A very classy step by General Amos
January 30th, 2011
General James Amos, commandant of the Marine Corps, did not want Congress to repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. He would have preferred to continue his operations without the distraction of implementing the change or really even considering whether a change was appropriate. He recognized that there would be pockets of resistance to allowing open service of gay Marines and that his job would be made tougher by the repeal.
But Amos did not get his preference; Congress repealed the anti-gay Military policy.
Many may have been tempted to be recalcitrant and obstructionist or, at most, to grudgingly implement the change with tight lips and minimum effort. General Amos has taken another approach.
In the following video, Amos calls on Marines to look out for and respect each other and to value diversity. He makes the implementation of the change a matter of pride, a matter of the values of Marines, a matter of stepping up to do what they are called to do. Because they are Marines.
This is not only a very smart approach, it is a very classy approach. Well done, General Amos.
Log Cabin case against DADT continues forward
January 29th, 2011
For decades our community has fought for our right to serve in the US Military on the same terms as anyone else. And finally, we have a timeline, a near future, in which such a scenario seems likely. And for most of us, the end to this offensive and unnecessary ban is more important than the way in which it is ended. Just so long as the long wait is over.
But the manner by which Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell – and the pre-existing ban is moderated – comes to a halt has a great deal of impact on other matters of importance to our community. There are both positives and negatives to both the judicial and the legislative solution.
If the courts strike this ban down as discriminatory, then it sets continuing precedent that anti-gay discrimination is in violation to the US Constitution. But this can have the effect of appearing to be “judicial activism” overriding the will of the people’s elected legislature and can be ammunition for the social conservatives’ attack on the US judicial system.
If the legislature provides resolution, this gives a blessing to the solution as being “of the people”, but it also leaves the matter open to future reversals. Additionally, the current projected termination of the anti-gay policy does not prohibit discrimination, it simply ceases the institutionalization of the practice. Of concern is also a threat by some Republicans in the incoming House to find a way to block implementation of the repeal.
Fortunately (and this really rarely happens) we have both legislative and judicial solutions. Congress has voted to reverse DADT and the President is projecting a short implementation. But also, the Federal Court has found that DADT – or, indeed, any arbitrary ban on gay soldiers – violates the US Constitution. And the timing of such is that they are both occurring simultaneously.
In September of last year, Judge
Victoria Virginia Phillips found that DADT is unconstitutional. The government appealed, and has been actively fighting that decisions since. Even after Congress acted to reverse DADT during the lame duck session, the government requested that the proceedings be stayed until the ban was lifted and the case become moot.
As I noted above, that would not be in our best interest. And yesterday
Judge Phillips the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals denied those efforts and set a schedule for the case to continue:
The opposed motion to hold these appeals in abeyance is denied. The briefing schedule is reset as follows: the government’s opening brief and excerpts of record are due February 25, 2011; Log Cabin Republicans’ answering brief and supplemental excerpts of record are due March 28, 2011; and the government’s reply brief is due 14 days after service of the answering brief.
The best of all possible worlds would be for the courts to conclusively determine that any ban on open gay service is unconstitutional (for the appeal to be denied or dropped) but for the President’s timeline to be administered. It looks as though this is a possibility.
DADT may be dead as early as mid-year
January 27th, 2011
The AP is reporting that the Obama administration has outlined a plan that could see the end of the Military’s anti-gay Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy in as little as five months.
Pentagon leaders will roll out a plan Friday that is expected to give the military services about three months to train their forces on the new law allowing gays to serve openly, officials said Wednesday.
The plan, they said, will outline the personnel, recruiting and other regulations that must be changed. It will describe three levels of training for the troops, their commanders and the key administrators, recruiters and other leaders who will have to help implement the changes.
Under that training schedule, full implementation of the law could begin later this summer. Once the training is complete, the president and his top military advisers must certify that lifting the ban won’t hurt troops’ ability to fight. Sixty days after certification, the law would take effect.
I’ll admit that is a shorter timeline than I expected.
The cost of discrimination
January 21st, 2011
One of the claims made by some of those who oppose non-discrimination policies for ideological (rather than bigoted) reasons is that it’s a free market issue. Those who are so foolish as to discriminate lose out on the best and brightest and in the long run cannot compete in the marketplace against those who hire and promote based on ability.
They are, of course, at least partly right. A realistic look at civil rights advances in this country must recognize that while the moral arguments and civil protections were of monumental value, the need to compete for a skilled and loyal workforce also significantly contributed to the breakdown of color barriers.
