National news notes

Here are just a few items from around the U.S.:

Sinema

U.S. Rep. Kyrsten Sinema

Organization calls for release of trans woman raped in ICE custody

PHOENIX, Az. — Trans and queer undocumented immigrants from the Arcoiris Liberation Team and the Arizona Queer Undocumented Immigrant Project are demanding that Arizona Congresswoman Kyrsten Sinema and the LGBT Equality Caucus to join in calls for the release of a trans woman who was raped more than a month ago while in the custody of the U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement agency.

Marichuy Leal Gamino, whose legal name is Jesus Leal Gamino, 23, has been housed with male inmates for more than a year in the Eloy Detention Center in Eloy, Az. She was allegedly raped by her cellmate in late July. According to the Transgender Law Center, she experienced weeks of “bullying, lewd comments, and threats of rape” from her cellmate, all of which she reported to detention officers, who told her to “deal with it.” After she was raped, she was not only pressured to admit that she consented to it, but she “has still been offered no real recourse or assurance that her safety will be protected,” TLC reports.

Activists with the Arcoiris Liberation Team, AZQUIP, the National Day Laborer Organizing Network and Familia: Trans Queer Liberation Movement say that after being raped, Leal Gamino was put in solitary confinement and denied basic hygiene, and that she has gotten death threats from the man accused of raping her.

Although born a Mexican citizen, Leal Gamino grew up in Arizona and has spent most of her life there.

 

Lambda Legal HIV Project director appointed to Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS

Scott Schoettes, director of Lambda Legal’s HIV Project, has been appointed to serve on the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS. The 25-member council provides advice, information and recommendations to the secretary of Health and Human Services regarding programs and policies to promote effective prevention of HIV disease and to advance research on HIV disease and AIDS.

Schoettes was sworn in for a three-year term on Thursday, Sept. 4.

“I am honored to have been selected to serve in this capacity, and I look forward to working with other members of the council to promote sound federal policies with respect to HIV,” Schoettes said.

 

Lambda Legal files emergency papers seeking accurate death certificate for gay man’s husband

Attorneys with Lambda Legal on Wednesday, Sept. 3, filed emergency papers asking a U.S. District Court in Arizona to order the state to provide an accurate death certificate to Fred McQuire for his husband, George Martinez, who died Aug. 28.

Without an accurate death certificate naming McQuire as Martinez’s surviving husband, McQuire could face difficulties in handling his late husband’s affairs and in filing for the benefits generally available to a surviving spouse, Lambda Legal attorneys said.

McQuire, 69, and Martinez, 62, lived in Green Valley, and both were U.S. military veterans. Martinez served in the U.S. Air Force in Vietnam, and McQuire served in both the Air Force and the Army, and was stationed in Guam. After leaving the military, Martinez joined the staff of Arizona’s Court of Appeals in Tucson, becoming the court’s first deputy clerk, holding that office for 30 years.

The two men first met in 1969 and were a couple for 45 years. In recent years, both men battled life-threatening illnesses. McQuire has pulmonary disease and Parkinson’s. Martinez was diagnosed three years ago with prostate cancer, a result of having been exposed to Agent Orange while he was in Vietnam. Although the prostate cancer was in remission, in June he was diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer.

—  Tammye Nash

Male instructor accused of sexually abusing 2 male recruits at Lackland

The list of victims in a yearlong sex-abuse scandal at Lackland Air Force base in San Antonio now includes three men.

The San Antonio Express-News reports that a male instructor at Lackland is accused of abusive sexual contact with two men in boot camp, while a female instructor is accused of having consensual sex with a male student. Abusive sexual contact involves incidents in which the perpetrator is accused of touching parts of a person’s body for sexual gratification. The male instructor faces up to 14 years in prison.

Until now, all 56 victims in the Lackland scandal had been women. The latest report brings the total number of victims to 59 and the number of instructors under investigation to 32, with six already found guilty of misconduct. Lackland is home to all Air Force basic training, and the scandal has drawn national attention to the issue of military sexual assault. Congress will hold a hearing on the scandal next week.

