Tuesday, June 30, 2009

DAY 43: DADT Update

Sunday was quite possibly one of the best days in my life. (That's me walking beside the car with SF Pride's Grand Marshall Lt. Dan Choi riding inside). So many people came up to Dan and told him how proud they were of him or how much they respect him. Let's hope the government can do the same!

Just about now in Syracuse, NY a hearing is beginning to determine what is next. Will they keep him or will they fire him?

Folk, I hope they can do the right thing - not only for Dan, but for our future. I bid your prayers.

Monday, June 29, 2009

DAY 42: DADT Update

This past week, Councilman Bill Rosendahl and LA City Council honored the new leaders and growing diversity of the lgbt movement including Daniel Choi.
Saturday Dan was at the Pink Triangle dedication and yesterday he served as Grand Marshall in San Francisco's Pride Celebration. (I was honored to spend some time with him too).

THERE IS NO WAY IN HELL THAT THIS MAN DESERVES TO BE FIRED FROM HIS JOB! Tomorrow, a hearing in Upstate New York will decide whether to discharge him. It is not to late to speak up and let YOUR voice be heard. Let people know you think DADT is a ridiculous policy that needs to be ended NOW!

And keep Lt. Choi in your thoughs and prayers!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

DAY 42: DADT Update

Pride Weekend continues here in San Francisco. Lt. Dan Choi is among the Grand Marshalls in the parade which begins at 10:30am. Click HERE for more on the parade.

If you read the comments for this blog you might have already noticed the comment left by a reader yesterday, but I particularly want to call your attention to the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network which protested at the White House yesterday. There is youtube video HERE.

Over the weekend I have had a chance to meet some of the OUT West Point grads and I could not be more proud of them for their honesty. The honor code that is taught is sacred and it is heartwarming that so many of them take it seriously and had to be honest and not hide. Let us be supportive of this bravery and this honesty! Let us demand an end to DADT!

Tuesday Dan Choi has his hearing. Keep him in your thoughts and prayers.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

DAY 41: DADT Update

It is Pride Weekend here in San Francisco where I am and a lot of people here will be talking this weekend about an end to DADT.

When Army National Guard Lt. Dan Choi fell in love, he couldn't stop talking about it.
Except for one tiny lie. Matthew, his beloved, became "Martha."
Choi lived in a "don't ask, don't tell" world, an Arabic-speaking West Point graduate and combat veteran of the Iraq war, whose future career, health and housing benefits depended on a smooth relationship with the military.
Caught between fear and freedom, Choi finally couldn't take it anymore. In March, the 28-year-old Harvard student and his friends formed a support group for gay West Point graduates called Knights Out, and a week later, he put on his uniform and went on MSNBC's "Rachel Maddow Show".
Cameras rolling, he said three words that would rocket him to the front of the gay rights movement and earn him an invitation to be one of six celebrity grand marshals in Sunday's Gay Pride Parade:
"I am gay."
Then, his microphone cut out. It remains a technological mystery.
But the roar he created has not died down.
The New York Army National Guard sent Choi a letter in May telling him proceedings had begun to remove him from the military for "moral and professional dereliction." And two days after Choi appears in the Pride Parade, he will have to defend himself in military court.
"I have to prove it's not immoral to tell the truth," he said.
Members of his military unit have written letters of support and offered to testify on his behalf. More than 70 West Point graduates came out of the closet and joined Knights Out.
Many supporters
Since appearing on Maddow's show, Choi has seen his in-box crowded with e-mail calling him a hero. Although he came out to his parents months before going on television, his mother and his Southern Baptist preacher father in Orange County continued to tell him he was shameful.
Choi took a leave from his Middle East and Religious Studies master's degree program at Harvard to do media interviews, and to take a trip to Italy to celebrate out loud with Matthew, a sales executive for Gucci.
"Coming out has turned into a full-time job," he said.
Choi has never been to a gay pride parade before, and he's thrilled to be part of one of the largest ones in the country. Hundreds of thousands are expected to watch more than 200 floats cruise down Market Street, ushered in by a celebrity grand marshal court that includes Oscar-winning actress Cloris Leachman and "Milk" movie producers Bruce Cohen and Dan Jinks. His San Francisco visit will be life changing - but brief. On Tuesday Choi is due back at the New York National Guard Armory in Syracuse at 8 a.m., to stand trial before a panel of colonels who will decide whether to kick Choi out of the military.
He's prepared for whatever comes. Nothing is worse, he said, than living a lie.
"National security means many things, but the thing that makes us secure in our nation and homes is love - what makes me a better soldier, leader, Christian and human being is love and I didn't want to keep hiding it," Choi said.
Choi will be joined in the parade by his younger sister, one of the first family members he confided in. Twenty-eight members of Knights Out are flying in from around the country to walk behind his car in the parade.
"Living in San Francisco, we can think that all the LGBT rights have been won, but Choi's story shows there is still workplace discrimination where people are frightened to come out and live authentically," said Lindsey Jones, executive director of the Pride Parade.
At least 12,500 discharged
At least 12,500 gays and lesbians have been discharged from military service for violating the "don't ask, don't tell" policy, a political compromise forged when Bill Clinton was president. An estimated 65,000 are believed to be currently serving in the military.
Barack Obama campaigned for the presidency on a promise to repeal the ban on gays in the military, but has yet to take action. On Monday, 77 members of Congress signed a letter to Obama urging him to repeal the ban. In it, they cited Choi's exceptional service and dedication and a May Gallup poll that found 69 percent of Americans - including 58 percent of Republicans - favor allowing openly gay men and lesbian women to serve in the military.
Becky Kanis, who kept her lover a secret until after she graduated from West Point in 1991, will be marching in the Knights Out contingent behind Choi.
It's the first time West Point graduates have ever marched in a gay pride parade - a little historic push toward making the country a more honorable place, she said.
"Having to lie about who you are dating is what hurts unit morale," she said. "People can sense when you are hiding something, and it builds distrust."
During his 15 months in combat in Iraq, Choi helped rebuild hospitals and return soccer stadiums from torture arenas to playing fields. Because he could speak Arabic, he was vital to negotiating between the military and local governments.
And he told several members of his military unit that he was gay. None, he said, had a problem with it, especially other gay soldiers.
"If I lose all my medical benefits, I won't get health care America," Choi said. "But we rebuilt hospitals in Iraq and the doctors I met there would help me. So we have to take a harder look at this issue of morality."

