Showing posts with label Military. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Military. Show all posts

Monday, December 20, 2010

Don't Ask Don't Tell Repeal Passes, DREAM Act Dies; So Much Farther to Go in Christian America

     The Don't Ask, Don't Tell repeal passed the Senate over the weekend.  This a great milestone on the way to LGBT equality.  Tragically, the DREAM Act failed, which I'm sure pleased Bigot McCain and our nations' other racist xenophobes.

     But things remain a bit confusing, so let me get straight.  Here's the Christmas-state of the union:  

     The ruling Christian class has now given me the right to kill many men, but still withholds the right to love just one.

     The ruling class did not include transgender soldiers in the DADT repeal.  So these individuals are free to civilly marry a person of the same biological sex (as long as the individual has had his or her legal sex changed), but this person is not allowed to kill transgender people in foreign lands.    


     In some of the United States, I'm forbidden to adopt and care for a child, but in foreign states I can use our tax-funded bullets and bombs to blow children apart.

     All praise and glory be to the just and compassionate god of the Christians, for He is a wonderful counselor, a prince of peace, wisdom and understanding, who wears righteousness as His belt, and cares for the poor, the widow and the orphan (unless they are a different color, religion, orientation, or nationality).  Thank dog that he came into the world roughly 2010 years ago (depending upon the heavily redacted and religiously syncretized source of your choosing).  Dog bless America, where the currency, 90% which is in the hands of the upper 10% of the U.S. population, reads: "In God [sic] We Trust."  No doubt.

     The fight for equality continues.  ENDA died in Congress this year.  Obama's justice department is still fighting to overturn the Federal Court ruling that DOMA is unconstitutional.  We've scored victories on DADT and Hate Crimes legislation, but there's much more to be done in the Land of the Free Institutionalized Homophobia, Hatred, Bigotry, Racism and Xenophobia.

Postscript:
     Update on Lt. Dan Choi; his response to the DADT repeal; how PTSD landed him in the hospital.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Pentagon's Report on Repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell Released; Guess Who's Still Not Coming to Dinner

     Yesterday, the Pentagon's Report of the Comprehensive Review of the Issues Associated with a Repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" was released.  Read it by clicking here.  The Pentagon's conclusion is that DADT should be repealed.

     Secretary Gates wants the Senate to pass a graduated repeal, before the scary "activist judges" force an immediate full repeal (see the second video below).  Why is "activist" considered a bad word by so many on the Right?  If it weren't for activists who challenged their generations' affronts to civil rights, we wouldn't have women's suffrage, the abolition of slavery, religious freedom, child labor laws, etc.  We wouldn't have the United States of America.



     But not everyone in the military that was polled in the report wants gays and lesbians to be able to serve honestly and openly.   A military minority is dissenting.  Guess who's most opposed to the repeal?  Military chaplains.  I was in seminary with someone who is now a military chaplain.  Rumor was that he hit on guys left and right (and I do mean that politically).  It's okay for priests to sleep with liberals, but not to agree with them politically.  It's okay for priests to sleep around (even with men), as long as nobody knows about it.  Don't Ask, Don't Tell indeed. 

     Imagine if the Pentagon did a study of whether Female or Muslim soldiers in the military has a negative impact on "unit cohesiveness," etc.  My guess is that there would be just as vocal a minority against these groups as there are against gays and lesbians.

     The military has already integrated persons of color and women.  People of all religious beliefs can serve.  Gays and lesbians are already serving in the military.  I find it revolting that it took 267 pages for the the military and many of our tax dollars for President Obama and the Pentagon to finally conclude that honest soldiers won't destroy the integrity of the armed forces.  Apparently, in twenty-first America, honesty and integrity cost.
     Now the question is whether the Senate's Republican minority will block the military's request for repeal.  Flip-flopping hypocrite and leader of repeal's opposition, Sen. John McCain called for more hearings and study, just weeks ago.  Apparently, he's more interested in spending more of our tax dollars on preserving discrimination and bigotry than on the 9.6% of Americans who are unemployed (but remember he's for deficit reduction and is on the side of the middle class, blah, blah, blah).  As of this morning, McCain's was already making a preemptive strike against the DADT report, criticizing its parameters and accusing the Pentagon and Obama administration of not being objective.

     My prediction: the Republican minority will again block a vote on the repeal in the Senate.  Over the past two years, they have consistently shown us that they are not concerned with what is best for the people of this nation, but only with what is best for their political careers.  Right now, they are more concerned with opposing anything that President Obama supports and exposing his ineptitude than with doing what is right and good for the American people.
  

