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Posts for July, 2011

DADT Certification Is Done!

Jim Burroway

July 22nd, 2011

The certification letter signed by President Obama, Defense Secretary Panetta, and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mullen

The military ban on gay servicemembers serving openly known as “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” will officially pass into history on September 20, 2011. President Barack Obama signed the certification stating that the U.S. military is now fully prepared to end the policy with no harm to military readiness. The certification, which is required by the repeal law passed last December, starts a sixty day clock to final repeal.

The White House released the following statement from President Obama:

Today, we have taken the final major step toward ending the discriminatory ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ law that undermines our military readiness and violates American principles of fairness and equality.  In accordance with the legislation that I signed into law last December, I have certified and notified Congress that the requirements for repeal have been met.  ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ will end, once and for all, in 60 days—on September 20, 2011.

As Commander in Chief, I have always been confident that our dedicated men and women in uniform would transition to a new policy in an orderly manner that preserves unit cohesion, recruitment, retention and military effectiveness.  Today’s action follows extensive training of our military personnel and certification by Secretary Panetta and Admiral Mullen that our military is ready for repeal.  As of September 20th, service members will no longer be forced to hide who they are in order to serve our country. Our military will no longer be deprived of the talents and skills of patriotic Americans just because they happen to be gay or lesbian.

I want to commend our civilian and military leadership for moving forward in the careful and deliberate manner that this change requires, especially with our nation at war.  I want to thank all our men and women in uniform, including those who are gay or lesbian, for their professionalism and patriotism during this transition.  Every American can be proud that our extraordinary troops and their families, like earlier generations that have adapted to other changes, will only grow stronger and remain the best fighting force in the world and a reflection of the values of justice and equality that the define us as Americans.

Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen signed the certification letter yesterday and presented it to the President this afternoon.

According to Chris Geidner at Metro Weekly:

In a news conference at the Pentagon, Maj. Gen. Steven A. Hummer said that the military had completed ”the necessary policies and regulations to implement repeal,” praised the work of the Repeal Implementation Team, and said, ”This thoughtful and steady approach…has laid the groundwork for a smooth and orderly transition.”

…Hummer said the military expects all training of active duty servicemembers and reserves will be completed by Aug. 15.

Hummer said that the repeal implementation Team has conducted a thorough review of regulations and policies, made the necessary revisions, and stated that those changes will be effective upon the date of repeal. Some of the main policies addressed relate to separations of servicemembers under DADT. Such servicemembers, when discharged fully under DADT, will be able to re-apply after repeal, said Hummer.

There are still some issues related to DADT’s repeal which are yet to be addressed:

”Perhaps the largest piece of this is benefits,” said Hummer.

Although Hummer said that certain benefits in which servicemembers can select a beneficiary of their own choosing will be open to gay, lesbian and bisexual servicemembers who wish to name a same-sex partner, he noted that the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and ”the existing definition of ‘dependent’ in some laws” will prohibit extending benefits such as health care and housing allowances to the same-sex partners of servicemembers.

Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), whose refusal to let DADT repeal die when all hope appeared lost, praised today’s development:

America is now one giant step closer to joining at least 28 of our closest allies in welcoming the service of any qualified individual who is willing and capable of serving our country.  I am delighted to have helped lead the effort to begin repeal of this law because it is the right thing to do for our military and for our country.

Sen. Collins was the only Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee to vote to include DADT’s repeal in the Defense Authorization bill.  In December, she was the only Republican in the Senate to vote to proceed to the Defense Authorization bill which included repeal language. When that vot failed, Sens. Collins and Joe Lieberman (I-CT) then introduced a standalone bill which passed the Senate on December 18, 2010 by a vote of 65-31.

Sen. Lieberman also praised DADT’s imminent demise:

“Our strongest in the world military is even stronger today with the certification that its readiness and effectiveness will not be diminished by the open service of gay and lesbian servicemembers. I thank our military leaders for their efforts over the past several months to implement this policy. Justice has been served, and we should all be grateful that patriots stand guard every day around the world protecting our precious freedoms.”

Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) also reacted to the news:

Given Leon Panetta’s lifelong record of opposition to unfair discrimination, I knew when the President appointed him to be the Secretary of Defense that he would act promptly to implement last December’s legislation to end “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

I have a prediction: just as we have seen in those states where same-sex marriage has occurred with none of the negative consequences predicted, it will soon be clear that there was never any basis for this discriminatory policy in the first place other than prejudice, and the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender servicemembers will soon demonstrate that there never was a good reason to keep them from serving our country.

