Posts Tagged As: Military
July 28th, 2016
USNI News, from the U.S. Naval Institute, is reporting that the U.S. Navy is set to name a ship after gay rights activist Harvey Milk:
The July 14, 2016 notification, signed by Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus, indicated he intended to name a planned Military Sealift Command fleet oiler USNS Harvey Milk (T-AO-206). The ship would be the second of the John Lewis-class oilers being built by General Dynamics NASSCO in San Diego, Calif.
…The Secretary of the Navy’s office is deferring additional information until the naming announcement, a Navy official told USNI News on Thursday.
Mabus has said the John Lewis-class – named after civil rights activist and congressman Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) – would be named after civil rights leaders.
Other names in the class include former Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren whose court ruled to desegregate U.S. schools, former Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, women’s right activist Lucy Stone and abolitionist and women’s rights activist Sojourner Truth.
Milk entered the Navy in 1951 and served on the submarine rescue ship Kittiwake, which was based in San Diego. He was honorably discharged in 1955 as a lieutenant junior grade. Both of his parents had also served in the Navy. Huffington Post reports that Rep. Bob Filner (D-CA) organized a letter writing campaign to push for naming a ship after Milk:
“This action would be a fitting tribute to Mr. Milk’s support for equality, an ideal exemplified in the military’s recent repeal of its former Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy,” said Filner in a statement. The southern California legislator is the Democrats’ ranking member on the House Veterans Affairs Committee and is also in the process of running for mayor of San Diego.
…“This action by the US Secretary of the Navy will further send a green light to all the brave men and women who serve our nation that honesty, acceptance and authenticity are held up among the highest ideals of our military,” said Milk’s nephew Stuart Milk in a statement to San Diego LGBT Weekly.
June 30th, 2016
Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter this afternoon announced that “effective immediately,” the ban on openly transgender service members in the military has come to an end:
“The Defense Department and the military need to avail ourselves of all talent possible in order to remain what we are now — the finest fighting force the world has ever known,” Carter said Thursday at the Pentagon.
“We don’t want barriers unrelated to a person’s qualification to serve preventing us from recruiting or retaining the soldier, sailor, airman or marine who can best accomplish the mission. We have to have access to 100% of America’s population,” he added.
“Although relatively few in number, we’re talking about talented and trained Americans who are serving their country with honor and distinction,” he said. “We want to take the opportunity to retain people whose talent we’ve invested in and who’ve proven themselves.”
Carter said the decision was “a matter of principle.”
“Americans who want to serve and meet our standards should be afforded the opportunity to compete,” he said.
The ban’s lifting comes after about a year of study, and it will take another nine month to implement all of the policy changes needed. That nine-month plan includes providing transition-related care and beefing up the armed services non-discrimination policies:
By Oct. 1, the Pentagon will create training handbook, medical protocol and “guidance for changing a service member’s gender in the Defense Eligibility Enrollment System (DEERS),” Carter’s announcement said. “At this point, the services will be required to provide medically necessary care and treatment to transgender service members according to the medical protocol and guidance, and may begin changing gender markers in DEERS.”
The reality, Carter said, is that there are already transgender people serving in the military, and the Pentagon owes it to them to care for them and give commanders guidance.
…The decision to lift the ban was not entirely welcome on Capitol Hill. Rep. Mac Thornberry, the chairman of the Armed Services Committee and a Texas Republican, asked Carter pointed, specific questions last year about how removing the ban would improve military readiness, including its cost and effect on morale. A letter in response to Thornberry from the Pentagon, obtained by USA TODAY, thanked him for his interest but provided no specific answers.
Carter called the decision to end the ban his own, which was why the military’s top uniformed officers, such as the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford, was not appearing with him to announce the change.
June 24th, 2016
Top personnel officials plan to meet as early as Monday to finalize details of the plan, and Deputy Defense Secretary Bob Work could sign off on it by Wednesday, according to a Defense official familiar with the timetable but who spoke on condition of anonymity because officials were not authorized to speak publicly about it. Final approval would come from Defense Secretary Ash Carter, and the announcement will be on the eve of the Fourth of July weekend.
