It’s not all roses…

It hasn’t been all roses and happiness for LGB service members since the repeal of DADT.

As a lot of us suspected, it hasn’t been all roses and happiness for LGB service members since the repeal of DADT. There’s a terrifying article over at LGBTweekly that tells the story of “Steve Jones”, a Marine who was apparently outed to his entire unit and now lives in fear that his unit will abandon him in combat (so much for Semper fidelis and “no man left behind“).

One day following the repeal of DADT, Marine Jones was called in to what he was assured was a closed-door, private meeting only to learn it had been called to find out why he had put his boyfriend’s name down on the next of kin form instead of his parents. The next day his entire unit knew he was gay, his boyfriend’s name and that the boyfriend had been named as the recipient of any money due him by the military.
What followed was a time of barely disguised death threats – talk of throat-cutting in Afghanistan loud enough for him to hear as he walked past – and unsubtle intimidation with talk of him not to expect any help if anything happened in Afghanistan.

It sounds like LGB Marines have a long and dangerous road ahead of them, General Amos’ promise to “step forward smartly” on repeal notwithstanding. I only hope that the same organizations that championed the repeal will stand by these soldiers as they live with the results – and that they’ll let me know how to help.

“Stories from the Frontlines: Letters to President Barack Obama”

I’ve changed my mind about posting stories from SLDN’s Frontlines Blog after reading this heartbreaking account of a gay Marine whose life has been torn to pieces by DADT.

I posted about the Service Members Legal Defense Fund’s Frontlines Blog a few days ago. I didn’t intend to post the actual stories from the blog because I was so far behind. I’ve changed my mind after reading this heartbreaking account of a gay Marine whose life has been torn to pieces by DADT.

May 21, 2010

President Barack H. Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue Northwest
Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President,

On November 4, 2008, I spent the evening at the Democratic Headquarters of a small town.  I watched anxiously as election results poured in from across the nation, nervous and hopeful that enough Americans had believed in the change you promised to bring.

Then it happened.  The broadcaster announced that the network was declaring you the winner; the tears welled up in my eyes.  Cheers erupted and I turned to hug the person standing closest to me, as we all did.

Balloons and confetti flew, and photographers began snapping pictures.  One aimed his camera at me and I turned away.  After another attempt, he asked if he could take my picture. I said no.  I couldn’t risk having my photo appear in a newspaper because I am a Marine, and the person in my arms was my boyfriend.
Continue reading ““Stories from the Frontlines: Letters to President Barack Obama””

Stories from the Frontlines

You should go read these stories. They are powerful testimony to why the LGBT community is so insistent on repealing DADT now.

I wish I’d started posting these letters at the start of this event. It’s a little late to catch up now, so I’m just going to post a link to the main SLDN: Frontlines Blog. You should go read these stories. They are powerful testimony to why the LGBT community is so insistent on repealing DADT now.

SLDN Frontlines Blog.
 
"Stories from the Frontlines: Letters to President Barack Obama" is a new media campaign launched to underscore the urgent need for congressional action and presidential leadership at this critical point in the fight to repeal "Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell" (DADT). Every weekday morning as we approach the markup of the Defense Authorization bill in the Senate and House Armed Services Committees, SLDN and a coalition of voices supporting repeal, will share an open letter to the President from a person impacted by this discriminatory law. We are urging the President to include repeal in the Administration’s defense budget recommendations, but also to voice his support as we work to muster the 15 critical votes needed on the Senate Armed Services Committee to include repeal. The Defense Authorization bill represents the best legislative vehicle to bring repeal to the president’s desk. It also was the same vehicle used to pass DADT in 1993. By working together, we can help build momentum to get the votes! We ask that you forward and post these personal stories.

RELATED: Just saw this over on Towleroad. California GOP Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher proves beyond a doubt that you don’t have to be a close-minded idiot if you’re a Republican. It’s a beautiful, impassioned speech in support of the repeal of DADT.

The pain of DADT in 137 words.

It’s about respect.

“Try never mentioning your spouse, your family, your home, your girlfriend or boyfriend to anyone you know or work with – just for one day. Take that photo off your desk at work, change the pronoun you use for your spouse to the opposite gender, guard everything you might say or do so that no one could know you’re straight, shut the door in your office if you have a personal conversation if it might come up. Try it. Now imagine doing it for a lifetime. It’s crippling; it warps your mind; it destroys your self-esteem. These men and women are voluntarily risking their lives to defend us. And we are demanding they live lives like this in order to do so. Yes, Admiral Mullen. It is about integrity. It’s also about a minimum of human respect.”

Andrew Sullivan, responding to the National Review’s Rich Lowry.

Reprinted after reading J.M.G.

John McCain flips, flops and flaps.

With all due respect to Senator McCain, it is impossible to “honor the service and sacrifices” of LGBT servicemen and women, and in the same breath ask them to lie to their comrades, their commanders, their families and friends.

Here’s what McCain said about Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell in 2006:

And I understand the opposition to it, and I‘ve had these debates and discussions, but the day that the leadership of the military comes to me and says, Senator, we ought to change the policy, then I think we ought to consider seriously changing it because those leaders in the military are the ones we give the responsibility to.

Ok, that’s fairly straightforward: if the military says re-evaluate, then reevaluate. Given that, here’s what the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Admiral Mullen said today:

Mr. Chairman, speaking for myself and myself only, it is my personal and professional belief that allowing homosexuals to serve openly would be the right thing to do. No matter how I look at the issue, I cannot escape being troubled by the fact that we have in place a policy which forces young men and women to lie about who they are in order to defend their fellow citizens. For me, it comes down to integrity — theirs as individuals and ours as an institution. I also believe the great young men and women of our military can and would accommodate such a change. I never underestimate their ability to adapt. That there will be some disruption in the force I cannot deny. That there will be legal, social and perhaps even infrastructure changes to be made certainly seem plausible. We would all like to have a better handle on these types of concerns. And that is what our review will offer.

Admiral Mullen reaffirmed his position via Twitter (seriously?!) with this tweet:

thejointstaff: Stand by what I said: Allowing homosexuals to serve openly is the right thing to do. Comes down to integrity.

Well, John McCain has apparently forgotten that he trusts the U.S. Military, because he’s waving around letters from anti-gay hack Elaine Donnelly, and raving about the “success” of DADT. Never mind the hundreds of millions of dollars it costs, and the drastic loss of talent the military suffers as a result each year:

But in all due respect, right now the military is functioning extremely well in very difficult conditions. We have to have an assessment on recruitment, on retention and all the other aspects of the impact on our military if we change the policy. In my view, and I know that a lot of people don’t agree with that, the policy has been working and I think it’s been working well.

Actually, this flip-flop wasn’t the most disturbing part of McCain’s speech. This little gem had me trying to shake the water out of my ears:

Many gay and lesbian Americans are serving admirably in our armed forces, even giving their lives so that we and others can know the blessings of peace. I honor their sacrifice and I honor them.

With all due respect to Senator McCain, it is impossible to “honor the service and sacrifices” of LGBT servicemen and women, and in the same breath ask them to lie to their comrades, their commanders, their families and friends. That is not honorable, it’s disingenuous at best.

As I see it, there are two possible explanations for McCain’s flip-flop:

A) He said what he said in 2006 just to make himself look moderate and reasonable, and meant nary a word of it.
B) He’s bowing to the intense pressure of the Republican Right instead of honoring his own beliefs.

So which is it? Is McCain a liar… or a coward?

If you’d like to watch the rest of the political bloviating, click through for YouTube clips of the hearing.

Continue reading “John McCain flips, flops and flaps.”