DADT receives death certificate

Timothy Kincaid

July 22nd, 2011

In accordance with the terms set out in the legislation terminating the Military’s Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy, the President of the United States, the Secretary of the Defense, and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff have now certified that the Department of Defense has now prepared the necessary policies and regulations and that such policies and regulations are consistent with the standards of military readiness, military effectiveness, unit cohesion, and recruiting and retention of the Armed Forces.

It’s official. While the change will not go into effect for another 60 days, the policy restricting the open service of gays and lesbians in the military has been certified dead.

Many people and organizations played an role in this change. And many deserve credit. And you will receive emails from several today claiming that credit and asking you for money.

But one organization which has, in my opinion, contributed far beyond most will probably get scant recognition elsewhere in our community, so I’ll give them the opportunity to brag a bit.

Today, on July 22, 2011, the President, Secretary of Defense, and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs took the next step, certifying that the military is ready to end the ban on open service. It is a proud day to be an American, and a proud day to be a Log Cabin Republican.

Log Cabin Republicans fought this archaic policy on many fronts, from working with the Pentagon’s Comprehensive Working Group which showed servicemembers were unopposed to the change, to securing the needed Republican votes in Congress for repeal, to bringing the federal lawsuit Log Cabin Republicans v. United States which declared ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ unconstitutional. It has been a long campaign, and the fight is not yet over, but victory is in sight at last.

Thanks guys. Considering the vote count and the pressure that the lawsuit applied, I honestly don’t think we could have accomplished this at this time without you.

Uncle Sam Wants YOU

Jim Burroway

July 8th, 2011

The Pentagon is moving swiftly in accordance with the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal’s lifting of its stay, rendering “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” immediately unenforceable. The Defense Department announced today that it will start accepting applications from gay military recruits:

In a memo to the secretaries of the military branches, Clifford L. Stanley, undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness, directed them to comply with the court injunction immediately.

“It remains the policy of the Department of Defense not to ask service members or applicants about their sexual orientation, to treat all members with dignity and respect, and to ensure maintenance of good order and discipline,” the memorandum read in part. “Further, because the injunction is once again in effect, the department will process applications for enlistment or appointment without regard to sexual orientation.”

The Army Times reports that the Pentagon has also ordered a halt to all discharge proceedings against gay servicemembers.

Active Duty Military Marches In San Diego Pride

Jim Burroway

July 8th, 2011

Now that “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” has been half-lifted by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, LGBT members of the U.S. military in the San Diego area marched in the city’s Gay Pride parade this weekend as out and proud LGBT Americans.

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San Diego is home port for the U.S. Navy’s Pacific Fleet, and the area is dotted with ports, naval air stations, national guard facilities — and the Marine’s Camp Pendelton is just up the cost in north county. This appears to be the first organized march by active duty military personnel in a U.S. Gay Pride parade.

Ninth Circuit lifts stay on Log Cabin’s DADT victory. Policy unenforceable immediately

Timothy Kincaid

July 7th, 2011

[Sorry folks, I thought I had posted this yesterday but I guess I forgot to hit "publish"]

From the LA Times

A federal appeals court in San Francisco issued a ruling Wednesday that ends enforcement of the law banning openly gay people from serving in the military, citing the Obama administration’s recent determination that gays and lesbians have suffered a history of discrimination.

The statute known as “don’t ask, don’t tell” was ruled unconstitutional by U.S. District Judge Virginia Phillips in September, and a ban on its enforcement was imposed a month later. The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals stayed Phillips’ ruling, though, while it was being appealed and to allow the Defense Department time to prepare for integrating gays into the armed services.

A three-judge panel of the appeals court lifted that stay in a two-page order Wednesday, granting a motion brought by the Log Cabin Republicans, a gay-rights advocacy group that sued the federal government over “don’t ask, don’t tell” seven years ago.

There are several reasons why this case is important.

First, should the Ninth Circuit uphold the victory as seems likely, it takes the matter out of the hands of any future hostile administration or Congress. While it’s unlikely that Congress would reinstate the ban, it removes the possibility.

As importantly, it alleviates the possibilities of delaying tactics or conditional reversal or partial retainment of discrimination. Matters of housing or full inclusion cannot be accepted as “policy” but would be held to the scrutiny of constitutional challenge and those establishing or administering such policy would keep that in mind.