…The main focus of the Pentagon’s review of the policy has been on the effect of repeal on the military’s readiness to fight, Pahon said. More details about the review’s findings are expected to be released soon, he said.
Several issues relating to repeal of the ban have proven to be contentious, according to officials familiar with the review but not authorized to speak publicly about it. One sticking point has been how long transgender service members would have to serve before being eligible for medical treatment to transition to the other gender.
June 2nd, 2016
The caption accompanying the above photo says: “Sailors and Marines attend a lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender pride month celebration on the mess decks of the Wasp-class amphibious assault ship USS Essex (LHD 2)” This would have been unimaginable just a few short years ago:
This June, the Navy recognizes LGBT service members and civilians for their dedicated service to our country.
“Diversity is a source of strength for the Navy, and is [a] key component to maintaining our highest state of readiness,” said a Navy spokesperson. “Diversity encompasses more than race and gender — we seek to include diversity of thought, background, language, culture and skills as well. Our force comes from a diverse populous, and we are simply better at what we do when we are more diverse. We want individuals to serve who are right for the job regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, and creed. Our goal is to ensure that the mission is carried out by the best-qualified and the most capable service members.”
The Defense Department first recognized Pride month in 2012. The first full military-wide Pride observance was just two years ago, although that military-wide observance wasn’t quite military-wide.
On Tuesday, President Obama issued his administration’s last Pride Month proclamation. Whether there’s another one next year depends in large part on what happens in November.
May 17th, 2016
Here’s another historic first for LGBT Americans. This evening, the U.S. Senate confirmed the nomination of Eric Fanning as Army Secretary. This makes Fanning the first openly gay leader of any branch of the U.S. armed services, and it comes just four and a half years after “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” was officially dismantled.
The voice vote came after Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan. dropped his opposition in a dispute over Obama administration efforts to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and transfer detainees to the U.S.
Roberts said he received assurances from the administration in private discussions that the clock has run out on moving detainees to Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.
Fanning served as the Army secretary’s principal adviser on management and operation of the service. He was undersecretary of the Air Force from April 2013 to February 2015, and for half a year was the acting secretary of the Air Force.
Fanning was nominated to the post last September. Roberts came under immense pressure to when it was learned that he had placed a hold on Fanning’s nomination. John McCain (R-AZ), chairman of the Armed Services Committee, took to the floor last month to implore that Roberts lift the hold. Roberts answered that he supported Fanning for the post, but he wanted assurances from the White House that Guantanamo detainees would not be transferred to Ft. Leavenworth.
August 28th, 2014
This tidbit from the Manila Bulletin:
A sailor with Chile’s navy on Wednesday announced he is gay, an unprecedented public declaration in this socially conservative South American nation. At a press conference Wednesday, 24-year-old sailor Mauricio Ruiz told reporters he hoped the public disclosure about his sexuality will help dispel myths that gays can’t be effective members of Chile’s armed forces. Chile has traditionally been a tough place for homosexuals, although the country decriminalized gay sex in 1999 and attitudes toward gays are evolving. The killing of a gay man in Chile 2012 set off a national debate that prompted Congress to pass a hate crimes law.
June 4th, 2014
A Dayton native and the first openly gay commander of the National Air and Space Intelligence Center took over the top leadership post of the secretive agency that provides intelligence reports to the White House, Congress and even ground troops in combat.
Col. Leah G. Lauderback, 42, became the leader of NASIC at a change of command ceremony Wednesday in front of about 700 people gathered at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force. She replaces Col. Aaron M. Prupas, who leaves for a high-level defense intelligence post at the Pentagon.
A 21-year veteran specializing in cyberspace defense, Lauderback had been providing essential service to our nation, all while not-asking, not-telling. She married her partner a month ago.
(But you have to know that they knew all along, right?)
September 11th, 2013
Sandy Rios, one the Right’s more dense opinionators, has now weighed in on why an attack on Syria is a bad idea. It’s cuz John Kerry’s a liar and cuz, well, cuz of TEH GHEYYYYY!!!: (Raw Story)
“There’s a second reason and that is military readiness,” she continued. “When I looked at those battleships going into the Mediterranean, supposedly getting ready for battle in Syria, I couldn’t help think about all the stories I’ve read about how women now are in the ranks of the Navy, getting pregnant at exponential numbers.”