     In this video, Rachel Maddow discusses the report and names numerous Republican senators, who over the past year said they were waiting for the military's report and green light before repealing DADT.

     In this video, Keith Olbermann interview Dan Savage about the report and whether McCain will again block the repeal.
     

Saturday, November 20, 2010

More Arrests at White House of DADT Protesters, Including My Friend Geoff Farrow

     This week, my friend Father Geoff Farrow was arrested for civil disobedience in Washington, DC, along with twelve other civil rights advocates, including Dan Choi.  They were protesting Don't Ask Don't Tell and the Obama administration's heel dragging in ending this hateful and discriminatory policy.  Here is a link to Geoff's blog and his reflections upon why he handcuffed himself to the White House's fence.

Thank you Geoff, for putting yourself out there to confront hatred.
This image is from fathergeofffarrow.blogspot.com.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Don't Ask Don't Tell Is Back in Effect

     The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals stayed the lower court's decision that DADT is unconstitutional, so once again, gays and lesbians can be booted from the military (even though it's been declared unconstitutional to do so).  Where our "fierce advocate"?

Friday, October 29, 2010

Early Word on Pentagon's Don't Ask Don't Tell Study: Majority of Troops Don't Care

         The Washington Post reports:
     A majority of active-duty and reserve service members surveyed by the Defense Department would not object to serving and living alongside openly gay troops, according to multiple people familiar with the findings.
     The survey's results are expected to be included in a Pentagon report, due to President Obama on Dec. 1, regarding how the military would end enforcement of the "don't ask, don't tell" law that bans openly gay men and lesbians from serving in uniform.
     Some troops surveyed - but not a majority - objected strongly to the idea of serving with gays and said they would quit the military if the policy changed, said the sources, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to publicly share details of the survey.
     Defense Department officials did not respond to requests for comment.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Department of Justice Demands Reinstitution of Don't Ask Don't Tell

     One day after a federal court issued a worldwide injunction halting the implementation of the hate-and-myth-based Don't Ask Don't Tell, President Obama's Department of Justice wants the power to discriminate immediately reinstated, even though it's been declared unconstitutional in federal court.  Despite the fact that we live in a nation where all are created equal, our president, his administration, and a minority of senators want to continue discriminating against gays and lesbians.  Some justice.

     The Los Angeles Times reports:
     The Justice Department on Wednesday asked a federal appeals court in San Francisco to quickly set aside a judge's order that bars enforcement of the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy, saying the judge's "extraordinary decision" went too far, too fast...
     Moreover, the judge's order suspending enforcement of the military's "don't ask" policy has caused "confusion and uncertainty" at the Pentagon and among gays and lesbians in the ranks, the government said.  If an appeals court reverses the judge and affirms the constitutionality of the law, it "would create tremendous uncertainty about the status of service members who may reveal their sexual orientation in reliance" on the judge's order suspending the law, the government said.
     For all these reasons, it said a three-judge panel should issue an emergency order lifting the injunction.  If the 9th Circuit refuses to lift the judge's order, the government could then seek an emergency stay from the U.S. Supreme Court.
     The confusion being created is not the fault of the courts, but the fault of a commander in chief, who doesn't have the balls to stick up for what he claims is right and just.

     This confusion is part of what it means to be gay or lesbian in a nation where one's civil rights are bartered.  You can be civilly married; you can serve in the military.  No wait.  You can't.  The majority, the minority, or whomever has a finger on the button can grant you your inalienable rights or strip them away.  This is not hyperbole.  This is the reality in the military, in California, in Maine, in America.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Worldwide Injunction Issued against Don't Ask Don't Tell; Dan Choi Reenlists

     NPR reports:
     A federal judge issued a worldwide injunction Tuesday stopping enforcement of the "don't ask, don't tell" policy, ending the military's 17-year-old ban on openly gay troops.
     U.S. District Judge Virginia Phillips' landmark ruling was widely cheered by gay rights organizations that credited her with getting accomplished what President Obama and Washington politics could not.
     "This order from Judge Phillips is another historic and courageous step in the right direction, a step that Congress has been noticeably slow in taking," said Alexander Nicholson, executive director of Servicemembers United and the sole named veteran plaintiff in the case along with the Log Cabin Republicans.
     Yeah, Log Cabin Republicans!