But most importantly of all, I believe that this is the first time that a Federal Circuit Appellate Court has taken the position that a stay on the reversal of a discriminatory policy was more harmful to gay people than to those seeking to uphold the discrimination. THAT’S A BIGGIE, FOLKS. And it establishes a precedent that reflects an entire shift in perspective. The presumption no longer is in favor of the status quo.

Further, this is fascinating in that the Ninth Circuit cited the Administration’s new views about anti-gay discrimination requiring heightened scrutiny. Remember, the Ninth Circuit has yet to rule on the Perry v. Schwarzenegger appeal and (should the Proponents be deemed to have standing), if the same consideration is given then it seems likely that the ruling will stand.

And I would not be surprised it Olson and Boies immediately filed a motion to have the stay lifted on Perry.

UPDATE:
The original title of this posting was inaccurate. The Ninth Circuit did not uphold Log Cabin’s victory over DADT but rather lifted the stay during appeal.

Gay Soldiers Attacked, Fear Coming Forward Because of DADT

Jim Burroway

July 5th, 2011

Two gay Ft. Carson soldiers south of Colorado Springs were beaten Saturday at a fast food restaurant while their attackers shouted anti-gay and racial slurs. Police are investigating the attack as a possible hate crime, but the two soldiers have to remain anonymous because “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” has not yet been officially dismantled.

This attack comes almost exactly twelve years after Pfc Barry Winchell was murdered because he was gay. That murder occurred in July, 1999, and highlighted the physical dangers that LGBT servicemembers are exposed to under DADT. After twelve years and with DADT’s promised imminent demise, some things still haven’t changed. The soldiers, who remain unidentified in KRDO’s story, say that most people in their unit know that they are gay. But, says one, “I don’t need people higher up knowing. I still have to protect myself as far as on the military side.” One of the soldiers is being treated for facial fractures and his jaw has been wired shut. The other had been repeatedly kicked in the head and ribs, and he said his right eye had swollen closed. With injuries like those, it will be impossible for them to hide now.

LaBarbera Award: Bryan Fischer

Jim Burroway

June 2nd, 2011

Admittedly, the American Family Association’s Bryan Fischer could qualify for this award virtually every day, so we’ve had to raise the bar for his nomination for this award. (He’s won three times before.) Yesterday, Right Wing Watch caught Fischer saying this:

You’re going to have the homosexual lobby committing one hate crime after another against service members, especially officers, who have deeply held convictions about the acceptability of homosexual behavior. And so I’m predicting that things are about to get very ugly in the United States military for people of faith. We are going to see principle-driven officers, one after another, are going to become to victims of systematic hate crimes. This is going to be a pogrom, this is going to be virtual genocide, military genocide, career genocide for people of faith in military, perpetrated by the homosexual lobby.

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Newt Gingrich and Tim Pawlenty have both appeared on Fischer’s program trolling for anti-gay votes.

About those “21 religious groups” and their chaplain letter…

Timothy Kincaid

May 25th, 2011

A news article has been circling about the response of “Leaders of 21 religious groups that provide chaplains to the U.S. military” to the tentative (and subsequently reversed) announcement that chaplains could exercise their religious beliefs in regards to same-sex marriage.

Chaplains and service members who believe gay marriage and homosexuality are immoral might fear reprisal if they express their views openly once the military’s lifts the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, said the retired chaplains, who sent a letter Monday to the chiefs of chaplains of the Navy, Army, and Air Force.

“This is already an assault and a challenge on individual conscience and some soldiers may think it’s forcing them to abandon their religious beliefs or being marginalized for holding to those beliefs,” said Douglas E. Lee, a retired Army brigadier general and chaplain, whose signature was the first on the letter.

Conservative Christian press expressed the letter in even more indignant terms. (Christian Post)

They want to ensure that chaplains and service members won’t be punished if they preach on or discuss homosexuality as a sin.

Considering that the temporarily announced policy was the result of questions from real chaplains about their own rights and abilities, I thought that I would review just what this letter said and who signed it.

Well, it turns out that the complaints really didn’t have to do with real fears by real chaplains. Rather, this is a document written by the Alliance Defense Fund complaining about how allowing chaplains to have religious freedom would hurt their own political campaigns against the rights and freedoms of gay Americans.

Of equally grave concern is the fact that chaplains are instructors of conscience. Chaplains have a tremendous moral responsibility to insure that when they preach, teach or counsel, they do so in accordance with their conscience and in harmony with the faith group by which they are endorsed. When guidance, however, is forthcoming from senior leadership that implies protected status for those who engage in homosexual behavior and normalizes same-sex unions in base chapels, any outside observer would conclude that both homosexuality and homosexual unions officiated as marriages in base chapels are normative. This creates an environment that is increasingly hostile to the many chaplains—and the service members they serve—whose faith groups and personal consciences recognize homosexual behavior as immoral and unsafe and do not permit same-sex unions.