“When I think about the folding in and the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell and the homosexual takeover, really, of our military,” Rios added, “I’m not sure how effective those naval ships will be.”
Poor delusional Sandy. And I bet you a nickel that you could never get her to understand the inherent bigotry, superiority, and hatred in that absurd statement.
September 6th, 2013
We haven’t heard much from the Southern Baptist Convention lately. Onetime players in the Culture Wars, over the past year or so the SBC has pulled back from a political response to the changes in social acceptance of homosexuality and has refocused on its religious response. They decided to treat gay couples much like they would treat heterosexuals who are not living in agreement with the Convention’s sexual teachings.
This is both a pragmatic response to a shifting culture and a theologically sound position. It places the emphasis back where the Epistles held it, within the body, and reminds Southern Baptists that Scripture talks about one’s own failings, not that of one’s neighbor. (And as anyone who has lived in the Bible Belt can attest, Southern Baptists need all the reminding they can get).
But that is not to suggest that the denomination has changed its position. And new guidelines issued to SBC chaplains by the SBC’s North American Mission Board illustrate the extent to which Baptists still continue to theologically oppose homosexuality and gay marriage. (As an aside, I sincerely hope that NAMB does not have branch offices in Louisiana or Los Angeles).
In addition to direction on pastoral care in pluralistic setting, the NAMB placed some pretty severe restrictions on its chaplains, which make up about 15% of Military chaplains. (Baptist Press)
Restrictions — The guidelines state that “NAMB-endorsed chaplains will not conduct or attend a wedding ceremony for any same-sex couple, bless such a union or perform counseling in support of such a union, assist or support paid contractors or volunteers leading same-sex relational events, nor offer any kind of relationship training or retreat, on or off of a military installation, that would give the appearance of accepting the homosexual lifestyle or sexual wrongdoing. This biblical prohibition remains in effect irrespective of any civil law authorizing same-sex marriage or benefits to the contrary.” Chaplains also are prohibited from participating in jointly-led worship services “with a chaplain, contractor or volunteer who personally practices a homosexual lifestyle or affirms a homosexual lifestyle or such conduct.”
No doubt the mission board thinks that these are reasonable restrictions, but in practice I think this will be hard to live by and increasingly so in upcoming months. I suspect that chaplains in the field will either come to ignore these rules or perhaps find other affiliation.
What this says, in effect, is that a chaplain is restricted from offering any relationship counseling to men and women whom they know and work with, and whom they respect and care about. It says that they cannot affirm monogamy, advise consideration for the other partner’s concerns, or present tips and tools for successful negotiation of a relationship. Further, it says that they cannot personally attend the celebrations of a chaplain’s friends.
These are personal restrictions that, while cumbersome, may be understood to be a sacrifice for their stance. However, there are also professional restrictions that may prove to be disastrous to a chaplain’s career, relationships with fellow chaplains, or even ability to perform their duties.
The new restrictions disallow a chaplain to conduct marriage retreats that include same-sex couples. As any such retreats sponsored by the US Military will not allow discrimination, these rules remove an SBC chaplain from conducting or participating in all group relationship training or retreats other than strictly sectarian retreats sponsored by outside groups.
And, though I suspect they did not intend it, the most difficult rule to observe will likely be the restriction on jointly-led worship services. Far far more chaplains – and denominations – “affirm a homosexual lifestyle” than the SBC may consider. If not at this exact moment, then quite soon the vast majority of United Methodist chaplains, United Church of Christ chaplains, Episcopal chaplains, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America chaplains, Presbyterian Church (USA) chaplains, as well as many others will encourage the establishment and maintenance of committed same-sex relationships. They will celebrate, or at least counsel, same-sex marriages. And the restrictions state that SBC chaplains cannot jointly lead worship with them.
This is probably more consequential than many readers realize. To refuse joint worship is to not “be in fellowship” with fellow believers. It is to say that this doctrinal difference is so severe that it severs the body of Christ. It’s a very big deal.
It will be interesting to see how this plays out. A demand that SBC chaplains snub their fellow ministers may prove to be a fatal flaw in that denomination’s missionary effort.
September 13th, 2012
From the Tulsa World:
U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe hasn’t given up his resistance to the acceptance of gays and lesbians in the military or same-sex marriage.
On Tuesday, Inhofe and fellow Republican Roger Wicker of Mississippi introduced a measure that would ban same-sex marriages on military bases and protect military chaplains from “pressure” to perform such ceremonies.
The two senators described the Military Religious Freedom Act as an effort to enforce the Defense of Marriage Act, known as DOMA, on the Defense Department in the wake of the December 2010 repeal of the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, which ended the official ban on gay men and lesbians serving openly in the military.
The Defense Department directive on marriages, in keeping with the First Amendment which guarantees the free practice of religion, says, “A military chaplain may participate in or officiate any private ceremony, whether on or off a military installation.” The operative word here is “may.” This is in now way binding, as chaplains are not required to officiate ceremonies which run counter to their religious beliefs. On the other hand, the so-called “Military Religious Freedom Act” is a complete misnomer, since it would actually prohibit pastors from denominations which solemnize the marriages of their same-sex couples from practicing their faiths and the faiths of their members.
July 30th, 2012
Those who opposed the repeal of Don’t Ask – Don’t Tell, the anti-gay military policy, warned that lifting the ban on openly gay servicemembers would result in chaplains having to choose between their denomination and The Homosexual Agenda! They predicted that chaplains would be forced into positions in which the orders of their superiors would contradict the mandates of their faith.
And they were right.
On June 23rd, Tech. Sgt. Erwynn Umali and Will Behrens stood before God and Country and pledged to love each other and trust in each other and in God. Kay Reeb, a Navy chaplain with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, presided. Joyously. And as the ELCA supports same sex couples, Reeb did so with no conflict whatsoever.
But, as it turns out, Reeb was not the only chaplain present. Air Force Col. Timothy Wagoner, a Southern Baptist, is the presiding chaplain at that chapel, and he was there as well. (Army Times)
“I wouldn’t miss it,” Wagoner said at the chapel at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, days later. “I don’t feel I’m compromising my beliefs … I’m supporting the community.”
Even though he was not willing to conduct the union, he could be there as a sign of support for all of the service members, including Umali (“a comrade in arms”) and Reeb (“she gave a beautiful ceremony”). The article that quoted Wagoner went on to say that the lifting of the ban was a non-issue.
In fact, there’s been no significant exodus — perhaps two or three departures of active-duty chaplains linked to the repeal. Moreover, chaplains or their civilian coordinators from a range of conservative faiths told The Associated Press they knew of virtually no serious problems thus far involving infringement of chaplains’ religious freedom or rights of conscience.
It seems that, unlike their civilian counterparts, chaplains are quite willing to respect each others’ views and to support their service even if their theology differs.
Well that just wouldn’t do. If chaplains are not feeling infringement then they certainly were going to. So the North American Mission Board (the branch of the Southern Baptists that oversees SBC chaplains) called in Col. Wagoner to explain himself. (Baptist Press)
Wagoner assured the SBC that he does not support same-sex marriage or unions. Nor have his theological views changed from the teachings of his denomination. But that just wasn’t good enough.
Carver said, “Our expectations are that military chaplains will continue to uphold the Baptist Faith and Message 2000, which makes it crystal-clear that marriage is the uniting of one man and one woman.”
After the AP article appeared, Carver said NAMB’s chaplaincy office immediately emailed a letter to all its chaplains, reinforcing the Southern Baptist position on same-sex civil unions. A videoconference session for all senior SBC military chaplains also is planned to emphasize NAMB’s expectations for ministry to members of the armed forces.
There won’t be any of this “getting along with others” crap. We have conflict to uphold. We have discord to sow. We have the infringement of religious liberties to fabricate.
“Our chaplains need the assurance of our prayerful support as they fight the good fight of faith with the uncompromising truthfulness and love of Jesus Christ,” Carver said. “We’re going to protect our chaplains and, as they take their stand, they need to remember they’re not alone. We are here to love, defend and support them.”
Kinda like they loved, defended and supported Col. Wagoner.
But I’m happy to report that Col. Wagoner has withstood the pressures placed on him by the lifting of Don’t Ask – Don’t Tell. He faced an infringement on his religious freedom but his faith was strong enough to weather the pressure of the post-DADT military and come out victorious. Col. Wagoner looked religious oppression in the face and fought back. (Christian Post)
Col. Timothy Wagoner, who serves at an Air Force base in New Jersey, left the Southern Baptist Convention and joined the more progressive Cooperative Baptist Fellowship. The long-time chaplain confirmed his switch to The Associated Press on Friday.
“I find very little that is more important and nothing that is more exhilarating than providing for the religious freedoms and spiritual care of all service members and their families – and will joyfully continue to do so,” Wagoner, senior chaplain at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, said to AP.
Yes, indeed. The lifting of Don’t Ask – Don’t Tell certainly has resulted in restrictions on a chaplain’s religious freedom. By the Southern Baptist Convention. But happily, he rose above.
June 25th, 2012
They said that if Don’t Ask – Don’t Tell was repealed that homosexuals would cause chaos for the Military and – if allowed to have their relationships recognized on base – would make a mockery of marriage in a holy space. (Army Times)
“We are so honored to be a part of this historic moment to be one of the first gay couples allowed to unite in a civil union on a military base,” the couple said in a statement after the ceremony.
“We hope to be an inspiration to others in the LGBT community that struggle with the challenge of marriage equality. And that this issue is not just about the military, but the equal sacrifice and shared burdens of our loved ones who are civilians.”
They said that chaplains were horrified and feared being pressured into performing marriages against their will.
It was presided over by Kay Reeb, a Navy chaplain with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, who also serves at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst.
Reeb, who had never presided over a civil union ceremony before, said she was delighted to take part.
“I told them the same thing I tell every couple — love each other and trust in each other and in God, that’s what keeps us together,” he said.
They said that if allowed to serve openly, everyone would suffer: the heterosexuals who would be made uncomfortable and have their deep religious beliefs offended and the homosexuals who be subjected to abuse.
Air Force Capt. Ryan Quinn, who also attended the event, said he was “amazed by the beauty” of the ceremony.
“I really do think this is an important event. And I was happy to be here with them and their families,” he said. “The amount of support I’ve seen for them from the people (at the base) and the military community makes me proud to serve in the Air Force.”
Somehow, I think the changes we see for the better are due at least in part by people listening – and weighing – what they said.
February 28th, 2012
Over the past few days, a picture has taken the world by storm: a marine just home from Afghanistan kissing the man waiting for him. Cute boys, genuine bliss, it really is a sweet picture.
But the story is sweeter. Friends for four years, Sgt. Brandon Morgan and Dalan Wells – each aware of their own feelings, but unsure about the other’s – slowly discovered that they were in love. And what can be better? To find that the person you like, the one you admire, who you secretly desire actually feels the same about you – it doesn’t get much better.
It’s a very simple story. A thousand tales and books and movies have been created based on little more than this premise.
So it should be no surprise that a picture posted on facebook, and reposted on a gay marine website, should find appeal and be reposted and passed on until hundreds of thousands had seen it. Love is beautiful and everyone wants to share in it.
But while the simplicity of this tale is something that any child could understand, some adults find it impossible to believe. Convinced that homosexuals cannot love and that it’s all about sex and a never ending search for who will be their next sex partner, there just aren’t any hooks on which to hang this story.
So they’ll just dismiss it as a sordid mockery of real true love, the kind between a man and a woman. And surely there were more noble kisses. Kisses of love, not of lovers. Kisses of family partners, not sex partners. But there is still one piece of the story that nasty-minded cynics can’t mock away, one bit of sweetness that can’t be marred.