Keep checking here every day for updates. Talk to your friends and you family too. Keep us in your prayers.

Friday, June 26, 2009

DAY 40: DADT Update

While this blog used to be about me, it no longer is. It is about seeing an end to DADT. It is also not about Daniel Choi. We mention him of course because he has become a symbol of the fight. He is a man who is being kicked out of the military, although enormously qualified, simply because he admitted being gay.

I want to mention that Dan will be in San Francisco this weekend to be one of the Grand Marshalls in the annual LGBT Pride Celebration Parade on Sunday morning. Members and allies of Knights Out will be marching with him. If you are in the SF Bay Area, come on by and show your support! (More information on the parade is at http://sf-pride.org/ and more information about Knights Out can be found at http://knightsout.org - Knights Out is an organization of OUT LGBT West Point Alumni, along with their Straight West Point Alumni, Staff, and Faculty counterparts, who are united in supporting the rights of LGBT soldiers to openly serve their country).

I also want to remind you to write those letters of support. The hearing is next Tuesday. There is more on that on the Knights Out site also.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

DAY 39: DADT Update

If you have just begun reading this let me fill you in on what I am doing here. DADT stands for Don't Ask/Don't Tell and it is the ridiculous policy that ends the careers of gay men and women in the US military. Although I have always fought for social justice for ALL people, I never spent a particularly large amount of time on DADT. This blog was always different and I spoke here of many different things. Thirty nine days ago that all changed. After having heard about Lt. Daniel Choi, I was inspired to read more and then I was inspired to write. I do that every single day now. If you want to keep up to date here, you might want to become a follower.

The document above is the first page of the action against Lt. Choi that will be heard next Tuesday. You can find out more by reading back through some of the past entries here in this blog. You can also go to the website that Lt. Choi just began a few days ago at http://www.ltdanchoi.com/

What else can you do? Tell your friends and your family how you feel. Write letters. Leave comments here. Ideas? Let us hear them too!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

DAY 38: DADT Update

At a press conference Monday, at the offices of Equality Illinois, Senator Roland Burris, said that he opposes the military's “Don't Ask/Don't Tell” policy and that the federal law should be repealed by Congress. With veterans and their supporters standing behind him, Senator Burris addressed a press pool of about 20 people.

Burris is not the only member of Congress to be supportive, just one of the most recent ones. If you have not yet written to your senators and representatives, now would be a great time!

In the last five years the military has discharged almost 800 mission-critical troops and at least 59 Arabic and nine Farsi linguists under DADT. Almost 13,000 service members have been discharged since 1994.

We have been telling you here how you can help and letter writing is certainly an easy way. Don't you think it is ridiculous to be firing these qualified men and women based on their sexual orientation? If this was the public sector, it would be totally illegal!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

DAY 37: DADT Update

You can help Lt. Choi in another way. As most of you know, next Tuesday the Army National Guard will decide to discharge him (fire him from his job) based solely on his truthful statement that he is gay and that he chose to stand trial so he could fight to stay in the service. This happens at the Thompson Road Armory in Syracuse, NY beginning at 8am next Tueday the 30th of June. Send a letter to them and show your personal support.

You can get more information about this and other ideas of how you can help on his website at http://www.ltdanchoi.com/ I have been saying all along that we can all make a difference. Write a letter. Get your friends to write too! In addition, don't just tell the military they need to keep him, also tell the President!

