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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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Stupid Things People Say About Gays: Libertarian Party Board Member Says DADT Should Remain

September 27, 2010 By: jaysays Category: Headline, Stupid Things People Say About Gays

Although the Libertarian party has often pressed Congress on the repeal of the military’s Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy, a recent internal email from one of the party’s Board Members, Norm Olsen of Region 4, argues against the repeal, stating that, “The heterosexual soldier has a right to be free from unwanted sexual advances.”  Here’s the full text of his “P.S.” remarks from a copy of the leaked email (all errors his own):

PS> This is written by a Libertarian individual who believes the that the ‘Don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy is fine and appropriate.  I realize this will ruffle a whole flock of feathers.  Please hear me out.

My son serves in the military, and is currently deployed in Afghanistan. While joining the military was his choice, the conditions of his deployment are not of his choice.  With whom he is deployed is not his choice.  I suggest that he and all other heterosexuals who have volunteered to serve for whatever reason have a right to be free from unwanted sexual advances. Under normal conditions, he could separate himself from such advances, or physically defend himself from such advances.  Neither is appropriate or applicable in the combat situation; especially under those conditions where his physical safety is in jeopardy; specifically those case where he is dependent upon others for his survival.

The heterosexual soldier has a right to be free from unwanted sexual advances.  It is said that the homosexual has a right to serve his country. In the ‘you and me alone in a foxhole situation’, you have two rights in conflict.  You must solve to the highest level of morality.  In the case of the heterosexual soldier, the morality is ‘I own my own body’.  In the case of the gay soldier, the right is ‘I have a right to serve’.  Which right holds the higher moral ground.  No question in my mind.

The ‘Don’t ask,. don’t tell’ policy is a comprise here.  If non-heterosexual individuals do not exhibit homosexual behavior in military situations, no one cares what their sexual proclivities are.  If, however, they do insist on exhibiting sexual behavior in situations where such is militarily inappropriate, the right to serve loses to the higher moral ground: the right of those in a situation not of their choosing to own their own body. It could very well be that in certain cases this is not the manner in which the ‘Don’t’ ask, don’t tell’ policy is implemented, but improper implementation in certain cases does not invalidate the policy as a whole.

This is simply protecting the rights of the heterosexual soldier to be free from unwanted sexual advances in situations over which the heterosexual soldier has absolutely no choice or control; the only alternative being the firing squad for desertion.  Further, the ‘Don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy is fairly liberal.  Homosexuals are free to join the military, serve their country, and to improve their lives using the many benefits offered by the government to those who serve in the military.  Heterosexuals are entitled to the same rights and benefits, without having to give up their right to own their own bodies.

Mr. Olsen’s statements are based upon a lot of assumptions/stereotypes.  For example, he assumes that his son is so attractive to gay men that they cannot resist the urge to continually badger him with sexual advances.  He also stereotypes homosexuals (and in his story he appears to specifically target gay men) by indicating that they will “exhibit homosexual behavior in military situations” because they do not have the ability to control themselves.

Apparently, Mr. Olsen is unaware of the current statistics regarding sexual abuse/assault in the military or that the Department of Defense developed the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Program to confront the problems that currently exist.  In fact, U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates made this announcement about sexual assault in the military (even though the U.S. Military doesn’t currently allow openly gay people to serve):

The Department has a no-tolerance policy toward sexual assault. This type of act not only does unconscionable harm to the victim; it destabilizes the workplace and threatens national security.

Now, if Mr. Olsen’s complaints weren’t already a serious problem in our military would Mr. Gates needed to have address the problem?  Would an agency such as the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Program need to exist?  No.

In 2009, there were 3,230 reports of sexual assault involving service members.  That’s very nearly 9 assaults per day!  A whopping 89% of all reported cases of sexual assault were made by women in the military, in spite of the fact that women make up only about 20% of the U.S. military.  Of the total reported sexual assaults, only 2% were committed by female personnel.

Education goes a long way Mr. Olsen, discrimination goes nowhere.

To contact Norm Olsen, call (303) 277-9967 or email region4rep@doneDad.com and/or Norman.Olsen@lp.org.

H/T to reader, Brian Miller, for the tip.

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LGBT Notable News Happenings (June 7, 2009 – June 12, 2009).

June 15, 2009 By: MJ Category: Featured, LGBT News

LGBT NewsSalt Lake Celebrates LGBT Pride (June 8, 2009)

There were brightly colored floats, rainbow banners, marching and dancing men and women in brightly colored attire.  This year the Utah Pride Center,  organizer of the celebration, also held a political rally in conjunction with the festival.  Grand marshal was LGBT activist Clive Jones – who incidentally thanked The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for supporting Proposition 8.  Clive said, “We thank you for unifying us as never before.  We thank you for teaching our young people that they must be prepared to fight for freedom.”  It is easy to feel like part of the fun – just go to the article and click the “play multimedia” link on the red and white striped face !!  Happy LGBT Pride month everybody!!

D.C. Pride Fest Honors Franklin Kameny (June 8, 2009)

Franklin Kameny is known as one of the original LGBT activists, and this year he was honored as a part of the Pride Fest in D.C.  Kameny was part of the first Gay Rights picket in front of the White House in October 1965 – and although he has been involved in many parts of the LGBT rights movement – he prefers to be remembered for coming up with the slogan “Gay is Good” in 1968.  The slogan is really very important to him.  Mr. Kameny said, “The phrase encapsulates the whole underlying driving force and rationale for everything that I’ve been involved in.”  Mr. Kameny is still quite active at the age of 84, and has been advising DC Council member David Catania on the gay marriage issue as well as continuing to lobby Congress to end D.A.D.T.   A volunteer group called the Kameny Papers Project donated more than 50,000 of his documents – which have been catalogued by the Library of Congress.   These are just a few of the ways in which Franklin Kameny has continued to enhance our movement.

Gay Man From Philippines Wins Asylum in CA (June 8, 2009)

Philip Belarmino is an English Professor from the Philippines, and taught there at university for 17 years.  He has been staying with his parents and his sister who are permanent residents in the Bay Area.  After his visitor’s visa expired in 2006 Professor Belarmino consulted an attorney in San Francisco and began his fight to stay in the U.S.  He had been sexually assaulted a number of times in the Philippines and he had been fearful of being subject to further abuse because of his sexuality if he would have been forced to return.  That was part of the court testimony heard by Judge Loreto Geisse who fortunately finally granted political asylum in the United States to Philip Belarmino.  This was not the Professor’s first attempt to stop his own deportation but this time it was successful!!!  During his celebration of asylum he also showed courage in another way – he “came out” to his own family for the first time.

The Supreme Court Rejects Challenge to DADT (June 8, 2009)

Former Army Capt. James Pietrangelo II, whose military career was forcibly ended by the unconstitutional law “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell”, had joined with others hoping to having D.A.D.T. overturned.  Kevin Nix – spokesman for the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network – responded by saying, “We don’t see that at all as bad news for repeal.  What happens today puts the ball back into the court of Congress and the White House to repeal the law, and that’s where we think it should be right now.”  Previously President Obama indicated he supported repealing the law and hopefully he will begin that process very soon.  Until then many LGBT military service personnel are still being fired from their careers unjustly.

First LGBT Pride Events for Shanghai (June 11, 2009)

The events are being organized by Shanghai LGBT – which is an association of English speaking expatriates.  Money raised by the Pride Events will go to the Hong Kong-based Chi Heng Foundation, which funds education for children orphaned by AIDS in central China.  In order to avoid the need for government permission “Shanghai Pride” will not include a colorful parade – and will be centered around events held in private venues.  Even with the use of private venues there is still concern that the government of China might show their presence and attempt to stop the celebrations.  The medical community in China officially stopped viewing Homosexuality as a mental disorder only as recently as 2001.  Hopefully our brothers and sisters have been having a great and proud time at Shanghai Pride #1 !!  We look forward to the year when they can celebrate loud and with full rainbow colors!

U.S. Officially Speaks Out Against Anti-Gay Violence in Iraq (June 11, 2009)

The U.S. embassy in Baghdad has come forward in raising the issue with Iraqi government officials.  State Department spokesman Ian Kelly has been speaking out directly to the Iraqi government as an official representative.  It is believed (at the time of the article) that as many as 25 boys and men have been killed in Baghdad alone – their only “crime” being that they were Gay or believed to be Gay.  Statistics are not available regarding girls or women who have been killed.  A previous article in this column mentioned that London-Based Amnesty International also wrote directly to Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki this past April.  Hopefully more voiced concerns along with even more powerful voices will begin to curb the violence against our LGBT brothers and sisters – and hopefully will also someday change the laws.

CA Gov. and Atty. Gen. Oppose Injunction Against Prop. 8 (June 12, 2009)

The Federal lawsuit already filed by David Boies and Theodore Olson also includes a request for an injunction to freeze the current Gay marriage ban in CA.  According to the article, “(Attorney General) Brown and (Governor) Schwarzenegger argued separately that it would create too much havoc to put the law on hold until the constitutional issues are resolved, perhaps eventually by the U.S. Supreme Court.”  If the injunction were granted – LGBT couples could resume marrying in California.  Attorney General Brown said that he agrees Proposition 8 “imposed a special disability on gays and lesbians and their families on the basis of sexual orientation.”  He also mentioned that it is in violation of the U.S. Constitution’s promise of equal protection and due process.  Actually the Merriam-Webster online dictionary defines “disability” as; “1 a:  the condition of being disabled;  b:  inability to pursue an occupation because of a physical or mental impairment.”  Possibly the Attorney General meant to use a different word in describing the lack of equality gays and lesbians and their families are experiencing.

Fed D.O.J. Dismisses Suit Filed by Gay Couple Married in CA (June 12, 2009)

This lawsuit was actually filed prior to the suit filed by the attorneys Boies and Olsen.  The first Fed lawsuit was filed to argue the case of Arthur Smelt and Christopher Hammer, who were legally married in California during 2008.  The recent ruling upholding the actions of Prop. 8 means their marriage is still legal, but their concern is the legality of their marriage in states other than California where LGBT marriage is not approved or is still illegal.  The U.S. Justice Department has filed the necessary motion to dismiss the case – the motion was filed on Thursday.  According to the article reported by the AP, “In a separate filing, the California attorney general moved Thursday to dismiss the state lawsuit by the same couple, saying Hammer and Smelt lack standing to sue because their marriage was unaffected in any way by the passage of Proposition 8, the voter-approved gay marriage ban.”  The case was originally in California state court before it went to Federal court.

pngwnz [photo coming soon]: jaysays.com contributor, MJ, a/k/a pngwnz, is an out lesbian with an affinity for the music of Phil Collins and Carole King. She has been an invaluable resource as a reader and idea bouncer-off-er [yeah, that’s the word we are using] and we are pleased to have her as part of the team!