This is no ordinary kiss. By some lucky quirk, due to ship arrival time and rushed schedules, one friend just happened – unknown to Brandon and Dalan – to catch a picture of their very first kiss.
November 11th, 2011
So today is a very special Veterans Day. It is the day we honor all Veterans who fought for the interests of our nation without discounting any because of their race or gender or orientation. Perhaps gender identity will also some day be dropped from consideration, and we will be even prouder. But on this, the first Veterans Day after the termination of more than 200 years of restriction and exclusion, I am a bit prouder and a bit more appreciative of those who don a uniform and stand between me and those who wish me harm.
(Recruitment poster was by JC Leyendecker, a Saturday Evening Post illustrator who gave us such iconic images as the New Year’s Baby and Santa Claus (as currently dressed). He also had other patrons, including several branches of the US Military. Leyendecker is known for his idolization of the male form – often in ways that would be considered too suggestive today. His most famous advertising campaign was his creation of The Arrow Collar Man, based on his long-term companion, Charles Beach.)
May 27th, 2011
(But if you want to really see homoerotic, check out the January 1919 cover painted by Norman Rockwell, Mr. Straight Middle America, himself. Good heavens, give that story two more minutes and it would have a NSFW rating.)
Happy Memorial Day.
In this original BTB Investigation, we unveil the tragic story of Kirk Murphy, a four-year-old boy who was treated for “cross-gender disturbance” in 1970 by a young grad student by the name of George Rekers. This story is a stark reminder that there are severe and damaging consequences when therapists try to ensure that boys will be boys.
When we first reported on three American anti-gay activists traveling to Kampala for a three-day conference, we had no idea that it would be the first report of a long string of events leading to a proposal to institute the death penalty for LGBT people. But that is exactly what happened. In this report, we review our collection of more than 500 posts to tell the story of one nation’s embrace of hatred toward gay people. This report will be updated continuously as events continue to unfold. Check here for the latest updates.
In 2005, the Southern Poverty Law Center wrote that “[Paul] Cameron’s ‘science’ echoes Nazi Germany.” What the SPLC didn”t know was Cameron doesn’t just “echo” Nazi Germany. He quoted extensively from one of the Final Solution’s architects. This puts his fascination with quarantines, mandatory tattoos, and extermination being a “plausible idea” in a whole new and deeply disturbing light.
On February 10, I attended an all-day “Love Won Out” ex-gay conference in Phoenix, put on by Focus on the Family and Exodus International. In this series of reports, I talk about what I learned there: the people who go to these conferences, the things that they hear, and what this all means for them, their families and for the rest of us.
Prologue: Why I Went To “Love Won Out”
Part 1: What’s Love Got To Do With It?
Part 2: Parents Struggle With “No Exceptions”
Part 3: A Whole New Dialect
Part 4: It Depends On How The Meaning of the Word "Change" Changes
Part 5: A Candid Explanation For "Change"
Using the same research methods employed by most anti-gay political pressure groups, we examine the statistics and the case studies that dispel many of the myths about heterosexuality. Download your copy today!
And don‘t miss our companion report, How To Write An Anti-Gay Tract In Fifteen Easy Steps.
Anti-gay activists often charge that gay men and women pose a threat to children. In this report, we explore the supposed connection between homosexuality and child sexual abuse, the conclusions reached by the most knowledgeable professionals in the field, and how anti-gay activists continue to ignore their findings. This has tremendous consequences, not just for gay men and women, but more importantly for the safety of all our children.
Anti-gay activists often cite the “Dutch Study” to claim that gay unions last only about 1½ years and that the these men have an average of eight additional partners per year outside of their steady relationship. In this report, we will take you step by step into the study to see whether the claims are true.
Tony Perkins’ Family Research Council submitted an Amicus Brief to the Maryland Court of Appeals as that court prepared to consider the issue of gay marriage. We examine just one small section of that brief to reveal the junk science and fraudulent claims of the Family “Research” Council.
The FBI’s annual Hate Crime Statistics aren’t as complete as they ought to be, and their report for 2004 was no exception. In fact, their most recent report has quite a few glaring holes. Holes big enough for Daniel Fetty to fall through.