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July 30, 2009


This is both disturbing and encouraging news at the same time.

Congressman Alcee Hastings introduced a bill to withhold from the DOD funding bill specific funds that are used to carry out the DADT policy discharges. The next day, Hastings was pressured (read, forced) by White House representatives and other congressional colleagues to withdraw his bill.

Yesterday, Representative Hastings appeared on MSNBC's Rachel Maddow Show to explain his reason for introducing and then withdrawing his bill. Below is that interview:

The encouraging parts are the comments made by Secretary of Defense Gates and others. Hastings' bill not withstanding, it's clearly becoming more and more obvious with every passing day that DADT's days are numbered. The disturbing part is that Hastings had to withdraw his bill. Even more frustrating is the fact that every day that passes means more and more gay and lesbian service members are discharged.

What I still don't understand (because it's never been made clear) is why the President wouldn't want those needless discharges stopped before anymore lives are disrupted and anymore dreams of honorably serving their country are smashed.

BTW - for those of you who may not know, Rachel Maddow the is first openly gay anchor to be hired to host a prime-time news program in the United States.

July 28, 2009


According to a July 25th Associated Press article by Kristen Wyatt, Speaker Of The House Nancy Pelosi appointed openly gay Representative Jared Polis (D Colorado) to the U.S. Air Force Academy's Board of Visitors.

Polis, who took office in January as the first openly gay non-incumbent ever elected to congress, is now also the first openly gay member to serve on an oversight board at any of the military service academies. This, of course, immediately set off waves of speculation about the Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy itself.

People on both sides of the DADT policy are openly wondering if Polis' appointment is a signal that change is coming.

"We're all reading the tea leaves here," said Tricia Heller, a Class of '87 Air Force Academy graduate who flew C-9 jets for the Air Force before the leaving the service four years ago and coming out.

"I'm not saying 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' is going away. We can't say that. But this is a good sign."

For the supporters of DADT, this appointment signals the policy''s undoing.

"This is more than a signal," said Elaine Donnelly, president of the Washington-based Center For Military Readiness, a group of mostly civilians that favors banning gays from service. "I think when you're talking about the service academies, you're talking about the future of the military leadership. So this appointment, it appears to be advocacy."

Polis said that he doesn't plan to push for a change through the Board. But when asked about the future of DADT, he said that he expects that Congress could start debating its repeal as early as this fall. He added:

"We expect that [DADT] to end shortly, and I look forward to being a value to the Academy in making the transition."

I truly hope that he's right. This is one of the most destructive, cruel and idiotic military policies politicians have ever passed and it's end can't come soon enough.

In A Related Story...
The Advocate reported yesterday that newly appointed Democratic Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York announced Monday that the Senate Armed Services Committee will hold hearings this fall on DADT.

“This policy is wrong for our national security and wrong for the moral foundation upon which our country was founded,” Senator Gillibrand said in a statement. “I thank Chairman Levin for agreeing to hold this important hearing. Numerous military leaders are telling us that the times have changed. ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ is an unfair, outdated measure that violates the civil rights of some of our bravest, most heroic men and women. By repealing this policy, we will increase America’s strength -- both militarily and morally.”

Although no repeal bill has been submitted yet, it is expected that Senator Edward Kennedy, who has been a long-time champion of repealing DADT, will introduce his bill as soon as he can find a Republican co-sponsor.

Gillibrand said that her effort to build support for a temporary moratorium on DADT discharges had helped push the ball forward.

Finally! Now, if we can just get the repeal of DOMA moving forward...

July 27, 2009


Trooper James Wharton of the British Army is now the new face of gays in the military.

Nine years ago the European Court of Human Rights issued a ruling that pressured Britain and other member countries to allow openly gay men and women to serve in their militaries. This month, the July issue of the British Military's own official magazine, Soldier, featured a cover photo of openly gay Army Trooper James Wharton with the word "PRIDE" highlighted from the subdued background of the military's credo.

In the accompanying article, Wharton said that instead of being oppressed and driven to hiding as gays had been forced to do in the past (which is, sadly, still our present), gay and lesbian Army personnel are now given full support.

“I came out to the Army before I told my parents, so that says a lot for the Armed Forces,” said the 22-year-old.

“I told the Army in March 2003, after all my initial training was over – I was 18. I have always known I was gay but it wasn’t until then that I told anyone.”

In 1999, in ruling on two landmark cases, the European Court of Human Rights found that the policy of banning openly gay people from serving in the military was "not sustainable." Following that ruling, in 2000 the British military (along with other European member nations) dropped its ban and opened it doors to all gay and lesbian applicants.

2000 was also the year that George W. Bush was "installed" as President by our Supreme Court. So, of course, the ban on gays in our military was kept staunchly in place thanks in large part to the ensuing rise of religious fanaticism here.

Wharton said of our own baffling and persistant policy:

“I still can’t get my head round the US’ ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy.”

“Luckily I don’t have to deal with it, but clearly there will be gay soldiers in the US Army who are not being themselves – they aren’t allowed to be.”

Granted, there have been some problems with the implementation of and adherence to the British policy but, as Wharton put it:

“Obviously there are people who are set in their ways and aren’t in favour of the changed policy, but the whole attitude is different.”


“I think there is room for improvement as far as the Army is concerned because there are still people who can’t accept the changes – but it’s 1,000 times better than ten years ago.”

In fact, British military attitudes have changed so much that at last year's London Gay Pride March, gay men and women in the military were allowed to march in the parade in full military uniforms for the first time.

I wholeheartedly agree with Pennsylvania Representative Patrick Murphy, who is spearheading a bill to repeal DADT. The idea that the American armed forces would suffer morale and recruiting problems if they followed suit is incredibly partronizing. As Murphy put it, "To say that other countries' soldiers are professional enough to handle this and American soldiers aren't is really a slap in the face."

For a country that is supposed to be the shining beacon of hope for justice and equality, it's embarrassing just how far behind we are when compared to our european allies.