“We’re not at all surprised that the investigation has turned up male victims. Sexual assault in the military affects men as well as women,” said Greg Jacob, policy director for Service Women‘s Action Network, told the Express-News. “The VA reports that 40 percent of all veterans seeking care for sexual trauma are men. Because of the hostile climate in the military, sexual assaults are underreported to begin with, and among men under reporting is even more widespread than it is for women.”

Read the full story here.

—  John Wright

A call for ad rates made us realize we had been the victim of discrimination

The Dallas Voice classified department received a call today from an agency asking for rates. That’s not unusual. But the client was an unexpected one — the U.S. Army.

The “don’t ask, don’t tell” repeal law says that gays and lesbians can serve. What it doesn’t assure is any equality. There is no mandate to seek out gay and lesbian recruits. No general handed down orders to make sure there are plenty of LGB troops.

What the call indicates is that recruiters are ahead of the vocal opponents of repeal. Now that they can recruits gays and lesbians — why not?

What the call also pointed out was another unintended consequence of DADT. The law hurt LGBT businesses. While the Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, Coast Guard and National Guard were spending money advertising in every other media outlet, gay media received none of that income.

Not only was the federal government discriminating against gay and lesbian soldiers, but by not advertising in LGBT publications, they were discriminating against LGBT businesses. Ironically, it wasn’t until the Army came to us for a rate card that we realized we were among the victims of DADT.

—  David Taffet

DEATHS: James ‘Kissey’ Olson, James Edward ‘Beaux’ Geer, Ray ‘Alpha Pup’ Witt

James “Kissey” Olson, 62, died at his home in Dallas on March 30 after recently being diagnosed with liver cancer.

Olson was native of Iron River, Mich. After graduating from high school, he served in the U.S. Air Force for six years. He went to work for AT&T, living in Phoeniz, Little Rock and finally Dallas, where he retired.

He had lived in the Dallas area for more than 24 years.

His home here was party central and was always open to his many friends who will miss his and his hospitality.

Olson is survived by his mother, Minnie, and sisters, Ruth and Doris, of Iron River; his brother, Ron, of Milwaukee; his ex-wife, Jo, of Yuma, Az.; his two children, Scott and Amy of Phoenix, and six grandchildren; and his beloved Chihuahua, Moose.

Olson was cremated and his ashes were buried at Iron River. A celebration of his life will be held on the patio at The Hidden Door, 5025 Bowser St., on Saturday, April 30, at 2 p.m.

 

James Edward “Beaux” Geer, 46, died April 13.

Geer worked as a hairdresser with Salon D for 23 years. He was also an artist who founded “Healing Texas through the Arts” to showcase new artists and make their works available to the public.

Geer was truly loved by friends and family, and he had an innocent sweetness of spirit and extraordinary talent that turned everything he touched into a thing of beauty. His paintings provided a view into his soul. He will be profoundly missed by those who knew him and will keep him forever in their hearts.

Geer is survived by his mother and stepfather, Bill and Millie Ritter of Plano; his father, Thomas Geer, Lafayette, La.; his brother Greg “Blackie” Geer, wife Kayce, daughter Typhane and grandson Thor, all of Austin; his best friend and brother-of-the heart, Dale Hall; and a host of other family and friends. Plans are pending for a celebration of life memorial gathering.

 

Ray “Alpha Pup” Witt, 59, died March 30 from an apparent stroke. Witt, loving boy and partner to Daddy Ron Hertz of Dallas and a member of the Dallas leather community, was a former member of Discipline Corps and NLA-Dallas. He held the first International Puppy title presented in 2001, thus becoming the “Alpha Pup.” His gift for storytelling and his warm heart endeared him to many in the community and his presence will be missed.Witt is survived by his partner of 9 ½ years, Ron Hertz of Dallas; his mother, Duluth Witt of Lexington, Ky.; and his canine friend “Mugsy.” A celebration of his life will be held at a later date.

 

—  John Wright

Diablos win their HellFest tourney — and praise from other teams

The first time the Dallas Diablos Rugby Football Club held HellFest, a tournament where they invited other IGRAB member clubs to play in Texas over Halloween, one team showed up.  But they did it again anyway.

And boy did they do it right. Eight teams, represented players from nine clubs, descended on Dallas last weekend for a round-robin tourney, and by the time it was over, there were nine hospital visits, countless bruises and black-eyes … and nothing but nice things to say from all the players.

The tournament itself was an all-day affair on Saturday, with games beginning around 9:15 a.m. and continuing until after 5 p.m. In the final: The Diablos’ home field advantage lifted them over the Minneapolis Mayhem for a 12–0 victory. Bragging rights, but not arrogance. During the after-party at the Dallas Eagle, players from Atlanta to L.A. praised the organization of the event. “The best I’ve ever attended, gay or straight,” one Air Force enlistee told me. They were all impressed by the clockwork play, the officiating and the after-game buffet, and had nice things to say about Dallas (the men and the city — and the block party).

It seems certain it’ll take place again next year. And next time, they’ll plan for even more teams.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Genderqueer student Skye Newkirk among candidates for homecoming king at TCU

Skye Newkirk

We’ll have more on Andy Moreno — the transgender girl who’s reportedly been told she can’t run for homecoming queen at North Dallas High School — in Friday’s Voice.

But for now we wanted to note that Skye Newkirk, a genderqueer student at Texas Christian University, is apparently running for homecoming king. Genderqueer is a catch-all term for gender identities other than male or female.

Newkirk declined to comment for this story because she said homecoming king candidates are barred from promoting their campaigns anywhere except on Facebook, which is where we learned about it.

Anyhow, it looks like the first round of voting for TCU homecoming king got under way today and will continue until midnight tonight. Then there’ll be more interviews Oct. 14 before final voting on Oct. 20 and 21. Voting is open only to TCU students.

If Newkirk wins, it will be interesting to see how the school handles it. If you’ll remember, she was at the center of a major flap last year over a gay dorm at TCU.

The winner will be announced at halftime of TCU’s home football game on Oct. 23 — when the Horned Frogs’ take on Air Force.

—  John Wright

So now they ARE kicking Chaurasiya out of the military

Back on April 5, I posted this blog about Robin Chaurasiya who enlisted in the U.S. Air Force, didn’t ask, didn’t tell and completed her service and got out. Then she was called back to active duty. A fellow soldier — a man she had once

Robin Chaurasiya
Robin Chaurasiya

dated — gave her commanding officer a copy of an e-mail in which Chaurasiya discussed being gay. The commanding officer called her in and said look, someone is spreading nasty rumors. Chaurasiya decides to come out, saying she was tired of living a lie. But the commanding officer refuses to discharge her, saying that the “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy has a clause that says people who say they are gay for the purpose of avoiding military service won’t be discharged.

Whew. Got that? I hope so.

Anyway, now Air Force officials, after further review, have decided they are going to kick Chaurasiya out, according to a report in the Los Angeles Times.

From Today’s L.A. Times:

On Monday [April 19], Air Force officials told Chaurasiya that a more senior officer, Gen. Raymond E. Johns Jr., reversed the earlier decision and recommended she be honorably discharged.

“Chaurasiya had denied she was trying to leave the Air Force, and instead was trying to confront what she believed was the injustice of the military policy.

“‘I am kind of heartbroken,’ said Chaurasiya, who is stationed at Scott Air Force Base in Illinois. ‘I felt my situation was hinting at changes. I really thought I would be able to lead the way for a more equal military.’

“In a statement, the Air Force said that its Air Mobility Command recommended Chaurasiya be discharged. A final decision will be made by Air Force Secretary Michael B. Donley.”

The Times also points out that the Air Force says the decision to go ahead and discharge Chaurasiya was made following the introduction of new evidence in the case. Chaurasiya says the “new evidence” came when officials interviewed her partner to determine if their civil union was “real.”

(The Air Force had earlier claimed that Chaurasiya had entered into a legal civil union in New Hampshire as part of a charade to get discharged.)

And people wonder why we can’t win the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan! Perhaps in the military would just leave its gay and lesbian soldiers alone and let them do their jobs, we could get the job done and get out of there!

—  admin

Chicago Tribune columnist: Exceptions prove DADT rule ridiculous

Yesterday I blogged about Air Force Lt. Robin Chaurasiya who is openly lesbian but is being forced to stay in the military (she was recalled to active duty last year after leaving in 2007) because, her commanding officer says, she was violating “Don’t ask, don’t tell” by telling that she is gay, specifically to get out of the military.

Apparently, DADT has a clause that says if you tell so you can get out, you have to stay.

Sound kind of ridiculous? Chicago Tribune columnist Eric Zorn agrees. He writes:

“The law says, ‘the presence in the armed forces of persons who demonstrate a propensity or intent to engage in homosexual acts . . . create(s) an unacceptable risk to the high standards of morale, good order and discipline, and unit cohesion that are the essence of military capability.’

“Though sometimes, apparently, it doesn’t.

“The exceptions prove the rule is ridiculous.”

Read more of his take on Chaurasiya’s situation here.

—  admin

Damned if you do, damned if you don't ask, don't tell

Robin Chaurasiya knew she was a lesbian — she’d been dating girls since she was 13 — but when she enlisted in the U.S. Air Force, she followed the rules. She didn’t tell the military she was gay.

Robin Chaurasiya
Robin Chaurasiya

Chaurasiya completed her service was left the Air Force in 2007. Then last year, thanks to the ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, she was called back to active duty. Still, she didn’t tell. But somebody else told for her.

According to Queerty.com, after she was called back to duty and sent to Scott Air Force Base in Illinois,  a guy in the military that Chaurasiya had once dated forwarded a group e-mail to her commanding officer in which she acknowledged that she was a lesbian. The commanding officer, Lt. Gen. Robert R. Allardice, then called Chaurasiya in, read the e-mail to her and said he would be angry if someone was making false claims “against her character.”

So Chaurasiya sent Allardice a letter confirming that yes, she is a lesbian;and  yes, she had a legal civil union with her partner.

So what did Allardice do? He refused to disharge her, saying that she was just pretending to be a lesbian so she could get out of the Air Force.

Read more about the situation here at Queerty.com and <span style=”color: #0000ff;”>here at The LA Times.

—  admin

Lesbian soldier discharged after local cops out her

Jene Newsom was doing what the military’s “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy requires: keeping quiet about her sexual orientation and not telling anyone in the military that she was married to another woman.

But police in Rapid City, South Dakota told, and Newsom was dishonorably discharged.

From what I read, Rapid City police were looking for Newsome’s wife in connection with theft charges out of Fairbanks, Alaska. They went to talk to Newsome AT HER JOB at Ellsworth Air Force Base, and she refused to give them keys to her home. So they went to the house and in the process of peeking through windows, saw the marriage license from where Newsome and her partner were legally married in Iowa.

So then, the cops apparently felt compelled to call Newsome’s superiors at Ellsworth and tell them she was a lesbian — in a move that definitely seems like revenge against her because she did not cooperate. And Newsome received a dishonorable discharge.

From the U.K.’s Pink News:

“Police chief Steve Allender said that the marriage licence was relevant because it demonstrated the relationship between the two women.

“He said: ‘It’s an emotional issue and it’s unfortunate that Newsome lost her job, but I disagree with the notion that our department might be expected to ignore the licence, or not document the licence, or withhold it from the Air Force once we did know about it.’”

But as blogger Rachel at AutoStraddle.com notes: “Really? Was the Air Force like calling them every day asking if they knew any gay people in the area who might be adequate to discharge? An ‘internal investigation’ assured no wrong was done, but this seems sketchy as fuck.”

Newsome and the South Dakota ACLU have filed a complaint against the police for violating Newsome’s privacy, and she is considering filing a lawsuit.

—  admin