This is just a week from now, so don't wait! I'll keep you posted.

Monday, June 22, 2009

DAY 36: DADT Update

I'm in Arizona and besides having a good time, I've been looking at a lot of history. In one place I visited, there were tons of old newspapers and magazines. One of them was of a TIME issue that I actually remembered. The cover story was about Leonard Matlovich. (This folks was way before DADT).

Technical Sergeant Leonard Matlovich (1943–1988) was a Vietnam War veteran, race relations instructor, and recipient of the Bronze Star and the Purple Heart. He was also perhaps the best known openly gay man in the US back in the 1970s. His fight to stay in the US Air Force after deciding not to hide and to come of the closet became a cause around which the gay community rallied. Some of you who were alive back then might even remember the television movie.

The above picture is from the September 8, 1975 issue of TIME magazine. Since his death he has been honored several times and to many in our military he too is a symbol of pride.

As we continue to look for an end to DADT, let us remember all who were booted from the military as a result of this policy and all those who were kicked out for being gay, even before then.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

DAY 35: DADT Update

Don't Hide is what it says on those shirts I have spoken of a few times here and it, as I have said is also a good motto for all of us. Now five months into his presidency I might also say to Mr. Obama "Don't hide. Stay true to your promises."

Continuing my vacation here in Arizona, I have to tell you about some Army guys I ran into on a day trip to the Grand Canyon. I thanked them for their service, and then I asked them what they thought about Don't Ask/Don't Tell. All three of them opposed it and did not hesitate to say so! (I didn't ask, but don't think any of the three are gay).

I visited a church in Sodona, AZ this morning and in their newsletter was the following prayer:

Almighty God, we commend to your gracious care and keeping all the men and women of our armed forces at home and abroad. Defend them day by day with your heavenly grace; strengthen them in their trials and temptations; give them courage to face the perils which beset them; and grant them a sense of your abiding presence wherever they may be; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

(please note that it does not say no gays or lesbians - the prayer comments ALL men and women serving)

Oh and by the way, happy Pride Month to you all. There are celebrations all over the world. I'll be marching in the San Francisco one when I get home - Lt. Choi is Grand Marshall in that one. If you are in the SF area, come out and show your support!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

DAY 34: DADT Update

I want to let you know that this is not a one soldier issue. I have often spoken of one man, because he has been so visible and has been interviewed by the media. In fact it was on a television program that he spoke the words that ended his military career. I printed a list a while back of others who have come out, but that is so very incomplete. If you are looking at just those who have been discharged since the beginning of DADT, we are already speaking of thousands of people. There were so many before. Gay many and women have been kicked out of the US military, despite their fine service, throughout history. At the same time, other countries allow gays to serve.

I personally have known gay service personnel. When I first came to San Francisco, I dated a guy who was in the Army. More recently I have gotten to know a man who served in our military and who now is in a relationship with a man in another country’s military. Although I never served in the armed forces myself, I am personally committed to seeing justice for all. If this was the private sector it would have already been solved. What is taking so long? Why is it so hard to do the right thing?

It’s wonderful to see the men and women who have been discharged standing up and speaking out, not just for themselves, but for everyone. I have heard them speaking about more then just the end of DADT. They are speaking out for marriage equality too which also needs to happen! Keep up the good work everyone! Fight the good fight! The day will come.

Friday, June 19, 2009

DAY 33: DADT Update

Some of you who read this may know me from other places. On facebook I told everyone I would be on vacation, and indeed I am. (I have been for several days, as a matter of fact).

Anyway, the blog continues and I want to repeat something I said the other day. It’s about the shirts. Good idea huh? I love T shirts and these ones send a message: Don’t Hide! Another thing I like about them though is it is a grass roots kind of thing. Lt. Choi’s sister created them. The money goes to help the cause. It’s one of those great win-win kind of situations. Here’s the URL again if you want to go and place an order for one. In fact, if you are going to be part of the March on Washington this fall, order one to wear then and one for all the folks who will be going with you!

I mentioned comments the other day. Please feel free to add your thoughts to any of these posts folks. If you have suggestions or words of encouragement, do share them! They can only help. And do keep the lgbt men and women in our military in your prayers.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

DAY 32: DADT Update

As many of you know, this blog used to change subjects just about every day. I posted mostly about Scriptures and church life, but occasionally got political and often stuck in small glimpses of me and my family and friends. Back in March Lt. Daniel Choi caught my attention and the more I heard the more I wanted to do something. A single post about ending Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell, became a daily crusade.

I have posted news items as they happen. There have been pictures every day, many of them of Lt. Choi. I have made suggestions about how you can help. I’ve even gotten a few comments here. (You can to keep up to date even more with what I write here if you like by registering as a follower and automatically get updates.

The blog may not be much, and I really have no idea how many are reading this, but I have to do something more and hopefully I will reach at least a few people. I have also written to President Obama and to my senators and congresswoman. I also take every opportunity to talk about this to friends. DADT is bad. There is no wiggle room here. It is bad. It needs to end.