Discrimination is an expensive luxury and in this economy it’s one that few can afford. Unless, of course, you have a monopoly or are a governmental institution like the military. Then you can spend anything you like to shore up the foolishness of firing gay translators during a shortage or sending the “soldier of the year” packing.
But discrimination still has a cost. And, as it turns out, not a cheap one. (Stars and Stripes)
Enforcing the controversial “don’t ask, don’t tell” law cost the Defense Department nearly $200 million in administrative, recruiting and retraining costs over six years, according to a new report from the Government Accountability Office.
According to the report, the majority of the expense came from recruiting replacements and retraining the new troops. More than a third of the discharged troops held “skills in critical occupations.” That included 23 language experts, whose training included years of language proficiency work prior to their dismissal.
But GAO researchers also estimated that the ban on openly gay troops also cost almost $8 million in administrative expenses. That includes legal work, commanders’ inquiries, pastoral counseling of servicemembers, and processing of separation paperwork.
Well, now, reversing DADT was a tremendous cost-cutting measure; Republicans and other fiscal conservatives should be delighted.
Most won’t be. They’ll bluster and argue and dispute the figures. Just like bigots who refuse to believe that employing only good ol’ boys is bad for the bottom line.
LCR: Keep DADT Appeal Alive
January 11th, 2011
Even though “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’s” repeal has been signed into law, the Log Cabin Republicans have filed a brief with the 9th U.S. Court of Appeals asking the court to continue considering whether a lower court judge was right to strike down the ban. Pointless, you say?
“Despite what the government has led the American people to believe, Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell has not been repealed and will likely remain the law of the land until the end of 2011,” said Dan Woods, White & Case partner who is representing Log Cabin Republicans in Log Cabin Republicans vs United States of America. “In the meantime, openly gay individuals are not free to enlist in our armed forces, current service members must continue to live a lie, and the government continues to investigate and discharge service members. What’s more, the government is trying to delay the briefing and argument on its appeal from the judgment and injunction obtained by Log Cabin Republicans. The government asked us to agree to the delay and we were willing to do so on one condition: that the government halt all pending investigations and discharges during the period of delay. The government refused, and its attorneys said that investigations and discharges will continue.”
The actual repeal won’t occur until sixty days after the President, Secretary of Defense and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff certify to Congress that everything is in place: all the training, policies changes, changes to the military code of conduct, and so forth. This is expected to take several months. If there is any good news there, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), who was the most hard-over opponent of DADT’s repeal, now says that he’s ready to “make it work.”
Think of the Birds!!!
January 10th, 2011
Anti-gay activists put forward a dizzying array of arguments against the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” But now that the old policy is on the way out the door, Cindy Jacobs of Generals International asked, in her torturous attempt at English, the question that nobody else thought to ask: What about the birds???
But the blackbirds fell to the ground in Beebe, Arkansas, well the Governor of Arkansas’ name is Beebe. And also, there was something put out of Arkansas called Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell by a former Governor, this was proposed, Bill Clinton. As so, could there be a connection between this passage [Hosea 4] and now that we’ve had the repeal of the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell where people now legally in the United States have broken restraints with the Scripture because the Scripture says in Romans 1 that homosexuality is not allowed.
[Via Right Wing Watch]
Yes, Ms. Parker, We Can Control Our Behavior
December 30th, 2010
I think the anti-gays are launching a new assault on us, this time trying to convince people that we’re the ones saying gays and lesbians can’t be moral. Conservative columnist Star Parker writes:
Americans are becoming more prone to believe that individuals cannot take personal responsibility for their sexual behavior. Thirty six percent believe today that homosexual behavior is genetically determined compared to 14% who believed this forty years ago.
Is Star lying or merely confused? I found the poll she’s talking about:
This poll says nothing about behavior — it’s about identity. Not what you do, but who you are.
I’ve written before about those on the Right who claim there are no homosexuals, just homosexual behavior. The Family Research Council reveals the political motive behind this deliberate obfuscation:
[H]omosexual conduct is not comparable to other characteristics usually protected by civil rights laws (“race, color, religion, sex, or national origin”). Protection against private “discrimination” has historically been offered only for characteristics that are inborn, involuntary, immutable, innocuous, and/or in the Constitution-yet none of these describe homosexual behavior. [emphasis added]
Star Parker’s going somewhere else, though. It’s one thing to say that you can’t control your sexual orientation. But saying you can’t take personal responsibility for your behavior means you cannot be trusted. It means you have no power to choose a right action over a wrong one. It means, basically, that you are amoral.
That’s not just false, it’s insidious. When we say being gay or lesbian is an immutable characteristic, Star Parker wants people to hear us saying we can’t control our conduct.
What does that accomplish? Quite a bit. It creates a climate of fear. If gays claim they can’t control their behavior, then how we trust them as parents, as teachers, as soldiers? If Star Parker has her way, every time we stand up for our rights, we’ll be damning ourselves as amoral creatures.
And she’s doing this by lying.
Or perhaps it’s just confusion. If so, she’s confused a lot in this piece. For instance, she writes:
As a Christian, I believe in the truth of traditional morality as transmitted to us through our biblical sources. And I believe, along with George Washington, who stated clearly in his farewell address to the nation, that religion and traditional morality are critical to the maintenance of our free society.
Homosexual behavior is unacceptable by these moral standards.
She’s twisting Washington’s speech here. It’s true Washington declared the importance of religion and morality. He even said that religion (not Christianity, not Protestantism, not any specific anti-gay religious doctrine) is necessary for morality. But he never mentioned traditional morality. You can see why Star snuck it in, though. It’s not enough to be moral; your morality has to be traditional — otherwise you’ll end up getting sassed by good and moral Christians who have no problem with teh gays.
Now Washington was no gay liberationist. He did say this about morality in that speech, though:
It is substantially true, that virtue or morality is a necessary spring of popular government. The rule, indeed, extends with more or less force to every species of free government. Who, that is a sincere friend to it, can look with indifference upon attempts to shake the foundation of the fabric ?
Promote, then, as an object of primary importance, institutions for the general diffusion of knowledge. In proportion as the structure of a government gives force to public opinion, it is essential that public opinion should be enlightened.
I’m not sure how Star’s misrepresentations serve the general diffusion of knowledge or the enlightenment of public opinion. Yet she does seem to be concerned with the nation’s moral condition — though, once again, in a pretty confused way:
When asked… for the principal reason that the moral condition of the nation is worsening, the greatest response – 15% – was “disrespect for others.” Only 2% said teen pregnancy, 3% homosexuality, 3% abortion, and 7% breakdown of family/unwed mothers.
When asked for the principal reason that our moral condition is improving, the largest response – 25% – was “better understanding about other people and cultures/more diversity/less racism.”
It should be clear that what is happening is that any prevailing sense that there are objective standards for right and wrong is disappearing and that this is being displaced with a relativism and nihilism that values nothing other than tolerance of everything.
Hold on. What does this Christian lady have against Jesus? You know, the Jesus who said, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” And who commanded, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Jesus must really get her steamed – he sounds like one of those nihilist relativists who think “disrespect for others” is a core moral problem and that “better understanding about other people” could improve our moral condition.
[As an aside, I have to apologize for making this my most rambling blog post ever. But when Star jumps from DADT to Christianity to George Washington to Gallup polls on abortion to nihilism to the Declaration of Independence (!)...well, I did my best with the mess that I found.]
At the beginning of her article, Star Parker writes, “I’m feeling increasingly like a minority in our country. Not because I’m black, but because I am a Christian.” But I can’t see any connection between Jesus in the Bible and the way she’s presented herself. Still, if it’s making her feel isolated and marginalized, maybe there’s hope for our nation’s moral condition after all.
Wherein I agree with Bryan Fischer about special rights
December 24th, 2010
When it comes to anti-gay activists, there are few people nastier than the American Family Association’s Bryan Fischer. Yes, there are plenty who share his aversion to any policy, practice, or social attitude which does not presume that gay people are vile creatures deserving of derision and harsh abuse, but Fischer is among the few who boldly use language that others reserve for the private company of those who share their animus.
And it is primarily due to Fischer and his nasty rants that the AFA has earned the rare distinction of being added to the short list or organizations recognized by the Southern Poverty Law Center as an Anti-Gay Hate Group.
But on occasion, even certified haters say something that rings true. And while Fischer makes his point using contemptuous stereotypes and sneering smugness, I think he makes a good point:
If a homosexual signs up now, he’s stuck with the whole magilla. Go to your superior officer now and say, hey, I’m a flaming homosexual, I hate the army, let me out of here, the superior officer will say, tough darts, those days are gone. You’re stuck with us now, Nancy-boy.
The more this message resounds, the fewer homosexuals will want to enlist. It’s one thing to be gay, and say, hey, I’ll give it a few weeks and then bail if I don’t like the food, can’t get enough action in the barracks, or thought I’d enjoy ogling male soldiers in the shower more than I did.
Those days are now shortly to be a distant memory for our homosexual friends. They enlist, they’re stuck with the whole program just like everybody else.
In other words, they had preferential treatment and special privileges, a status and privileges and an exit strategy denied to their honest and straight counterparts. And homosexuals just bargained it away. Now, they will discover to their dismay, they’re back to having equal rights instead of special rights.
Besides the palpable hatred, Fischer also plays a lot with insinuation, equating “basis of statements by the Service member” – which could simply mean that the servicemember wasn’t caught in the act, so to speak – with “throwing themselves out”. Further, he entirely dismisses the idea that servicepeople may wish to be honest, a principle about which he knows nothing.
But he’s right. One of the things that bothered me about the administration of DADT was that it truly did give unhappy gay and lesbians soldiers an advantage. Once a DADT expulsion became an Honorable Discharge, then the policy harmed committed soldiers wishing to continue their noble service and rewarded those who just wanted out.
Now I doubt that many soldiers considered a policy that demeaned their existence and forced silence and dishonesty on them to be “preferential treatment.” And from what I’ve read, many revealed their orientation only after enduring unbearable treatment by homophobes, from which they had no recourse.
But to the extent that there were gay people who saw their orientation as an escape clause from a poorly chosen contract, that “special right” is gone. Once DADT is fully dead, everyone will be treated the same.
And I think that’s a good thing.
Sen. Reid Returns Lt. Choi’s West Point Ring
December 22nd, 2010
Update: Lt. Choi’s clever reaction via Twitter: “The next time I get a ring from a man, I expect it to be for full, equal, American marriage.”
This Is How You Handle A Wingnut
December 22nd, 2010
Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) responds to right wing CNS “news” reporter Nicholas Ballasy’s question about gay servicemembers showering with straight servicemembers.
“We Are A Nation That Says ‘Out Of Many, We Are One’”: Obama Signs DADT Repeal Into Law
December 22nd, 2010
Today, President Barack Obama signed historic legislation which begins the process of ending the long-standing ban against LGBT people serving openly in the armed forces.
President Obama hailed the legislation as a key milestone in the civil rights struggle for LGBT Americans:
No longer will our country be denied the service of thousands of patriotic Americans who are forced to leave the military – regardless of their skills, no matter their bravery or their zeal, no matter their years of exemplary performance – because they happen to be gay. No longer will tens of thousands of Americans in uniform be asked to live a lie, or look over their shoulder in order to serve the country that they love.
…We are no longer a nation that says ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.’ We are a nation that says ‘Out of many, one.’
Present at the signing ceremony was former Marine Staff Sargent Eric Alva. He was the first American to be injured during the invasion of Iraq when he stepped on a land mine and lost his leg in the explosion. As he was recovering at Bethesda Naval Hospital, he was visited by President George Bush, first lady Laura Bush, and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, none of whom knew that he was gay.
Also present at the signing ceremony was Lt. Dan Choi,who was discharged last summer from the New York National Guard under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” More recently, he has been recovering from a breakdown due to Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, brought on by his service in Iraq and compounded by stress over his public advocacy for DADT’s repeal.
President Obama hailed the law, saying it will “strengthen our national security and uphold the ideals that our fighting men and women risk their lives to defend. Noting that LGBT Americans have fought bravely in every war since the Revolution, Obama applauded the additional sacrifices that they made because of the burden of serving in silence. “None of them,” he added, “should have to sacrifice their integrity as well.”
The Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Repeal Act of 2010 specifies that the 1993 Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell legislation will become stricken from the law sixty days after the President, Defense Secretary, and the Joint Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces certify to Congress that the Defense Department has “prepared the necessary policies and regulations” to allow LGBT members to serve openly, and that those policies are “consistent with the standards of military readiness, military effectiveness, unit cohesion, and recruiting and retention of the Armed Forces.”
No further action by Congress is called for in the Act’s language, but for the time being, DADT is still the law of the land. Active LGBT servicemembers are urged to remain circumspect in disclosing their sexual orientation.
Repealing DADT is more than just a matter of ending discharges and accepting gay applicants. The Pentagon Study that was released three weeks ago identified numerous regulations which will require revisions. Many of these regulations touch on such matters as deployment, off-base and on-base housing, family hardship considerations, family bereavement, sexual harassment, workplace nondiscrimination, and many other personnel policies. This is in addition to training and policy communications which will need to take place throughout the ranks of the armed services.
Given the scale of the report’s recommended policy changes to accomplish DADT repeal, some observers believe that it may take as long as a year to fully implement the changes needed to support DADT’s ultimate repeal. Based on historical precedent, I would agree with that assessment. When President Harry Truman signed Executive Order 9981 in 1948 ordering the racial desegregation of the armed forces, it took the military more than three years to fully implement the order. Integration for personnel stationed in Korea, Okinawa and Japan didn’t occur until the end of 1951.
But that integration occurred against much greater opposition throughout the military and in American society as a while. DADT repeal is expected to go much more smoothly. Three quarters of Americans support repealing DADT, while the Pentagon’s study found that 70% of military personnel 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.” In an interview with the Advocate’s Kerry Eleveld, President Obama said, “My strong sense is [implementation] is a matter of months… Absolutely not years.” Obama repeated that pledge during his signing ceremony this morning. He said that the service chiefs are “committed to implementing this change swiftly and efficiently,” and he vowed, “We are not going to be dragging our feet to get this done.”
ROTC welcomed back
December 21st, 2010
Much to the disappointment of some conservative commentators, ROTC is now being welcomed back onto some campuses. It turns out that ‘Liberal Ivy-Tower Elites’ don’t actually hate the military or the country or all that is good and pure, after all. They really meant it when they said that the reason that ROTC was banned from campus was due to their anti-gay discriminatory policies.
We already told you that Harvard is looking forward to a renewed relationship with the military. They are not alone. (Fox)
Other elite schools, including Columbia and Stanford, also hinted that they now would be willing to extend open arms to the military.
“We now have the opportunity for a new era in the relationship between universities and our military services,” Columbia University President Lee Bollinger said in a written statement.
Richard Levin, president of Yale University, said the school is “eager” to begin discussions about lifting the ban on ROTC.
Well, there goes one grousing point.
Four Hasidic Jews protest DADT repeal
December 21st, 2010
Sometimes you just have to marvel at how people can miss the obvious. (LoHud.com)
Braving the cold weather, four men from the Hasidic Jewish community in Monsey picketed Monday afternoon just outside of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point to protest gays serving openly in the military.
Solomon Diamant, one of the protesters, said they were appalled by the Senate vote that ended the 17-year-old “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy.
“Only God can establish what’s wrong and what’s right. We cannot uproot his rules,” Diamant said. “The whole LGBT agenda is evil,” using the abbreviation for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender.
Darned right! This is a Christian Nation, based on Christian Principles, and we should live according to what God has set out in the Bible! The whole Christian Bible.
Oh… that wasn’t what you meant?
Focus On the Family on DADT: “It’s Too Late To Care Now”
December 21st, 2010
Yes, that petulant schoolyard retort wasn’t an Onion headline, but CitizenLink’s. The Focus On the Family house organ posted this commentary by Bill Spencer, a retired Air Force colonel who is now a Focus employee:
I ask you, fellow citizen, after Saturday’s vote, would you give your life for our Senate? Would you give your life for our president? Or, would you go home to your family? Sadly, you know the answers already. If you never made a phone call or never entered the debate on this issue, it’s too late to care now.
Why Fox didn’t run first-person gay soldier stories
December 20th, 2010
Fox News runs a lot of military stories. Their pro-military reporting has made them a welcome sight on bases around the world and they often have access that is not as ready (or perhaps even as desired) by other news outlets.
One thing they also had over the past year was a steady stream of gay soldiers wanting to tell their story. But they did not choose to tell that story. Embedded reporter Dominic Di-Natale tells us why.
Oddly, it wasn’t resistance on the part of network execs. Nor was it hostility to the political efforts to lift the ban. Rather, according to Di-Natale, it was a matter of logistics and timing. The entire article is an interesting read and suggests to me that implementation may be less difficult than the handful of elderly retired veterans would have us believe.
Truth is it’s a new layer of resilience both sides are now obliged to acquire. Straight soldiers will need to assimilate. And gay soldiers will need thicker skins, too, because as open as they will now be allowed, frank, confrontational responses will come from those with firm convictions against them.
But if each serviceman and woman remembers, as they must, it’s mission first, soldier second, I believe over time the military will be better balanced and, yes, stronger.