In plain English: if military leadership treats same-sex unions like opposite-sex unions, then those who are anti-gay will no longer have official support for their doctrine. And those who seek to cultivate a culture of rejection and hostility towards gay people will be viewed askance once the military treats all people equally.

And in response they demand that all soldiers should not “be marginalized” for holding and espousing anti-gay views. They should be free to dole out homophobic slurs, to denounce fellow gay soldiers, to mock, berate, and demean gay people in general, provided that all of these behaviors are an expression of conscience based on their religious beliefs.

Which is, of course, nonsense. Anti-Semitism, anti-Catholic, or racist statements do not receive protection from marginalization even when an expression of conscience based on their religious beliefs. Why, then, should homophobes receive special treatment, special exceptions, that others do not receive?

And, as a matter of credibility, let’s review exactly to what extent this letter represents the faith community. Let’s look to see who did – and who did NOT – sign this letter.

As it turns out, the signatories are all from anti-gay denominations. Some, like the Southern Baptist Convention and the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod are denominations of significant size and presence in the chaplaincy. But most of these “21 religious groups” are miniscule and filler designed to give the letter a greater representation than it deserves. And some, like the Anglican Church in North America, owe their entire existence, their very reason for being, to the anti-gay attitudes of a handful of malcontents who broke away from their religious affiliation solely because it rejected anti-gay animus.

Who is not there? No mainline or moderate denominations, and not even the reliably anti-gay Catholic Church (which sent a separate letter) or Mormon Church. No Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Wiccan, or other non-Christian affiliating bodies. This is not a broad spectrum of “religious groups that provide chaplains to the U.S. military.” It is simply a collection of far-right anti-gay denominations pretending to be so.

And this is not about chaplains being denied religious freedom. This is not about an assault and a challenge on individual conscience of conservative soldiers.

This is about one segment of Christendom seeking to impose its will over society, over the military, and especially over those segments of Christendom that do submit to their demands for ‘orthodoxy’. This letter is an assault on the civil and social freedoms of gay people and on the religious freedoms of gay-supportive people of faith.

Conservatives attack Navy policy, get it reversed

Timothy Kincaid

May 11th, 2011

A memo was made public on Monday that stated that same-sex marriages could be be conducted on Navy bases in states that allow such marriages and that chaplains who so wished could participate.

Predictably, social conservatives reacted with outrage.

Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council (identified as a hate group by the SPLC), tweeted

Hearing Navy chaplains are now being trained to perform same sex weddings following [Don't Ask Don't Tell (DADT)] changes. Major religious liberty implications.

And the politicians got all charged up as well (Christianity Today)

Rep. Todd Akin (R-Mo.) and 62 other Members of Congress also object to the new policy. They sent a letter to the Secretary of the Navy accusing the Navy of violating federal law.

“We find it difficult to understand how the military is somehow exempt from abiding by federal law. Not only does this document imply recognition and support of same-sex marriage in opposition to DOMA, it also implies that the Navy will now perform these marriages so long as they do not violate state statutes,” Akin wrote.

And so the Navy has today reversed the policy. But what is being carefully avoided by conservatives is how this came about and who is really impacted.

The policy memo was written by Navy Chief of Chaplains Rear Adm. Mark L. Tidd and was written to chaplains to answer questions that arose when those Navy chaplains were undergoing training as to what chaplains were allowed to do.

This reversal will have but minimal effect on gay couples. No, we will not be allowed to marry on base, but we can find another venue quite close by. The wedding will go on.

Who this really effects the most are military chaplains. This reversal tells them that they do not have the freedom to officiate at certain weddings. They cannot rely on the teachings of their own denomination or the guidance of their faith; instead politicians will dictate what are acceptable standards for sacraments.

So listen up, all you Methodists, Episcopalians, Presbyterians, Lutherans, Congregationalists, Disciples of Christ, American Baptists, Universalists, Reformed Jews, or any other religious denomination who either does support same-sex marriage or is deciding whether to do so: it’s time you wake up to the truth. This is an attack on you.

Tony Perkins and the rest who yell the loudest about religious liberties don’t want religious liberty at all. Or, at least, not for you. They want to dictate to you what is acceptable religious policy in this country. It’s time you get in this fight and realize that you are fighting as much for your own freedom as you are for ours.

Bob Barr on conservatism

Timothy Kincaid

May 2nd, 2011

During his eight years (1995 – 2003) in the House of Representatives, Bob Barr (R-GA) was best know for his partisanship and conservative advocacy. Long an advocate of Second Amendment rights and suspicious of governmental spending – which he saw in terms of governmental encroachment on a free people – Barr seemingly found no inconsistency in toeing Republican Party positions which supported governmental encroachment on a number of social issues.

In addition to being a strong advocate for the Federal Government’s “war on drugs”, Barr took a leading role in opposing rights for gay people. In 1996, he was the author and chief supporter of the Defense of Marriage Act.

But the bombing of the World Trade center in 2001, coupled with the federal government’s crack down on civil freedoms, woke Barr up. His libertarianism ceased to be (as it is for many Republicans) a platitude around which exceptions are the norm and he began to question whether many of the positions he had one time championed were not actually in direct violation to the principles which he espoused.

Barr’s turn around has been dramatic. In 2006 he left the Republican Party and registered as Libertarian, serving as that party’s presidential candidate two years later. And he has also advocated for the legalization of marijuana.

But perhaps the most unexpected of Barr’s reversals has been his public repudiation of his most notable action in Congress, DOMA. Interestingly, this is not, I suspect, based out of some newfound appreciation for gay people; rather, it seems to flow from a newfound respect for freedom, individual autonomy, and constitutional equality.

Consequently, Barr speaks very differently from other advocates for the reversal of anti-gay governmental discrimination. His is not an advocacy that rails as “the bigots” but rather speaks to the ideals that permeate the writing, if not the thinking, of the Republican Party and it’s leaders.

Speaking over the weekend at the Log Cabin Republicans National Convention, Barr spoke specifically of marriage and the government’s role.

A federal law that burdens a fundamental right is – should – be deemed in violation of the principle of equal protection. When viewed as a fundamental personal decision on the right to associate, it clearly falls within the ambit of the XIV Amendment’s notion of “privileges or immunities.” Prohibitions against same-sex marriage violate the equal protection clause by placing more than a burden on this right – an outright prohibition for one group of individuals to exercise that right legally and to have their contracts enforced by the courts.

This is interesting language in that it brings up a point that our community can sometimes overlook. We tend to talk in terms of what marriage means to us: rights, responsibilities, community, recognition, and equality. Yes, marriage restriction does infringe on hospital visitation and inheritance tax. But those are not particularly strong arguments to those who may see changing visitation rules and tax codes as a solution.

Barr focuses instead on what we, as a people, have the right to expect and demand from our government.

As Linda Harvey flippantly says (and entirely misunderstands) we already can marry, and – contrary to Harvey’s assumptions – we can marry the person we love. And we may marry in every state, in every nation, anywhere we may find ourselves.

Marriage is a contract, a social, emotional, and financial agreement based on terms, conditions, and promises. These vows we may pledge, be it in front of an alter with family, friends and God as witness, or privately and quietly.

We can marry; that isn’t really our issue. Our issue is whether the state will recognize and enforce this contract.

And we have the right to demand that it do so. And opponents who argue that we can have wills, and powers of attorney, and ‘designated funeral-planning agent’ forms to provide “many of the same benefits” should be made to explain why it is that the state may enforce those contracts, but not the one we have already made.

But it is not specific issues, such as gay marriage or gay military service, that should be the focus for conservatives. Such thinking puts the emphasis on the who, not the what.

Barr believes, as do I, that in our approach to policy, we ought not start with the impact some law may have on gay people, but rather on whether any people should be subjected to some arbitrary control over their lives, regardless of their demographic. And it is that argument that can appeal to the principles of some who may never come to see us as morally equal but who can, nevertheless, see us as civilly and legally equal.

What many so-called conservatives fail to realize also is that defending traditional notions of morality (if consistency is to be a component also of our political philosophy) ought to include keeping the government as much out of our personal lives as possible and limiting its power as much as possible. And, speaking of morality, using the collective power of the state to do what individuals cannot do – impose the will of one group of people on another set of people – is truly immoral. We each were endowed by our Creator with one life and we should be free to live it as we see fit, so long as we do not harm another.