And so, I will continue to write about it being ended. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

DAY 31: DADT Update

The Obama administration yesterday announced that there would be an extension of some benefits to the same-sex partners of federal employees, but stopped short of offering full healthcare coverage. (The actual signing of the document is expected to happen tonight, so details are not complete). Did the President forget we are here? Last week, the Obama administration filed a legal brief defending the law forbidding federal recognition of same-sex marriage, even though Obama opposed it during his presidential campaign. (In a statement the day of the filing, administration attorneys said Obama considered the marriage ban discriminatory and wanted it rescinded, but was legally obligated to defend the law as long as it remained in force). As a candidate, Obama was a staunch supporter of gay and lesbian rights. Since taking office, however, he has disappointed many gay activists by defending some of the policies he criticized. He said he could end Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell, but as we have been saying here, he has done nothing yet.The administration in fact intervened with the Supreme Court and opposed efforts to overturn the "Don't Ask/Don't Tell" policy. The justices sided with the president, declining to hear a constitutional challenge. White House officials say they want Congress to repeal the policy outright instead of having to intervene on a case-by-case basis. What is being done though in Congress? Why is it taking so long? Our men and women in service to our country should not have to keep hiding.

Oh and speaking of don’t hide, check out the shirt Lt. Dan Choi is holding up above. His sister is making them and you can get one! They are using proceeds to fund future legal battles! Go to www.donthidetm.com to place an order. You were looking for ways you could help, here is a way to make the fight more visible and also to put a little money back into the cause.

Today, nearly 70% of Americans favor military service by openly gay men and women. Let’s put an end to DADT now!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

DAY 30: DADT Update

Do you know who Stephen Colbert is? Well it was Stephen Colbert vs Stephen Colbert debating the "Don't Ask/Don't Tell" policy during a taping of his television show with active duty troops in Iraq. The newly-shaved-head comedian had the soldiers practically rolling in the aisles. Wearing a specially designed army fatigue dress suit, Colbert referred to being angered by the recent discharge of Lt. Dan Choi (pictured above from a recent protest)before launching into an extended riff on DADT.

Here's is the transcript of the "debate":
Colbert 1: (holding up a muffler he said was meant to be a gun purchase) "There was a little mix-up - my Arabic translater was kicked out under Don't Ask Don't Tell."
Colbert 2: "Another Arabic translator? That makes 59 in the last 5 years!"
Colbert 1: "Hey, that's the way the military career crumbles. I'm not happy about it, but it's not my responsibility, and it's not the military's responsibility. It is Washington's responsibility. This is a political decision."
Colbert 2: "But in the meantime, people like Lt. Col. Victor Ferenbach are being discharged, after serving 18 years in the Air Force, even though he has 9 Air Medals including one for Valor."
Colbert 1: "Yeah, but he got those medals before he was gay. We have no idea how he would fly now."
Colbert 2: "Well the idea that openly gay service members hurts morale makes no sense to me."
Colbert 1: "Ooooh, it makes no sense to YOU. Have you served in the military?"
Colbert 2: "No, but I've been to Camp Victory."
Colbert 1: "Hey, I've been to the circus but I don't tell bears how to ride bikes. The military depends on unit cohesiveness and maintaining focus on the mission."
Colbert 2: "But how would someone being gay affect that?"
Colbert 1: "Imagine one of us is gay, and ... problem solved."
Colbert 2: "What problem?"
Colbert 1: "I don't know, do you have a problem?"
Colbert 2: "What are you asking me?"
Colbert 1: "I'm not asking you anything. Are you telling me something?"
Colbert 2: "No."
Colbert 1: "Good."
Colbert 2: "Good."
Colbert 1: "See how cohesive we are now? All because I don't know that you're gay."
Colbert 2: "I'm not gay!"
Colbert 1: "(putting fingers over ears) Don't tell me!"
Colbert 2: "Fine. But how could it hurt a military mission?"
Colbert 1: "Consider this scenario. We're a team on a secret mission into enemy territory. North Korea."
Colbert 2: "Oooh, commando stuff. Black ops. Rasberry berets."
Colbert 1: "Yes. Under cover of darkness we sneak through a building full of sleeping guards. As we complete the mission, you turn to me and say, 'for the record, I'm gay'".
Colbert 2: "I'M NOT GAY!"
Colbert 2: "NOOOOOO!!!"
Colbert 1: (making machine gun sounds) Get the Americans!"
Colbert 2: "I TAKE IT BACK!"
Colbert 1: "Too late. We're captured and forced to do show tunes for Kim Jong Il."

One more thing: The U.S. Conference of Mayors passed a resolution yesterday calling for full equality of LGBT Americans, including the ability for gays and lesbians to serve openly in the military. Our country's mayors endorsed legislation in Congress (The Military Readiness Enhancement Act) that repeals "Don't Ask/Don't Tell" and replaces it with a policy of nondiscrimination. This is yet another sign the American people, from coast to coast, liberal and conservative, are ready for repeal of this ridiculous policy! Let them know you are happy with their action. Write to your mayor!

Monday, June 15, 2009

DAY 29: DADT Update

Yesterday I asked if anyone read this. Well someone does, but apparently isn't happy that I don't talk about a variety of topics. He commented on my Saturday post "Its a shame this has become a one-issue blog. I rarely read it anymore." He didn't indicate if he was troubled by the issue, just that there was only one issue.

Well folks, ending the "Don't Ask/Don't Tell poilcy is important! It is something we should all be talking about! Yes, there are other things happening, but most of them are getting attention. (And yes, I know that DADT is getting some attention in other places as well, but I want to keep the spotlight). I'm sorry one of my readers rarely reads this anymore, but I hope he doesn't disappear all together!

Anthony Woods is running for Congress! Who, you ask? Well Anthony is not someone you might have heard of, but I would guess that I will be posting about him here for some time. Raised by a single mother, he went on to serve his country in two tours in Iraq, receive an education at Harvard and a Master's degree from the Kennedy School of Government. He was a co-recipient of the Robert F. Kennedy Public Service Award and organized missions to help rebuild hurricane-ravaged New Orleans. He also spent a summer biking across the country to raise money for Habitat for Humanity. Oh yeah and one more thing: He was kicked out of the military because he is gay! Woods wanted to serve his country on a third tour of Iraq, but then the old DADT reared its ugly head. Are you convinced yet that it should be ended?

Stay tuned!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

DAY 28: DADT Update

As you know I write this every day. What I am curious about is, does anyone read it? There are two people listed as followers of this blog and several people have left comments, so I know that folks read it at least on occasion, but still I wonder how much regular attention it gets. I'm also wondering if I make a difference at all. I hope so. I hope this is helping you think - and getting you involved.

We CAN make a difference! We really all need to act together and with love and affection for each other. I bid your prayers and I ask you to help. Write letters and talk to your friends and your co-workers and your families.

Justice for ALL!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

DAY 27: DADT Update

In April of last year, Barack Obama said he's confident he could end the "Don't Ask/Don't Tell" policy for gays in the military, but he won't make it a criteria for serving on the Joint Chiefs of Staff. "I would never make this a litmus test for the Joint Chiefs of Staff," Obama said during an interview with The Advocate. "What I want are members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff who are making decisions based on what strengthens our military and what is going to make us safer, not ideology," he said.

Of DADT he said ending the policy, is something he could "reasonably" get done if elected. (Reasonably?? What does that mean??) "There's increasing recognition within the armed forces that this is a counterproductive strategy - ya know, we're spending large sums of money to kick highly qualified gays or lesbians out of our military, some of whom possess specialties like Arab-language capabilities that we desperately need. That doesn't make us more safe," he said.

Nothing seems to be happening though. Over a year later it's a case of if you are gay, then stay away (from the military).

Friday, June 12, 2009

DAY 26: DADT Update

For almost a month now, we have been dedicating this blog completely to the end of DADT. If this is the first time you are reading this, take a look back at some of our previous entries.

Here are some numbers: Most allied forces working alongside U.S. troops in Afghanistan and Iraq allow individuals to serve openly regardless of sexual orientation. Studies of the militaries of Australia, Israel, Great Britain and Canada have shown open service to have no effect on enrollment or retention. The total number of countries allowing openly gay service is 26. The US and Turkey are the only two original NATO countries that still have bans in place. Today, there are at least 65,000 gay Americans serving on active duty and 1 million gay veterans in the United States, according to the Urban Institute. Under the law, at least one individual per day on average is fired because they are gay or lesbian. (Based on SLDN calculations of Pentagon data, 1993-2007). Almost 13,000 service members have been discharged since 1994.

Any thinking person will easily see that this is a bad policy and that it should be ended. President Obama said he would do just that. He didn't say when though. I guess that's what we need to be asking him - When Mister President? When?

Thursday, June 11, 2009

DAY 25: DADT Update

The Santa Barbara Independent recently spoke with Professor Aaron Belkin, director of UCSB' Palm Center, a think tank devoted to researching sexual minorities and the military. Belkin is featured in ASK NOT, a documentary about the military’s Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell policy, which premieres on PBS on June 16.

Belkin told the paper "I would never encourage anyone to break the law, although coming out of the closet in the military isn’t breaking the law, it’s just announcing that you’re willing to be discharged. On the one hand, we have polling data that shows that many people in the military already know a gay person in their unit and the majority of those people don’t have any problem with it. On the one hand, Dan Choi and Darren Manzella are doing what tens of thousands of gays and lesbians are already doing, and straight people are more than professional enough to handle that. On the other hand, it does personify the issue in quite a striking way when an Arabic linguist with Iraq combat experience like Dan Choi says, 'I want to serve. I don’t want to be fired, but I shouldn’t have to live a lie, and it hurts the mission when the government makes me live a lie.'"

