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Archive for the ‘DADT’

HRC’s Eric Alva Speaks about DADT and Obama’s Defense of Policy

October 17, 2010 By: jaysays Category: DADT, Featured

"We Will Not Be Silent." Don't Ask Don't Tell ("DADT")Marine Staff Sgt. Eric Alva (Ret.) was the first American wounded in the war in Iraq when, on March 21, 2003, while traveling to Basra, he stepped on a land mine.  In 2006, Sgt. Alva began working with the Human Rights Campaign, the “largest” LGBT Rights organization, to speak out against the military’s now (but likely temporarily) halted “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy (DADT). He now tours nationally for the organization and continues to lecture about DADT.

On Friday, October 15, 2010, just days after a Federal Judge ordered an injunction against enforcement of the unconstitutional policy, the Gay and Lesbian Association of San Antonio College hosted a lecture by Sgt. Alva as part of their Coming Out Week events.

Sgt. Alva began his lecture by discussing his tenure in the military and its abrupt and tragic end, with the triggering of the land mine.  He went on to explain that, after his medical discharge, he contacted the HRC to find out how he can work with them to educate and inspire a repeal of DADT.  Not only did his lecture included his personal experiences working toward a repeal, but he also used the opportunity to address the division within the LGBT community, stating that he never refers to us as a “community,” but instead prefers to refer to us as a “populace” because of our varied lifestyles, opinions, culture, etc.

It is very likely that the Department of Justice will appeal the lower court’s decision to the 9th circuit in an effort to halt a judicial repeal of the policy.  If such appeal is perfected, it means that the Obama Administration is attempting to keep the policy in place, rather than repeal it as has been stated by Obama to be his goal.  You can read more about that issue, here, including discussion of other cases which were not appealed by the justice department.

Sgt. Alva, in addressing the recent injunction, Obama’s appeal of the decision and the fact that Obama has continued to refuse to sign an executive order ending the policy, stated, “I do not want Obama to sign an executive order, ending don’t ask, don’t tell.”  He went on to explain that, if the president chose to end the policy it would put an end to the discussions; discussions he believes are important in light of the recent and highly publicized LGBT youth suicides.

DADT has been the policy of the United States Military for approximately 17 years.  Prior to implementation of the policy, the military’s policy was simply, you can’t serve if you’re gay.

Marine Staff Sgt. Eric Alva was the first American wounded in the war in Iraq. On March 21, 2003
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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.

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.

VIDEO: Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Protests Interrupt Obama Fundraising – Dan Choi and Others in Chains Again

April 20, 2010 By: jaysays Category: DADT, Featured

GetEQUAL activists interrupted President Barack Obama during a speech designed to raise funds for California Senator Barbara Boxer’s re-election campaign.  The group shouted for the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, the U.S. Military’s policy prohibiting openly gay soldiers from serving this country.

President Obama attempted to regain control of the speech and stay on topic, by acknowledging the group, then returning to endorsements for Senator Boxer.  Early on during the interruption, Obama states:

I don’t know why you have to holler, we already hear you.

Thereafter, Obama continually advises the group that he supports the repeal of don’t ask, don’t tell, but again reiterates his inquiry:

Barbara and I are supportive of a repeal of don’t ask don’t tell, so I don’t know why you are hollering.

But support doesn’t equate to action, and therein lies the problem.

In what is becoming typical fashion for GetEQUAL organizers, bicoastal events were held.  The day after the group interrupted Obama in Los Angeles, Dan Choi, Autumn Sandeen and 4 others chained themselves to the the gates of the White House [photo by David Mailloux of dymsum]:

Repeal DADT GetEQUAL: Protestors outside of the White House

CNN has some video footage of the chained veterans available here.

Army Secretary McHugh’s Big Fat April Fool’s Joke on the Gay Community.

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

"We Will Not Be Silent." Don't Ask Don't Tell ("DADT")When reports hit the blogosphere that Army Secretary, John McHugh, was ceasing prosecutions under the military’s Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell law, there were more questions than answers.  But before our minds could fully wrap themselves around the implications, Secretary McHugh backtracked, stating that:

With regard to the three soldiers who shared their views and thoughts with me on ‘Don’t Ask Don’t Tell’, I might better have counseled them that statements about their sexual orientation could not be treated as confidential and could result in their separation under the law. [emphasis added]

That’s right, Secretary McHugh totally pulled a take-backsy. Roughly translated, McHugh acknowledges that they will still fire military members from their employment, based solely on that person’s sexual orientation – talk about a need for an inclusive “Employer Non-Discrimination Act!” Further, McHugh likely realized the potential backlash from conservative America should he decide not to prosecute homosexuals.

Secretary McHugh needs to learn the rules of April Fool’s jokes – you can’t just outright lie about something until 12:00 midnight on April 1st.  If you do, your April Fool’s joke is invalid.  So, if I have this right, Secretary McHugh’s take-backsy is void and his earlier statements about a moratorium on DADT remain in full force and effect.

As far reaching as that argument may seem, it’s still as rational as the arguments by opponent’s of a repeal on Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell who claim that, based upon their interpretation of words translated by politicians (i.e. King James), and according to their imaginary friend in the sky, gay is bad and should therefore be prosecuted.

GetEQUAL Goes to Jail, But Passes Go.

March 18, 2010 By: jaysays Category: DADT, Featured, LGBT Action Alerts, LGBT News, Uncategorized

Today, I learned that action is inspiring.  Tomorrow, I hope to learn that it’s also contagious.

As my facebook, twitter and email exploded today with little clips of the DADT Rally, I marveled at an act of well timed genius.  While the HRC was negotiating equality with the well-oiled political machine, the people were speaking.  Grassroots activists took to the streets refusing to negotiate their rights… our rights.

When the group of marchers reached the steps of the White House, Robin McGehee assisted Lt. Dan Choi and Capt. Jim Pietrangelo as they handcuffed themselves to the gates and demanded a repeal of the militant Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy established under the Clinton regime.  For her assistance, Robin was thanked with a set of charming silver bracelets becoming the first arrest of the day.

Simultaneous demonstrations were underway.  By 3:00 p.m. activists such as Kip Williams were staging “sit-ins” inside Nancy Pelosi’s offices in San Francisco and Washington, D.C. demanding an inclusive ENDA be taken to the floor for a vote.

But now tweets bounce back to Lt. Choi – he and Capt. Pietrangelo have been cut down from the gates and arrested.  My Spanish Novellas are suddenly much less dramatic than my twitter feed.  Gay, Inc. and their supporters are pissed and claiming that the jouvenile acts of today set us back, are immature and make us look crazy.

Now, not only do I have to wrap my head around one of the most important moments in LGBT History, I now have to think of it in terms of “politics.”  Am I not allowed to simply be proud of my brothers and sisters?  Must I now think in terms of political strategy.

But what has that political strategy been – what has it done for us at the Federal Level?  It’s the same kind of political strategy used during the Clinton Administration to keep him in office as an LGBT friendly president while allowing him to pass Don’t Ask Don’t Tell as a compromise to our rights.  It’s the same kind of political strategy used that allowed the same LGBT friendly Clinton to pass the Defense of Marriage Act.

I’m tired of negotiating my rights.  I will not stop until my personal life is deregulated.  It’s time to GetEQUAL.

Senate Majority Leader Endorses National Equality March, Repeal of DADT and Passage of ENDA

October 03, 2009 By: jaysays Category: DADT, Hate Crimes, Headline, iQreport, LGBT News, Marriage Equality

harryreidNationalEqualityMarchSenate Majority Leader Harry Reid (NV) has been busy lately fighting for social justice, health care reform and the rights and promotion of a peaceful society.  In a September 30, 2009 letter to Derek Washington, Director of Diversity Outreach for the National Equality March, Senator Reid states:

I will continue to work tirelessly to pass the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Act and the Employee Non-Discrimination Act, as well as to repeal the “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” policy. I will also continue to advocate for funding of HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment, research, and housing programs.

His letter goes on to state:

I believe that every American should be treated equally under the law regardless of religion, sexual orientation, gender, race, or other forms of identity. I see your struggle for equality as part of a larger movement for peace and social justice.

Harry Reid has really stepped up to the plate as a “fierce advocate” for social justice and is truly filling the shoes once worn by Ted Kennedy.  Please be sure to let Sen. Reid know how much we appreciate his work and offer your support as he battles for the rights of all Americans.

Vandals Attempt to Silence Pro-LGBT Messages.

September 28, 2009 By: jaysays Category: DADT, Featured, Hate Crimes, LGBT News

Former marine, Tim Smith, is one of the many who have risked their life to defend this country’s freedom.  However, in spite of his heroism, he was discharged under the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT) policy.  Having served in the marines, Tim Smith is no stranger to fighting.  Rather than just roll over in the face of his discharge, he chose to become the face for a Memphis area billboard:MGLCCprevandal

Unfortunately, this particular billboard was attacked by vandals on Friday night. All that remains visible are the faded faces of past messages:


This act wasn’t the only bit of vandalism that occurred this weekend. The Equality Texas offices were attacked as well. Vandals left the office contents, but shattered the facade:


In spite of the efforts of vandals, our message remains. We are still standing and we must continue the fight for civil equality until we can proudly change our message to a victory cry: “Mission Accomplished.” We too shall overcome.

Equality Texas is seeking contributions to help pay for the damage to the center.  While insured, the coverage is for contents only and a lease exclusion makes the organization responsible for damage to glass.  If you can help, please donate to Equality Texas.

Hope After the Rejection of Hearings on DADT by the Court

June 08, 2009 By: jaysays Category: DADT, LGBT News

DADT - We Will Not Be SilentEven Fox News is reporting the Supreme Court’s refusal to hear arguments on the constitutionality of the Clinton-era Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy [See:Don’t ask, don’t tell challenge rejected], stating:

The Supreme Court on Monday turned down a challenge to the Pentagon policy forbidding gays and lesbians from serving openly in the military, granting a request by the Obama administration. [Emphasis Added]

However, LGBT activists have an alternative method of overturning this biased and unconstitutional piece of tainted American history, H.R. 1283, the Military Readiness Enhancement Act of 2009 [“MREA”].  The MREA was introduced in the House and has 143 sponsors, only one of which is a Republican,  Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida. The bill has been referred to committee.  Open Congress says this, about the bill:

Military Readiness Enhancement Act of 2009 – Repeals current Department of Defense (DOD) policy concerning homosexuality in the Armed Forces. Prohibits the Secretary of Defense, and the Secretary of Homeland Security with respect to the Coast Guard when it is not operating as a service in the Navy, from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation against any member of the Armed Forces or any person seeking to become a member. Authorizes the re-accession into the Armed Forces of otherwise qualified individuals previously separated for homosexuality, bisexuality, or homosexual conduct. Requires such Secretaries to ensure that regulations governing the personal conduct of members of the Armed Forces are written and enforced without regard to sexual orientation.

While the legislature attempts to limit the powers of the Supreme Court with bills such as H.R.  1269, which effectively states that the Courts do not have the power to rule on the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act, hope remains that the legislature will act constitutuionally and pass the Military Readiness Enhancement Act of 2009.

Contact your representative today and request their support of this legislation.

Obama Puts Don’t Ask Don’t Tell in the Closet

March 29, 2009 By: jaysays Category: DADT, LGBT News

In a sad and twisted moment, the Obama Administration has decided to delay the repeal of the military’s Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy until 2010.  The policy, implemented during the Clinton Administration, prevents gays and lesbians from serving openly in the military.  Should it become known that they are homosexual, they loose their jobs.

This turn reeks the foulness that was the Clinton Administration – court the gays, liberals and progressives, get their votes, then continue to deny them the very thing that was promised, blatantly.

You may recall Robert Gates’ YouTube video wherein he was asked if the administration would repeal the current Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy.  His response was simple, yet to the point, “Yes.”  But now, excuses for not overturning the policy seem to be all the action being taken by the administration:

This is a considerable slap in the face after the U.S. finally decided to sign the U.N. Declaration calling for the decriminalization of homosexuality.  Although a positive move forward, the administration stated that the signing of the declaration would have no impact on existing U.S. law – presumably should it have had an effect, the U.S. would have continued the policy of bigotry and left the declaration on human rights unsigned.

Upon completion of this post, I will go out to my car, which has proudly displayed an Obama pin in the rear view mirror since the election, and remove it.  I may even run over it a few times (100 or so) just to make sure my point is made.  To Obama, to America, to the free “god” loving citizens of the world, I am nothing if I am not denied.  Yet they demand my respect, my complacency and flinch at any signs of anger or resentment for what this country, it’s people and the present and past administrations are doing.

Some may say that we should be patient.  Some may say that overturning Don’t Ask Don’t Tell or providing any rights denied LGBT people should wait due to the pressing matters of the economy, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the overall chaos the world has fallen into; however, there comes a time when we have to demand human rights and decency be put first in the list of our priorities, otherwise, something else will always be more important.