Click here to read the red of Barr’s eloquent and thought provoking speech

FRC: Not Too Late To Block DADT Repeal

Jim Burroway

April 20th, 2011

The Family “Research” Council never admits defeat. In an Op-Ed posted on Fox News, FRC continues to falsely portray the Pentagon’s survey as evidence that DADT’s repeal will be bad for morale. But when 70% believe that having a gay service member in their unit will have a positive, mixed, or no effect on the unit’s ability to “work together to get the job done,” it’s hard to see where FRC is coming from — unless they want to encourage the minority who think otherwise to make DADT’s repeal a problem for unit cohesion. Even chaplains are on board with the change.

The repeal’s full implementation is expected to occur sometime this summer.

Administration continues to defend DADT in court, but with concessions

Timothy Kincaid

February 26th, 2011

Although President Obama has announced that discrimination against gay and lesbian Americans should be held to a stricter scrutiny than rational basis, the Obama Administration continues to defend Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell in its appeal to the court challenge by Log Cabin Republicans. But the President’s position has impacted how the Department of Justice is arguing their case. (LCR Press Release)

“The government’s brief is stunning for what it does not say. As expected, it argues that Log Cabin Republicans lacked standing to bring the case and that Judge Phillips lacked authority to issue a world-wide injunction. Judge Phillips’s 85-page decision from October 2010 covered these points in great detail, and we are confident that the government’s arguments on these points will be rejected. The government’s only other argument is that the recent repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell was constitutional but that was not an issue tried before Judge Phillips and was never part of the government’s case before. The government’s brief does not address the due process or first amendment issues on which Judge Phillips based her decision nor the standard of review applicable to our challenge to the constitutionality of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. By not arguing merits of the constitutionality of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, the government’s brief, by its silence on these issues, is effectively conceding that Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell was and is unconstitutional. While it may be implicit, it is the first time in the six-plus-year history of the case that the government has not argued that Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell is constitutional. This is a major change in the government’s position.”

Lest future Congresses or Presidents seek to reinstate discrimination in the Military, it is important to our community that LCR’s victory be confirmed.

Mike Huckabee on Obama’s DOMA Decision

Jim Burroway

February 25th, 2011

Obviously, he’s not happy with it. He also hints that if he became president, he would re-impose “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

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Chaplains: DADT repeal no big deal to ministry

Timothy Kincaid

February 17th, 2011

From the Christian Post:

Army Chaplain Lt. Col. Carleton Birch said Wednesday that chaplains already have experience in counseling homosexual soldiers and will likely be able to adjust easily to an openly homosexual military.

“I’ve counseled homosexual soldiers when if I told anyone else that, they would get kicked out,” shared Birch, an evangelical.

When asked if chaplains would be limited in their ability to serve soldiers following the “don’t ask, don’t tell” repeal, he said that no changes were necessary to protect chaplains’ rights.

He maintained, “We’ve always been able to preach and teach” and anticipate little change in the future.

Lt. Col. Lisa H. Tice, a Reformed chaplain who serves in the personnel, budget and readiness division of the Air Force Office of the Chief of Chaplains, said that Tier 1, the first phase of the military training, is geared towards chaplains.

Tice said of counseling gays, “We don’t see this as a big deal.”

So all the hype about the religious rights of chaplains was just… ummm…. let’s see… well, a less than strictly honest diversion.

Fehrenbach To Retire With Full Pension and Benefits

Jim Burroway

February 16th, 2011
Lt. Col. Victor Fehrenbach

Lt. Col. Victor Fehrenbach

Lt. Col. Victor Fehrenbach, who was under investigation for violating “Don’t Ask, Dno’t Tell,” will be allowed to retire from the U.S. Air Forceon Oct. 1 with his full rank and his pension intact. Fehrenbach expressed relief that the entier ordeal was over.

In 2008, just as 18-year veteran was about to be deployed to Afghanistan, Fehrenbach was placed on desk duty when he learned he was under investigation on charges that he allegedly sexually assaulted a male civilian and that he was in violation of the military’s ban on homosexuality. The assault allegation was dismissed for lack of evidence. But the investigation into his sexuality under DADT continued, because in order to clear himself of the sexual assault charges, he was forced to reveal that the sexual encounter had actually been consensual.

If Fehrenbach had been dismissed under DADT, he would have lost his military retirement benefit of half pay and full medical care for the rest of his life. So he went to federal court last year seeking a temporary order blocking his discharge. That led to negotiations with the Justice Department which resulted in an agreement that the Air Force couldn’t discharge him without notifying the court first. That apparently gave the Air Force incentive to come to an alternate solution.

President Barack Obama signed a measure repealing DADT in the closing days of the previous Congress. The ban is expected to be fully dismantled sometime this summer.

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