     The bad news is that the U.S Department of Justice has sixty days to appeal the decision.  How will our fierce (but toothless) advocate President Obama lead?  Will he realize his promise to end the discrimination of DADT or will he appeal the federal court's decision?

     Not wasting anytime, one soldier who had been discharged for being gay immediately reenlisted.  ABC News reports:
     Iraq War veteran and former Army Lt. Dan Choi was discharged from the National Guard in July after outing himself as a gay man, in violation of "don't ask, don't tell."
     But with the controversial military policy no longer in effect after a federal judge issued an injunction, Choi headed to a Times Square military recruitment center in New York Tuesday to re-enlist.
     "Today is a great day we can all celebrate," he said after filling out the paperwork. "I'm very excited to be in service to this country."

Don't Ask Don't Tell Update: Maddow Interviews Meghan McCain about Her Father's Anti-Gay Stance

     Here's Rachel Maddow's update on Don't Ask Don't Tell.  In it, she interviews Meghan McCain about Sen. John McCain's promise to filibuster any attempt in the Senate to overturn DADT and about President Obama's failure to keep his election promises to the LGBT community.  Also in the video, GOP senate candidate Ken Buck of Colorado's comment that being gay is a choice.  Keep speaking out Meghan!  Thanks for showing that a conservative can support LGBT equal rights.  You and Ted Olson rule!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Our Fierce but Toothless Advocate; White House Appeals DOMA Ruling, What Will Obama Do with Don't Ask Don't Tell?

     President Obama just can't stop being a good Christian (and a hypocrite who breaks his political promises to LGBT persons).

     Yesterday, there was good news and bad news in federal-court-land.

     The good news:  on the Don't Ask Don't Tell front, Judge Virginia Phillips, who ruled in last month that DADT is unconstitutional, issued a worldwide injunction against the policy ordering the immediate end to investigations and discharges of gay and lesbian military personnel.  The bad news is that the Department of Justice has sixty days to appeal the decision.  Will the Obama administration appeal?  Will the president continue to be our self-proclaimed "fierce advocate" while letting this unconstitutional policy stand?

    For an indication of what might happen, we turn to the really bad news.  

     Yesterday, the Obama administration filed an appeal in federal court, challenging the ruling out of Massachusetts that the Defense of Marriage Act, which bars the marriages of same-sex couples from being recognized across state lines and bars these married couples from all federal civil marriage benefits, is unconstitutional.  

     U.S. District Court Judge Joseph Tauro had ruled on July 8 in the cases, Gill v. Office of Personnel Management and Massachusetts v. Department of Health and Human Services, that Section 3 of DOMA was unconstitutional on several grounds, finding that the marriage definition violated the equal protection and due process guarantees, as well as the Spending Clause and Tenth Amendment.
     The Obama administration is appealing a federal judge's ruling holding unconstitutional a portion of the federal Defense of Marriage Act that bars health and retirement benefits for the same-sex spouses of federal employees.
     In July, U.S. District Court Judge Joseph Tauro ruled that the 1996 law violates the rights of states to set their own marriage policies and the rights of same-sex couples married in the states that permit such marriages.
     President Barack Obama has called for repealing DOMA, but the Justice Department defended the law in the trial court, citing a general policy of defending all statutes unless there is no plausible legal basis on which to do so...
    Facing a deadline in the state's case on Tuesday, the Justice Department filed a notice of appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 1st Circuit. The bare-bones notice, linked here, is fairly typical of such filings. It includes no argument nor any disclaimer about Obama disagreeing with the law.
     Where's Obama's fierce advocacy now?  Where are his teeth?  Where have they been?

     It's supposedly "standard procedure" for the White House to appeal federal decisions.  So, be fierce, President Obama.  Break the standard.  Or at the very least, include your arguments against the policy in the appeal.  You are, after all, the Commander in Chief elected by mandate who promised change we could believe it.  