The paper's preview of the film is HERE. You can view clips from it HERE.

Stay tuned folks! More and more people are getting involved and speaking out! Hang in there!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

DAY 24: DADT Update

A bit of a clarification on what the Supreme Court did concerning DADT - they had been asked to review a lower court's ruling that threw out a challenge to the military's "Don't Ask/Don't Tell" policy on gay service members. They refused to. That's not really that surprising. The court only accepts just about one percent of the cases presented to it. The Obama administration didn't want it to and even some of the challengers didn't want it to. Looking at the Court as if it did some horrible thing or some truly surprising thing is wrong. I'm disappointed because I think DADT is wrong and needs to be ended, but I am not at all surprised. I think most people really expected this. A denial of review by the Supreme Court on this kind of petition is not a ruling on the merits of the case. Nothing has been changed at all.

And so our watch continues. Stay tuned. Hopefully there will actually be some good news soon!

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

DAY 23: DADT Update

The US Supreme Court denied a request yesterday to review whether or not 'Don't Ask/Don't Tell' is unconstitutional, agreeing with President Obama not to intervene in DADT cases. Since its inception, DADT has led to the discharge of nearly 13,000 gay and lesbian soldiers, many of them mission-critical. DADT has recently been a contentious topic of debate and we have been discussing it here for the past three weeks.

President Obama vowed a full repeal during his campaign, but since taking office has backtracked and said he will seek only a partial repeal that strengthens the military. There is growing anger and impatience with the president over what many view as his broken promises to the LGBT community.

Army Captain James Pietrangelo, who was discharged under DADT in 2004, filed the federal lawsuit against the Pentagon and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, and asked the high court to rule on the constitutionality of DADT. He served six years on the Army, seven years in the National Guard, and fought in the Gulf War in Iraq in 1991. The person we have most mentioned here concerning DADT is Lt. Dan Choi.

Choi was interviewed by CNN's Anderson Cooper and said he felt "extremely disappointed." Choi said soldiers are taught to follow a leader not because of their rank or position, but "because of their courage, because they want to stand up to their responsibilities." Choi said President Obama and all our leaders need to show courage, especially since the country is at war.

"The number one priority is protecting our troops," Choi said. "Don't Ask/Don't Tell doesn't hurt the gay soldiers as much as it hurts the straight soldiers - every unit that is ripped apart because of a soldier being fired for being honest is punished. We need to wake up and realize that the destinies of gay and straight Americans are tied at the hip."

When Cooper pointed out the purpose of DADT was to protect unit cohesion, Choi said, "I think unit cohesion is based on trust and honesty. What [DADT] does is penalize soldiers for doing what they are trained to do - living honesly, having courage, standing up, and not hiding from your responsbilities."

Choi concluded that he was still gay and still a soldier, and all the arguments saying DADT promotes unit cohesion and morality are completely false. "When a soldier is honest, when they are able to have the confidence within their unit to talk about who they really are, the unit gets stronger. The same thing applies to an organization, a church, or a family. When we have a foundation of honesty, it makes the unit stronger."

Monday, June 08, 2009

DAY 22: DADT Update

Dan Choi is the face (to the right) that I keep showing here. He seems to have become the public face of ending DADT. He is not the only gay soldier to have served in the military though.

The Wall Street Journal, of all places, recently had an piece by a highly decorated former Army Ranger calling for the repeal of DADT. He points to his own experiences:

I was a line infantryman in the Army's Ranger regiment from 2000-04, earning a promotion to sergeant within three years. In that time, my platoon performed dozens of combat missions on the front lines. Our lives depended on complete mutual trust.

Several of my colleagues knew I was gay. We lived in the closest possible conditions. When there were showers, we showered together. When we were out overnight on the cold, bare mountains of Afghanistan, we slept huddled together for warmth. It should go without saying that there was nothing remotely sexual about these situations. We had uncomfortable experiences -- we were at war, after all -- but my buddies were never uncomfortable with me.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

DAY 21: DADT Update

Dan Choi's message is so appropriate as we begin this new week - don't hide. DADT says we must hide. The policy says those in the military cannot be honest - cannot be who they really are. It says they must hide.
We say NO! Don't hide! Don't Ask/Don't Tell MUST end! Do you agree? Do you believe in justice and fairness for all? Then help spread the word!
A Gallup survey out yesterday finds that 58% of conservatives now favor “allowing openly gay men and lesbian women to serve in the military.” In November 2004, that figure was just 46%. Times are changing!

Saturday, June 06, 2009

DAY 20: DADT Update

Second Lieutenant Sandy Tsao (pictured here to the left) is another of those kicked out of the US military because of Don't Ask/Don't Tell. She is the woman the President sent a personal note to. I'm still wondering if the President sent a note to any members of Congress asking them to repeal DADT. What do you think?

Only two people are subscribed to this blog and if they are the only ones reading it, I don't want to be boring and repeat the same thing over and over. I you also read these words, let me know by leaving a comment.

How else can we help in getting an end to DADT? Well I'd love to hear your thoughts!

Friday, June 05, 2009

DAY 19: DADT Update

We have been writing a lot about Lt. Dan Choi here in this space every day. Our purpose is really not to tell you about him, but about ending Don't Ask/Don't Tell. Dan however cannot be ignored. If it was not for him, I might not have been awakened to the fact that this policy is still in place, despite Obama's promise to do away with it. I have to also say that Dan has been a tireless spokesperson both for an end to DADT and also for same-sex marriage and justice for all. This is one incredible guy.

Years ago Harvey Milk spoke of the importance of coming out - the importance of visibility. Dan Choi is proof that Milk was right!

On March 3rd, California Representative, Ellen Tauscher introduced HR1283, "The Military Readiness Enhancement Act of 2009." The bill seeks to repeal current Department of Defense (DOD) policy concerning homosexuality in the Armed Forces. Within days the bill had gained oner 140 co-sponsors, including all 6 of California's Democrats serving in the House. The bill has been referred to the Subcommittee on Military Personnel - a subcommittee of the House Armed Services Committee.

What does YOUR representative think about this? What does YOUR senator think? Have you contacted them yet? Have you written to the President? Speak up! Together we can make a difference!

Thursday, June 04, 2009

DAY 18: DADT Update

Last month in TIME magazine, Marine General Peter Pace, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, is quoted from an interview he did with the Chicago Tribune, telling the paper that "I believe homosexual acts between two individuals are immoral and that we should not condone immoral acts." Well then, that’s that!

No, I’m sorry – it isn’t! There is more to say now for sure. First, when did General Pace become the morality police?
In that same issue of TIME there is this: "General Pace1s comments are outrageous, insensitive and disrespectful to the 65,000 lesbian and gay troops now serving in our armed forces," says C. Dixon Osburn, who heads the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, a gay advocacy group in Washington (the 65,000 estimate is a UCLA study's estimate, the group said). "Our men and women in uniform make tremendous sacrifices for our country, and deserve General Pace's praise, not his condemnation.”

Check out the entire article. I really cannot do it justice here, and that isn’t even my intention. There is tons of information just about every day now. This is a good thing. More and more men and women are coming out and they need information. They need support. Most of all, they need to know that they are not alone.

This is where you come in once again. Help spread the word. Talk to people. Folks this kind of communicating will not only help end DADT, but it will also help make same-sex marriage a reality from coast to coast!

Congress and the President need to hurry up and take action to repeal Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell, so that gay and lesbian Americans who want to serve their country can get out of the unemployment line and back out on the front lines.

Here (below, from the knightsout.org website) is a list of out West Point Alumni who identify as LGBTQ. As members of the Long Gray Line from West Point, they are a living example of the cadet prayer: "...not to be content with a half truth, when the whole can be won."

Name, West Point Class, Highest Rank Held, Branch of Service
Dandridge Hering 1947 LTC AR
Nicholas Carlson 1958 H-3 MAJ Air Force
Robert Finkenaur 1958 LTC
Stewart Bornhoft 1969 COL EN
Lucian K. Truscott, IV 1969 2LT MP
Howard Voland 1972 CPT FA/QC
Robert Machado 1973 CPT IN
Greer Puckett 1974 CDT N/A
Edmundo Colchado 1976 CPT FA
John Holbert 1977 MAJ IN
Mike Shannan 1977 A-3 CPT IN
George Cuesta 1978 CPT MP
Earle Kirkland 1978 CPT FA
Carol Barkalow 1980 LTC TC
Brenda Sue Fulton 1980 CPT SC
Andrea Hollen 1980 MAJ SC
Regina Todd 1980 LTC EN
Magdaline Caradimitropoulo 1981 CPT EN
Thomas Wuchte 1982 LTC EN
Susann Miguel 1984 CPT OD
Marjorie Rudinsky 1984 MAJ BMO
Tracey Stewart 1984 CDT
Charles Cushman 1986 CPT AR
Lissa Young 1986 LTC AV
Kenneth (Mark) Landes 1987 1LT AR
Clayce Rodamer 1987 2LT ADA
Jeffrey Voigt 1987 LTC IN/AC
Rhonda Cook 1988 CPT MI
Laura Slattery 1988 1LT MC
Roxanne Fox 1989 MAJ OD/CA
Teresa Haering 1989 1LT TC
Sandi Hassett 1989 CPT AV
Ed Urbaniak 1989 CPT AR
Darryl DeMag 1991 CDT
Becky Kanis 1991 CPT SC
Beach Pace 1991 CPT OD
Todd Feemster 1992 2LT AG
Jeffery Freitas 1992 CDT
Deneil LoGiudice 1992 CDT N/A
Scott Melendez 1992 CDT N/A
Brad Sherrill 1993 CPT QM
Jincy Pace 1994 1LT MP
Allyson Robinson 1994 CPT AD
Steven Thornton 1994 CPT AD
Bridget Altenburg 1995 CPT EN
Richard Dickson 1996 CPT OD
Jenn Oliva 1996 CPT MP
Megan Scanlon 1997 CPT TC
Beneka Bali 2000 G3/H3 CPT EN
Gordon-Michael Cox 2000 CPT SC
Patrick Cunanan 2000 2LT
Melissa Lawton 2000 2LT TC
Star Hy 2001 CPT MP/AG
Greg Ogborn 2001 CPT OD
David Moore 2002 CPT EN
Ian Shipps 2002 CPT MSC
Booker Young 2002 1LT AD
Daniel Choi 2003 1LT IN
Sarah Haag 2003 2LT SC
Jeff Oster 2003 CPT
Anthony Woods 2003 CPT AR
Dan Manning 2004 1LT FA
William Johnson 2005 CDT Cook
Harry Leak 2005 CDT N/A
Joseph Simenic 2005 2LT IN
Nicholas Brown 2006 CDT

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

DAY 17: DADT Update

Peter Warren Singer is Senior Fellow and Director of the 21st Century Defense Initiative at the Brookings Institution. He writes regularly for the Washington Examiner and yesterday he wrote “” The damning paradox of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’” – it’s a really good piece which you can read by clicking HERE.

One of the things Singer says is “When running for president, Barack Obama made a commitment to end “don’t ask, don’t tell”; but by one report, 218 service members have been discharged under the policy since he and the new Congress took office. It is now well past time to put national security over social politics, and to allow patriotic and capable Americans like Lt. Dan Choi to continue to serve their nation.”

Also yesterday, MSNBC host David Shuster criticized the President, calling him hypocritical for leaving the "Don't Ask/Don't Tell" policy in place, despite a campaign pledge to end the ban. Shuster singled out Obama in his "Hypocrisy Watch" series, complaining, "But, here we are, more than four months into your administration and the 'Don't Ask/Don't Tell' policy remains in place." Referencing Dan Choi, whom we have been speaking of just about every day here, he said, "To continue to kick out soldiers like Daniel Choi, to continue 'Don't Ask/Don't Tell' four months into your presidency, that's hypocrisy and it's wrong."

Well my friends, what do YOU think? I keep hoping to hear some of your comments. Write to me! Write to President Obama too and write to your representatives and senators!

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

DAY 16: DADT Update

Don't Ask/Don't Tell is a policy that 75% of Americans favor repealing, yet it still hasn't been! Why?
While many have come out and many have even spoken out, we have posted largely here about Lt. Daniel Choi. Here is some of what he had to say in a speech last week:
We can't wait for somebody else to give us rights. We have to stand up. If we want our rights. We gotta fight for them… Let me tell you a little bit about Don't Ask Don't Tell. It is a deadly poison. It is the most toxic. That's military talk. Civilians try to call it the closet but it's toxic poison. Do not force that toxic poison. Do not inject that toxic poison in them anymore. Let them out of the closet!

It's not about my career. It's not about my pay grade. It's not about money. It's not about elections. It's about telling them [gay service members], you are not alone. So I gave a message to President Obama. Repeal Don't Ask Don't Tell. Stop forcing them to lie. Stop forcing our soldiers to lie. Stop forcing our soldiers to hide. Stop forcing our soldiers to be injected with the closet. And let them be free to serve!

Monday, June 01, 2009

DAY 15: DADT Update

When the President of the United States writes a personal handwritten note to someone, it would seem to be a hopeful sign. The note pictured here though has been the only move we have seen so far from the President. I can only hope that with the start of a new month today, we will also see the start of action by The White House!

Former President William Jefferson Clinton weighed into the debate on Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell this past week making him the highest ranking person in the country to speak out on this subject. It was under Clinton’s leadership that the policy known as DADT was implemented. He did so, he says, as an attempt to repeal the old policy concerning homosexuality in the military. Prior to DADT, even the suspicion of someone being homosexual was enough to earn them a dishonorable discharge, and prior to that policy being implemented in 1943, anyone caught engaging in homosexual behavior earned a dishonorable discharge. That policy dated to the founding of the Continental Army.

I should also point out that Bill Clinton was also the one who signed the Defense of Marriage Act. DOMA prevents each state from recognizing any marriage equality laws passed by other states as well as preventing the Federal government from recognizing these marriages.

Clinton now thinks it is time to end DADT. He stated that his views on the subject are evolving as he gets to know many dedicated same-sex couples who hare raising children of their own.
This is one reason why I keep urging folks to be visible. Come out! Be honest. When people get to know us, they realize we are human. We deserve to be treated fairly. Also, talk to people. Share your views. Listen to others and respond. Communications is very important in changing people’s minds! Keep on communicating!