Service members equally because of their sexual orientation; the inability to set sexual orientation aside when considering opportunities to be provided to the Service members, etc… etc…

Eventually though, the survey goes to the living quarters issue.  It asks the following question:

If Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell is repealed and you are assigned to share a room, berth or field tent with someone you believe to be a gay or lesbian Service member, which are you most likely to do?

The options provided do not include, “beat the f*ggot;” however, such could be listed under “something else” and filled into a provided blank.

In the end, the survey generally focuses on two issues regarding the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell: (1) will gays serving openly be afforded the same opportunities as heterosexual Service members (i.e. will they face discrimination); and (2) will gays will make heterosexual Service members uneasy?

In response to the first issue, it seems to me that discrimination being condoned by commanding officers, the U.S. Congress and the U.S. President should be our first concern.  Once the discrimination is no longer sanctioned by the government, we can then confront the social and intra-rank aspects.

As to the second point, I invoke Estelle Gette’s character, Sophia, from the Golden Girls:  Picture it, Afghanistan, 2010.  An improvised explosive device has just charred dozens of innocent people on the street.  Three soldiers run to assist the wounded, carry them off for treatment and contain the scene.  They are exhausted, emotionally drained, a wreck… yet the gay soldier, all he can think about is getting back to the barracks so that he can check out the homophobic Service member’s tiny man part in the shower… yeah, that makes sense.

The full text of the survey can be found here.

Stupid Things People Say About Gays, “I Just Can’t Work With F*gs.”

July 09, 2010 By: jaysays Category: Featured, Stupid Things People Say About Gays

If you follow gay news as much as I do, you’ve likely been overwhelmed with the plethora of happy endings happening all over the country: New York state passed anti-bullying legislation; in the Gill case, the Federal Court ruled that Section 3 of DOMA is unconstitutional; two proteins were isolated that makes a cure for HIV/AIDS much less fantasy and much more plausible; the Today Show caved to pressure to remove the heterosexuals only rule from it’s Modern Wedding Contest; and those wacky Presbyterians might let gays be clergy and have sex too! All of this was enough to cause my head to spin in circles while trying to pick the next blog post.

But one headline caught my attention that wasn’t happy news.  The “HK bar Bull Moose Saloon” in New York City, which recently re-opened as a gay bar, suddenly suffered a set-back when one of the investors (and owner),  decided he couldn’t work with gays.  While it’s possible that the brilliance of homosexuals made him feel inferior as a businessman, the owner’s banishment of gay clientele and the gay investors was much more likely the result of his own homosexuality. (Ok, I admit I’m stretching it there – but not much).

According to a “friend of a friend” styled blog posting over at the Village Voice, Dave Sheeran, the owner in question, locked out the gay investor initially claiming that he didn’t expect the bar to be so loud; however, according to the linked blog, Sheeran later admitted, “I just can’t work with f*gs.”  It’s outrageous, isn’t it?  To think that in 2010 a New York City bar owner would make such a declaration about who he can and cannot work with?  However, comments on the blog call into question the truth of the story as Sheeran has not responded to inquiries.  Now, we can tolerate the news, can’t we?  It may not be true so it seems easier to swallow.

Whether or not Dave Sheeran made these comments, we should be outraged, but not just by Dave Sheeran.  We should be outraged that the United State’s number one employer stamps “I just can’t work with f*gs,” into law and fired 428 employees in 2009 because of their sexual orientation.  I’m referring, of course, to the U.S. Military.  The Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy does exactly what Sheeran has allegedly done.  It denies gays and lesbians employment because of their sexual orientation based on the theory of “I just can’t work” with the gays.  Barack Obama, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton (who’s administration implemented the discriminatory policy) have all declared, “I just can’t work with f*gs,” by allowing it to remain policy.

We’ve also been fighting for a fully inclusive employment non-discrimination act.  Many have declared ENDA dead, but others are refusing to give up the fight.  This piece of legislation would, if we can get it out of the legislative black hole, protect people like Sheeran’s investors from being discriminated against based solely on their sexual orientation.  The roughly 26% of Americans who remain critical of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (“ENDA”) argue that sexual orientation and gender identity are choices and not protection of a class of people.  However the current ENDA already protects based upon many “suspect class” identifiers, including religion.

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I Hereby Command You… (but Will I Defend You?)

July 01, 2010 By: jaysays Category: DADT, Featured

Lt Dan ChoiThe Uniform Code of Military Justice applies to members of the armed forces.  The Code sets out the laws that each member of the services is bound to follow.  It enumerates offenses and punishments much like the Penal Code does for non-military citizens, and includes Article 92, which criminalizes the failure to obey an order or regulation.

Often, commanders issue general orders to those in their command.  The person receiving the order must carry it out.  If they do not carry out the order, they could then be charged under the Article 92 provisions and would be subject to court-martial.

Sub Chapter X. Punitive Article


Any person subject to this chapter who–

(1) violates or fails to obey any lawful general order or regulation; [emphasis added]

(2) having knowledge of any other lawful order issued by any member of the armed forces, which it is his duty to obey, fails to obey the order; or

(3) is derelict in the performance of his duties;

shall be punished as a court-martial may direct.

“I was only following orders.”  We’ve historically heard that argument so often that we’ve almost become immune to it.  From Nazi Germany to Abu Ghraib, soldiers have heralded the defense for all sorts of atrocious acts of human rights violations.  Even Hollywood has adopted the defense for some of their greatest hits, like A Few Good Men.

On June 1, 2009, President Barack Obama, the Commander and Chief of the U.S. Armed Forces, issued a proclamation declaring June Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Month.  The proclamation outlined laws and inequities suffered by LGBT people, including a call for “ending the existing ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ policy in a way that strengthens our Armed Forces and our national security.”

Twenty-eight days after that statement, on June 29, 2009, the President reiterated his support for the repeal of the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy:

And finally, I want to say a word about ‘don’t ask, don’t tell.’  As I said before — I’ll say it again — I believe ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ doesn’t contribute to our national security.  In fact, I believe preventing patriotic Americans from serving their country weakens our national security.  Now, my administration is already working with the Pentagon and members of the House and the Senate on how we’ll go about ending this policy, which will require an act of Congress.

On October, 10, 2009, the Commander of the United States Armed Forces, Barack Obama, issued his “order.”

If we are honest with ourselves we’ll admit that there are too many who do not yet know in their lives or feel in their hearts the urgency of this struggle. That’s why I continue to speak about the importance of equality for LGBT families — and not just in front of gay audiences. That’s why Michelle and I have invited LGBT families to the White House to participate in events like the Easter Egg Roll — because we want to send a message. And that’s why it’s so important that you continue to speak out, that you continue to set an example, that you continue to pressure leaders — including me — and to make the case all across America.

Captain James Pietrangelo and Lt. Dan Choi heard the order of the President and acted by chaining themselves to the fence in front of the White House.  For “following orders” they were arrested.  Now, as the two prepare to confront the criminal charges at trial, the President’s testimony has become relevant in their defense.  They have issued a subpoena for the President to appear and testify; however, service of the subpoena on the President was not made as guards at the White House refused the process server entry.

Attorneys for Pietrangelo and Choi issued a memo explaining the rational for the subpoena:

[Pietrangelo and Choi] seek to compel the testimony of President Barack Obama who has, on several occasions as President and Commander in Chief (and previously as a Senator and Presidential Candidate) called on the LGBT community to “pressure” him to change the DADT law and policy, thus allowing gay servicemembers to serve their country openly and honorably.

The subpoena of the President is necessary for the defense to prove that Defendants were following and obeying lawful orders or directives by their President and Commander in Chief, and were therefore under an obligation and authority to act as they did in order to pressure him – in a non-violent, visible way – on this important public issue. In addition, these statements support the contention that Defendants were acting out of necessity, in order to prevent discrimination and greater harm to gay servicemembers now serving.

Obviously, there are problems with a subpoena issued to a sitting president and, generally, presidents have not complied with or have made other arrangements to testify when a subpoena is issued for their appearance.  It is highly unlikely that, even if served, Obama would be subject to the subpoena.  However, regardless of your feelings toward the “gay rights movement” or more direct action type activism such as that employed by Pietrangelo and Choi, you must admit that it was a pretty smart maneuver and an interesting use of the “following orders” defense.