     Help us to believe again.  Because, I don't.  I believe the stinging toothmarks in my ass.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Another Federal Judge Rules Against Don't Ask Don't Tell

     On Top Magazine reports:
A federal judge in Washington has ordered the U.S. Air Force to reinstate Major Margaret Witt, a flight nurse who was discharged in 2006 for violating “Don't Ask, Don't Tell,” the military policy that allows gay and lesbian service members to serve so long as they remain celibate and closeted.
After a six-day trial, U.S. District Court Judge Ronald B. Leighton found that Witt's sexual orientation had not negatively impacted her unit's morale or cohesion as the military had argued.
The American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU, represented Witt at trial.
“Today we heard the hammer of justice strike for Major Margaret Witt,” Kathleen Taylor, executive director of the ACLU of Washington, said. “We look forward to the day when all members of our military can serve our country without invidious discrimination To discharge Major Witt simply because of her sexual orientation was entirely unfair to her and unwise for the military, which needs her significant skills.”
Witt was expelled from the military in 2004 for “homosexual conduct” after her commanders learned she was involved in a lesbian relationship.
“I want to serve my country,” Witt, a flight nurse with a distinguished 19-year career in the Air Force, said. “I have loved being in the military – my fellow airmen have been my family. I am proud of my career and want to continue doing my job.”

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Incredible Statistics: DADT & the DREAM Act Are Supported by the Vast Majority of Americans

     There are many reasons that the Republicans claim they blocked the Defense Authorization Bill in the Senate today.  

     The two amendments that they objected to in the bill were the repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell, which wasn't to go into effect until the military deemed it the right time, and the passage of the DREAM Act, which would grant citizenship to college graduates who were brought to the United States illegally by their parents when they were children.

     Here is some incredible data regarding the DREAM Act and DADT via TruthOut:
     It is important to note that senators representing a relatively small minority of the American population sustained a filibuster of a bill despite the fact that it contained very popular provisions. According to polling, 70 percent of Americans support the DREAM Act and 75 percent of Americans support fully repealing DADT.
     The 42 senators who filibustered the bill, on the other hand, represent only 36 percent of the American population. Thanks to senate procedure, a small minority can easily obstruct the will of the vast majority of the public.


Does John McCain Have Alzheimer's? The Post-Filibuster Meltdown & a Letter to Cindy and Meghan

     After leading the Republican filibuster to block the Defense Authorization Bill before it even reached the floor for debate, Senator John McCain had this meltdown, when questioned about Don't Ask Don't Tell by The Advocate's Kerry Eleveld.
     Did I just witness the fabled "Gay Panic"?  Or is John McCain just being an ass hole?  Is he lying?  It sounds like he has Tourette Syndrome or possibly Alzheimer's.  More than likely, we just got a glimpse into McCain's tautological inner monologue.
"It's not the policy.  It's not the policy.  It's not the policy..."
    In the video embedded at the bottom of this post, Rachel Maddow interviews Maj. Mike Almy, who was dismissed under DADT after his emails were searched by the Air Force.  Maj. Almy didn't tell, but the military asked.  John McCain watched Maj. Almy's testimony earlier this year before the Senate Armed Services Committee.  So, either McCain didn't listen to Almy, McCain's lying, or he forgot.

    I've watched two of my grandparents die with Alzheimer's.  In my days as a priest, I ministered in numerous nursing homes and retirement centers that had Alzheimer's wings.  I've seen the anger, confusion, and repetition of thought that comes in the early stages of this disease.  So, I've written this letter:
     Dear Meghan and Cindy McCain,
     Over the past year, it seems that your father/husband has forgotten who he used to be.  He is fighting against bills he previously supported and principles he once held.  For months, I thought he was just being a hypocrite and playing to the Tea Party base for his re-election bid, but after witnessing his meltdown today, I think he might be losing his mind to Alzheimer's.
     I know that sounds harsh, but I've seen this reversion to almost childlike behavior before in elderly people who've suffered from Alzheimer's.  Watching the mind, memories, and personality of a loved one deteriorate into a shell of what they once were is painful.  I was there when we moved my screaming grandmother into a nursing home.  I was there when my grandfather couldn't stop crying because he couldn't go home.  But neither one of them was fit to live at home.  They needed to be cared for by people capable of doing so.
     If you have noticed that Senator McCain is forgetting names and events. if he's repeating himself in conversations, if he's displaying any signs of Alzheimer's onset, please get him to a doctor.  The Senator's government-provided health insurance will pay for drugs that may slow his mind's deterioration.  Maybe I'm wrong.  Maybe the doctor will say that the Senator's fine, but he owes it to his constituents and to you, his family, to get checked out.
     It's not easy to take away the keys to an elderly loved one's car, but if your father/husband is suffering from Alheimer's please don't let him run for reelection.  He owes it to the American people to step down from office.
     Sincerely,
                       Heretic Tom  
     PS.  Thank you for standing up for LGBTrights! 

