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Posts Tagged ‘Don’t ask don’t tell’

The topic this Wednesday 12-22-2010 is the Holidays. How are you handling them? Are you stressed? What are your plans?

In the second half, we will discuss the repeal of Don’t ask, Don’ tell and what it means to you.

15 Minutes prior to the meeting, at 6:45, we’re meeting at the POZ-Attitudes Christmas Tree in the main room for a group picture and to put the final ornaments on the tree. If you have a special decoration you want to add bring it. Picture is optional, as is ornament.

Come join us. Come early if you want to participate in the final decoration of our Christmas Tree.

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December 19, 2010

Yesterday the Senate joined the House in voting to repeal Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. It will now go to the President’s desk to be signed. This law will be regulated to the dust heap of history. Gays will now be allowed to serve in the military openly. I rejoiced and toasted the repeal, but my mind turned to a different age, a different time and a different cause.

I turned 18 in the middle of the Vietnam War. It was a period of time when men were being drafted to serve in a war that many of us felt was unjust. It was a scary period of time. Boys were coming home dismembered or in a coffin, and for no good reason. Boys like me. Or if we were lucky, we just killed some of the “enemy” and then came home. The though of hunting and killing animals nauseates me, let alone hunting and killing people. The thought of that at 18, terrified me. It terrifies me now, but I had an out. I was homosexual. If I was drafted, my plan was to come out, loud and clear. My boyfriend at the time, was drafted and got out of service that way. He told the soldier at the draft board he was gay, the day he was being shipped to boot camp. It was his last resort. And he verified his homosexuality by offering the guy a blow job. You had to prove you were gay then. It was a different world.

My how the world twists and changes. Today, we’re involved in a war that many feel are unjust, but there’s no draft. People serve because they want to. Or maybe because they have no other job opportunities. But there is no sense of avoiding service like there was when I was military age. So now people are fighting to serve rather than to avoid service. We could say that’s generational, but I suspect it has a lot more to do with not having a military draft.

As I listen to my friends cheer the repeal of DADT, my feelings were ‘So what? How does this affect me?” I’m happy for those gay men and women in the military who are affected, but my emotions are mixed. I remember the agony of the Vietnam conflict, coffins and the emotions of that long ago time.

But this repeal does affect me. It affects all gay men and women. The military is an institution that is a pillar of our society. Both political parties worship the men and women who give service to our country. When our people (gays) are allowed into that institution openly, it sends a message out to EVERYONE that being gay IS acceptable, whether they personally like it or not.

And that’s good public relations for gays . It brings the gay agenda of equality into the living rooms of all Americans, not just the ones who are already on our side and convinced that equality under the law is the right thing to do. This brings the issue into the homes of people who vehemently oppose us. And make no mistake, they will be talking about us. But the tide of history is on our side, just as it is for women, blacks and other minorities. Freedom is for everyone. Marriage equality will follow this much sooner and all gays will all benefit from having achieved these milestones, whether you want to join the military or get married. Being gay will be more acceptable. Coming out of the closet will be much easier so that someday there the closet might be old fashioned concept.

We need to give credit where credit is due. We want to thank the 6 Republican Senators who bucked their party and voted with us. But we must remember, this victory occurred because Democrats controlled the House, Senate and Presidency. It would never have happened under a Republican controlled House, Senate or Presidency. It could not happen next year when Republicans take control of the House. It would not have happened three years ago under a Republican President, who would not have signed this bill. Sadly, one party supports our equal rights and one party views us as outcasts, second class citizens at best, unworthy of the equal treatment that was the founding principle of this country. You ask why I support the Democratic party. This is your answer. I support those who support me, support us.

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‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ Repeal Passes Senate, But Change Will Take Time
After months of fits and starts, a bill repealing “don’t ask, don’t tell,” the ban against gays serving openly in the military, passed the Senate 65 to 31 on Saturday.

Eight Republicans — Sens. Scott Brown of Massachusetts, Susan Collins and Olympia J. Snowe of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Mark Kirk of Illinois, John Ensign of Nevada, Richard Burr of North Carolina, and George Voinovich of Ohio — joined 57 members of the Democratic caucus in support of the historic measure. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) did not vote Saturday, but released a statement saying he could not support repeal “at this time.”

Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), the lead Senate sponsor of the bill, framed the issue as a civil rights imperative, calling the ban on gays in the military “inconsistent with basic American values.”

“To force the ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy on the military is to force them to be less than they want to be — and less than they can be,” Lieberman said Saturday. “These people simply want to serve their country.” Under the Clinton-era policy, armed services members are expected to keep their sexual orientation private, with the promise that recruiters and officers will not delve into their personal lives.

President Obama applauded the Senate and said “thousands of patriotic Americans” would no longer have to “live a lie” to serve in the military.

During the debate Saturday, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said he was alarmed by the number of Arabic and Farsi linguists who had been discharged under the policy at a time the military needs them most, noting that nearly 10,000 of the 14,000 men and women forced out since 1993 were language specialists.

“I don’t care who you love. If you love this country enough to risk your life for it, you should be able to serve as you are,” Wyden said. “Today the Senate has the opportunity to be on the right side of history. ‘Don’t ask, don’t tell’ is a wrong that should never have been perpetrated.”
Related Stories
End of Military Gay Ban Is Pivotal Moment in History
Eight Republicans Vote to Repeal
Gays in the Military: Still Illegal For Time Being

At a congressional hearing earlier this month, Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Joint Chiefs Chairman Mike Mullen testified that lifting the DADT policy would likely have only a limited impact on the services. They said they preferred congressional action — which would give the military some time to implement the change — to a judicial decision, which would alter the policy immediately.

Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.), chairman of the Senate Armed Service Committee, cited that testimony, as well as the results of a Pentagon study on implementing the change, as the reasons he believed ending the policy that bans gays from serving openly is the right thing to do.

“The final report of a working group concluded that changing the policy would present a low risk to the military’s effectiveness, even during a time of war, and that 70 percent believe it would be positive, mixed or no effect,” Levin said. “The troops told us that what matters is doing the job.”

But several Republicans on the Armed Services panel disagreed with Levin and stood up Saturday to vocally oppose changing the policy.

Sen. John McCain, a former Navy flier and POW during the Vietnam war, had filibustered the repeal bill throughout the year. Yet he said he was resigned to the fact that it would pass an earlier test vote Saturday.

But McCain (R-Ariz.) said he remained convinced that repealing the ban would cost American lives.

“I understand the other side’s argument about their social political agenda, but to somehow argue that [‘don’t ask, don’t tell’] has harmed our military is not consistent with the facts,” he said.

Although McCain said he was confident that the military will comply with a change in the law, he warned that troops will be put at greater risk as a result. “They will do what is asked of them, but don’t think it won’t be at great cost,” he said.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), a JAG officer in the Air Force Reserves, excoriated the bill’s proponents for pushing forward with the change when the military is fighting wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“You care more about politics…than you care about governing this country,” Graham said.

Now that the bill has passed the House and Senate, it goes to Obama to be signed into law some time next week.

But a change in the law will not automatically change the policy. Rather, the bill stipulates that the policy will only be discarded after the president, the Secretary of Defense, and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff certify that changing it will not hurt the armed services’ readiness, morale or cohesion. After a 60-day review by Congress, the Pentagon is to develop procedures for ending it altogether, a process that could take months or years to complete.

Sen. Levin said he would be watching the military carefully as the certification and implementation process moves forward. But he could not yet say how long would be too long.

“I just think we’ll know it when we see it,” Levin told Politics Daily. “But right now we’ve got to just be optimistic and be confident, particularly with these leaders.” Levin credited Mullen’s early support of repeal for giving the legislative process momentum when it needed it most.

“I don’t have any doubt that he is going to be pushing this quickly and at the appropriate speed and in the appropriate way,” Levin said. “This is a totally doable deal.”

Sen. Collins told Politics Daily that she expects it to take months, not years, but said that the military needs time to create and hold training sessions for servicemembers and to work through any issues associated with the implementation.

But Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), an early advocate for repeal this year, said Congressional passage of the bill makes one immediate change in military policy.

“No one will be dismissed under this policy ever again,” she said.

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So What’s Next

The Republicans blocked a vote on Don’t Ask Don’t Tell in the Senate (the House has already repealed DADT) because Democrats failed to extend the Bush tax cuts to the rich. With the Republicans taking control of the House next year maybe if we eliminate taxes on the rich the Republicans will grant equality, as in we hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal.

But as much as we want to blame Republicans, Democrats need to show some leadership, especially Obama. DADT was ruled unconstitutional in federal court. Stop fighting it. Isuue an executive order. You are Commander-in-Chief. Act like it.

A large majority of Americans want this repealed and 70% of service men have said they already have served with gay men and women.

Stop playing games. Just do it.

-Steve

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We discussed the Don’t ask Don’t Tell policy and vote at the Wednesday Night Support Group. Current issues that affect Gay people are topical concerns for our group.

The Senate on Tuesday September 21, 2010 dealt a significant blow to efforts to repeal the ban on gay people serving openly in the military.

In a 56-43 vote, Senate Democratic leaders fell short of the 60 votes need to proceed to the 2011 defense authorization bill, which included language to repeal “Don’t ask, don’t tell”.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada, and Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark) and Mark Pryor of Arkansas were the 3 Democrats that voted to block debate. Reid’s vote allows him to bring up the bill at a later time.

It’s possible Congrees could revisit the issue in a lame-duck session, that period of time after the November elections and before the new congress takes office in January when things are not as emotionally charged. But there is no guarantee this will happen.

More than 75% of Americans believe gays should be allowed to serve openly in the military according to the most recent ABC News/Washington Post poll.

We have a couple questions:

!. Why are the Democrats so inept at getting things passed. We have a solid majority in the House of Representatives, 1 vote shy of a filibuster proof Senate, 59 of 100 Senators and a Democratic President and yet we struggle to get the agenda passed that was promised to the people who voted these people in. Needless to say I am disappointed in this lack of leadership.

2. 13,386 gay men and women have been discharged under DADT since 1993. But the full name of the policy is “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, Don’t Pursue.” “Don’t Ask” mandates that military or appointed officials will not ask about or require members to reveal their sexual orientation. “Don’t Tell” states that a member may be discharged for claiming to be a homosexual or bisexual or making a statement indicating a tendency towards or intent to engage in homosexual activities. “Don’t Pursue” establishes what is minimally required for an investigation to be initiated. “Don’t Harass” was added to the policy later. It ensures that the military will not allow harassment or violence against servicemembers for any reason.

Every one of these 13,386 people were discharged under the “Don’t Tell” portion of this policy. Not one person has been discharged over the “Don’t Ask” portion. Why not enforce BOTH sides of this policy?

I realize that this still would not allow gays to serve OPENLY in the military, but it would allow gays to serve in the military without being harrassed. Don’t ask Don’t tell was a compromise at the time, but it was never evenly enforced.

Enforcing both sides of that compromise would move more people to the conclusion that this was a bad policy and needs to be repealed.

-Steve

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