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May 15, 2009


In my March 23rd posting, I did a story (with video) on the very public coming out of Lt. Dan Choi on the Rachel Maddow Show.

Lt. Choi is a graduate of West Point, a NY National Guard platoon leader, an Iraq war veteran and an Arabic linguist expert. He and 38 other West Point graduates risked their careers by coming out publicly and forming an organization called Knights Out, which they intended to be a support group that would offer help to their alma mater in educating future Army leaders on the need to accept and honor the sacrifices of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender troops.

At the time of his Maddow interview, Lt. Choi was still an active duty officer in good standing. Unfortunately, even after very personal, heartfelt and reasoned pleas from Choi not to be discharged under DADT, the Army went ahead and fired him anyway. Totally disregarding, as they had 53 times before, the inestimable value an Arabic linguist has to the war efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Below is a video segment of The Daily Show's Jon Stewart skewering Barack Obama and the military for the insane firing of Lt. Choi and others in the middle of two wars in two Arabic/Muslim countries.

According to LezGetReal.com, as a lead-in to the video segment with John Oliver, Stewart cautioned us to always check the fine print as the camera focused in on an Obama banner that was altered to read below the “Yes We Can” slogan the words “But That Doesn’t Necessarily Mean We Are Going To.”

Here's that video:

The Daily Show With Jon StewartM - Th 11p / 10c
Dan Choi Is Gay
Daily Show
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Economic CrisisPolitical Humor

To date, the United States Military has fired over 12,000 service men and women for no other reason than the fact that they are gay. Many of the them were highly decorated war veterans.

If you would like to express your concerns directly to President Obama, you can send an email using the contact form at: http://www.whitehouse.gov/contact/

May 14, 2009


In my last two blog postings, I talked about the failure to see any substantive progress by the Obama administration to make good on his often repeated campaign promises to the LGBT community.

Although there are still many issues that have yet to see any kind of movement, I focused on two of the top priorities that I believe should already have been addressed with strong, doable actions.

The repeal of DOMA and the repeal of DADT are both policies that an overwhelming majority of democrats, including Obama, have already said they were against and pledged to repeal. More importantly, these are policies that not only mock and severely limit the thousands of legal, gay marriages already performed but also jeopardize the readiness and ability of our ground troops to perform at their best in two wars being fought in the middle of two Arabic/Muslim cultures that have a language that virtually none of our troops are able to even understand let alone speak.

Yet, everyday that these policies stay in effect, more and more highly qualified American troops who do speak the languages and understand the cultures are being discharged. And legally recognized gay families are being discriminated against and denied rights and privileges that straight families take for granted on the flimsy excuse that it's against DOMA. In both cases, the lives of thousands of law-abiding, patriotic and emotionally committed individuals are having their lives disrupted and their dreams crushed because those who were elected to correct these injustices are dragging their feet - for no defendable reason.

Yesterday, renowned writer Andrew Sullivan of The Atlantic magazine added his voice to the growing number of openly gay Obama supporters who are beginning to question the veracity of the democrats and, in particular, of Obama himself when they loudly proclaimed their support for GLBT issues. In his article, Sullivan said:

Here we are, in the summer of 2009, with gay servicemembers still being fired for the fact of their orientation. Here we are, with marriage rights spreading through the country and world and a president who cannot bring himself even to acknowledge these breakthroughs in civil rights, and having no plan in any distant future to do anything about it at a federal level. Here I am, facing a looming deadline to be forced to leave my American husband for good, and relocate abroad because the HIV travel and immigration ban remains in force and I have slowly run out of options (unlike most non-Americans with HIV who have no options at all).

And what is Obama doing about any of these things? What is he even intending at some point to do about these things? So far as I can read the administration, the answer is: nada. We're firing Arab linguists? So sorry. We won't recognize in any way a tiny minority of legally married couples in several states because they're, ugh, gay? We had no idea. There's a ban on HIV-positive tourists and immigrants? Really? Thanks for letting us know. Would you like to join Joe Solmonese and John Berry for cocktails? The inside of the White House is fabulous these days.

Sullivan wrote an emotional and powerful piece that I highly recommend to everyone. To read his article go to The Atlantic at: http://andrewsullivan.theatlantic.com/the_daily_dish/2009/05/the-fierce-urgency-of-whenever.html

Hopefully, President Obama's Deputy Director of the White House office of Public Liaison, LGBT activist Brian Bond, is keeping track of all of these articles and postings and is keeping the President and, in turn, the democratic leadership aware of the growing dissatisfaction within our community.

If they continue to treat us as the unwanted stepchildren, they're going to have a hell of time getting themselves reelected. Lest they forget, there were millions of us and our supporters who got them elected to begin with.

May 12, 2009


In my posting yesterday, I said that President Obama could end, or at least suspend, the DADT policy himself.

Well, imagine my delight this morning when I saw a new study published by the Palm Center, a think tank at the University of California, Santa Barbara, that said the President does, indeed, have the authority to end DADT on his own authority.

In fact, according to the study, the President actually has several options available to him. Here is what the study itself said:

There are three legal bases to the president’s authority, the report says. First, Congress has already granted to the Commander in Chief the statutory authority to halt military separations under 10 U.S.C. § 12305, a law which Congress titled, “Authority of President to suspend certain laws relating to promotion, retirement, and separation” Under the law “the President may suspend any provision of law relating to promotion, retirement, or separation applicable to any member of the armed forces who the President determines is essential to the national security of the United States” during a “period of national emergency.” The statute specifically defines a “national emergency” as a time when “members of a reserve component are serving involuntarily on active duty.”

The second and third bases of presidential authority are contained within the “don’t ask, don’t tell” legislation itself. The law grants to the Defense Department authority to determine the process by which discharges will be carried out, saying they will proceed “under regulations prescribed by the Secretary of Defense… in accordance with procedures set forth in such regulation." Finally, the law calls for the discharge of service members “if” a finding of homosexuality is made, but it does not require that such a finding ever be made. According to the study, these provisions mean that the Pentagon, not Congress, has the “authority to devise and implement the procedures under which those findings may be made.”

Diane H. Mazur, Professor of Law at the University of Florida College of Law and another study co-author, said the presidential authority to stop firing gay troops, known as “stop-loss,” is different from the highly unpopular stop-loss policy that the Army recently announced it would phase out. “That use of stop-loss forcibly extends service by those who wish to leave the military,” she said, “whereas suspending discharges for homosexuality would do the opposite: allow ongoing service by those who wish to remain in uniform.” The study says the provisions of the stop-loss law, which are granted by Congress, are “sensible because they give the President authority to suspend laws relating to separation when a national emergency has strained personnel requirements.”

Mr. President, many of us who were, and still are, among your strongest supporters have been saying since the inauguration that we needed to be patient, that you needed time to settle-in. Well, now that we know, without a doubt, that you CAN do this, even our patience is beginning to wear very thin.

I'm sure you're aware that a healthy majority of your constituents, including military personnel themselves, from generals down to privates, have consistently said in numerous polls and public statements that they support the repeal of DADT. With those polls, the release of this study and the current disarray and even impotence of the right wing republican party, we're finding it more and more difficult to understand why this hasn't happened already. The overriding question we all have in our minds just became -- WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?

Mr. President -- NOW IS THE TIME to stand up and BE the "fierce advocate of equality for gay and lesbian Americans" that you unambiguously promised you would be.

May 10, 2009


President Barack Obama's exhilarating victory last November seemed to almost instantly inflate a sense of overwhelming pride and indomitable optimism throughout most of this country - and, indeed, the world.

Finally, after eight abysmal years of rampant arrogance, secrecy and stunning disregard for the very constitution that is the heart and soul of this nation, we could see light piercing through the darkness.

For the LGBT community, it was a particularly heady time of real hope for our future. Here we had a man elected President of the United States who had strongly and unabashedly voiced support for our community - for us.

He spoke openly, frequently and eloquently throughout the long, drawn-out campaign about the necessity for fair and equal treatment under the law. And not just for some amorphous group of rights but for GAY rights - specifically! He even went so far as to pledge to be a "fierce advocate of equality for gay and lesbian Americans."

It is true, Mr. President, that you have done more than any other sitting president to appoint qualified, openly gay professionals as heads of many important departments, agencies and pivotal positions within your administration. Although it is still disappointing that there were no cabinet level appointments even though there were several highly qualified, openly gay candidates.

It is also true that you did issue a strong public statement urging Congress to pass the Matthew Shepard Act. And I'm sure that your comments had a lot to do with swaying some of the undecideds to join the majority when they passed this legislation on April 29th.

It is however, very disappointing that two of the most important actions you vowed to vigorously pursue have yet to show any real progress.

Everyday there are more and more legally married and legally "partnered" gay couples and families establishing their relationships in cities and rural communities throughout this country. And even though this is a very positive trend, everyone of those couples continue to face a myriad of challenges and very real hardships caused by the so-called Defense Of Marriage Act (DOMA).

This is something you vowed to "vigorously" work toward the repeal of. So far, there seems to have been no visible effort on your part to help bring about this promised action. Granted, this is something that must be done by Congress but now, with your new, formidable position as President of the most powerful nation on earth, you could certainly push, prod and cajole enough members of both houses to bring this issue to a resolution instead of allowing them to sidestep and doublespeak their way around it.

Also, as you well know, there are still highly patriotic, skilled and exhaustively trained members of the armed services being discharged for no other reason than their status as gay Americans. When this happens, not only is the country itself harmed but good people like West Point graduate, Iraq war veteran, and Arab linguist, Lt. Choi or Second Lieutenant Sandy Tsao (who you wrote to personally) and thousands like them have their lives totally disrupted and their dreams of serving their country honorably and with dignity crushed by this illogical and harmful policy.

This is, to me, probably the most disturbing of all of the gay civil rights issues because this is something that you, as Commander and Chief, have the immediate power to stop. Right now. Today.

Granted, it may take some time to workout the implementation of ending the DADT policy altogether. But, in the meantime, a simple order from the President/Commander & Chief to "temporarily" stop these callous discharges until the details and legalities of ending this policy can be worked out would put an immediate end to the indiscriminate "punishment" of the distinguished, dedicated men and women now serving our country.

This can easily be justified under the auspices of protecting and maintaining military readiness in the midst of two wars being fought in Arabic/Muslim nations. How many missions were botched and how many lives were lost for no other reason than the fact that our forces simply didn't understand the languages and/or cultures within the fields of battle.

This IS something you can do right now, Mr President.

Yes. You can.