Republicans Succeed in Blocking Don't Ask Don't Tell Repeal and Passage of the DREAM Act

     Children of immigrants and gay and lesbian soldiers were once again thrown under John McCain's Straight Talk Express today, the victims a Republican political maneuvering and Democratic impotence.

     Hypocrite McCain was successful in leading Republicans and two Democrats in a Senate filibuster to block the repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell and the passage of the DREAM Act, two things McCain previously supported.

     I, for one, am sick and tired of having my civil rights and the rights of immigrants being used as political weapons.  I'm also disgusted with "fierce advocate" President Obama repeatedly failing to stand up for what is right and stop discrimination against gay and lesbian soldiers.

     The U.S. Senate dashed the hopes of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal supporters on Tuesday when a vote to proceed on major defense legislation containing repeal language failed, 56-43.
     A unified GOP caucus — in addition to Democratic Arkansas Sens. Mark Pryor and Blanche Lincoln — comprised the “no” votes that defeated a cloture vote on the fiscal year 2011 defense authorization bill.  Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) changed his vote to “no” in a procedural move so he could bring the bill up at a later time.  The votes of 60 senators were necessary to end Sen. John McCain’s (R-Ariz.) filibuster and move forward with the legislation.
     Advocacy groups working on “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal bemoaned the failure of reaching cloture in statements following the vote.  Alex Nicholson, executive director of Servicemembers United, said the inability to invoke cloture is “a failure of leadership on the part of those who have been duly elected to serve this nation and to put the best interests of the country ahead of partisan politics.”
     “The Senate could learn a good lesson from those who serve in uniform and who stand to benefit from proceeding to debate on this bill — serving this country means putting politics aside and getting the job done,” he said. “It is simply inexcusable that this vote failed today.”
     The Washington Post printed a number of reactions including this one from Rea Carey, executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force:
     "Once again, politicians are playing politics with people's lives. Filibustering the defense authorization bill to block action on 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' repeal and the DREAM Act -- two measures that do justice to the fundamental principle of fairness -- is a disappointment and disservice to our country. Seventy-eight percent of Americans support ending 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' and countless others believe that young people should be provided a path to citizenship in the country they love and have always called home. Today's Senate vote mocks those ideals. The senators who led and supported the filibuster effort should be ashamed."

DADT Filibuster Update: Susan Collins Threatens to Join Republican Filibuster

     CBS News reports:
     Republican Senator Susan Collins of Maine says she supports the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy, but indicates she will join the Republican filibuster against proceeding to the Department of Defense Authorization bill if Senate Majority Leader Reid does not allow her Republican colleagues the opportunity to be heard and offer amendments to the bill.
     The Huffington Post explains how Collins' logic is off.  In actuality, the Republican filibuster will make it impossible for amendments to be offered and heard.
     Collins made an eloquent case that the DADT policy is unfair and morally indefensible, that it is a waste of taxpayer resources and that other nation's that don't similarly discriminate have seen no adverse consequences. But equally as troubling to Collins as the policy, she said, is Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's (D-Nev.) failure to allow unlimited amendments to the defense bill.
     "I find myself on the horns of a dilemma," said Collins. "I was the sole Republican in the committee that voted [to repeal DADT]. I think it's the right thing to do. I think it's only fair."  But, she said, refusing to allow unlimited amendments is an equal affront to decency. "That too is not fair," said Collins of Reid's decision. "I cannot vote to proceed to this bill under a situation that is going to shut down debate.
     Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.), chairman of the Armed Services Committee, took the Senate floor after Collins to say that he agreed that members should have the opportunity to amend it, but Republicans were filibuster the motion to proceed to the debate - and without proceeding to the debate, there could be no amendments.  Reid spokesman Jim Manley said that he was "not sure how many more assurances that we can provide both privately and publicly to [Collins], but we need to get to the bill first of all."

     Yes, Collins you are such a friend to gays, using our rights as bait for your political agenda.  It's time Maine dumps their "moderate" Republican Senators.

John McCain & Republicans to Filibuster DADT, DREAM, & the Entire DA Bill; Lady Gaga Attacks

     Republicans to filibuster the entire defense authorization bill in order to fight the repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell. Who's leading the way? Hypocrite John McCain, who formerly said he'd repeal the discriminatory policy when the military leadership got on board.

     Yesterday in Maine, Lady Gaga challenged McCain and the Republicans' use of homophobia to justify Don't Ask Don't Tell.

     It's all in the Rachel Maddow segments below: