First hand report from the Log Cabin v. DADT trial in Riverside

Timothy Kincaid

July 22nd, 2010

I hope Karen Ocamb and LGBT POV will forgive me for lifting so much from Tom Carpenter’s excellent summary of the trial, but it is so concise and clear that I just couldn’t edit it. Tom is a lawyer and a board member of the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network.

The White and Case lawyers [representing LCR] have really outgunned the government and they have put on an excellent case.

I saw the end of fellow Naval Academy grad Jenny Kopfstein’s testimony and she brought tears to my eyes.

She was followed by Larry Korb who qualified well, and as a Reagan DOD Assistant Secretary of Defense was very impressive. His testimony was clear that DADT was wrong when it became law in 1993 and has reduced military readiness and retention, as well as unit morale and cohesion. The government didn’t lay a glove on him and he was able to take on the lawyer who was cross examining him. As a trial lawyer, he made me feel sorry for the young lawyer who was clearly out of his league.

Alex Nicholson, the executive director of Servicemembers United and named plaintiff, was next. He was his usual articulate self and very skillfully turned the questions on the government lawyer who was attempting to cross-examine him. The only hit he took was when the government had him admit he was only on active duty for 9 months and never received an Military Occupational Specialty as a linguist or human intelligence gatherer. Not much.

Alex was followed by Dr. Allan Okros, a retired Canadian 0-6 who has worked for the military in uniform or as a civilian for 33 years. He is an expert on personnel issues and was a contemporary of Charlie Moskos, the father of DADT. He testified about the cultural and ethical similarities between the Canadian Forces and the US. He described the lifting of the ban in Canada as a “nonevent.” Based upon that experience, he testified that, with proper leadership, the result would be the same in the US. He is one of the best experts I have seen on gays in the military.

The last witness I saw was Tony Leverde a former USAF SSgt. He testified about what it was like to not hide your sexual orientation at the same time as not violating DADT. He was respected by his peers and subordinates, most of whom knew or suspected he was gay, even though he never admitted it. He was able to testify over objection that his honesty and being himself actually improved his relationship with fellow service members and enhanced unit morale. Didn’t see his cross but from watching the Judges reaction she seemed impressed.

Today was closing arguments, and a judgment could come in a few months, well before Congress and the review committee and the President and the Chairmen of the Joint Chiefs decide at some unspecified time in the future that the Military may possibly be ready to allow gay men and women to serve openly.


July 23rd, 2010

Hats off to LCR for bringing this case before a judge. Credit where credit is due – and our side seems to be making a very solid case.

Interesting piece from Rachel Maddow’s show that showcased a survey taken back in 1947 very similar, if not containing even more objectionable questions to the current DADT survey by the Pentagon. A wide majority of service members back then objected to serving with African Americans and even Jews!

Truman basically decided anyway to integrate the services, told the Pentagon to get with the program – and voila – a professional armed service did what a professional armed service would be expected to do: they implemented the C.I.C.’s orders.

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