SLDN CALLS ON PRESIDENT TO ISSUE EXECUTIVE ORDER BANNING DISCRIMINATION BASED ON SEXUAL ORIENTATION AND GENDER IDENTITY
Washington, D.C. — In a letter sent to the White House today, Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN) urged President Obama to issue an executive order prohibiting discrimination in the armed forces based on sexual orientation and gender identity. SLDN recommends that the executive order go into effect on the date of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT) repeal, which is 60 days after certification by the President, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Michael Mullen.
“Signing legislation that allows for repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ was a necessary first step, but it is not sufficient for ensuring equality in the military. We call upon the President to issue an executive order so that sexual orientation and gender identity are not barriers to applying for a job or advancing in your career,” said Aubrey Sarvis, Army veteran and executive director for Servicemembers Legal Defense Network.
The explicit anti-discrimination provision that was part of legislation to repeal DADT was dropped from the bill passed by Congress and signed into law by the President last December. An executive order is therefore needed to give service members recourse outside their chain of command if they are experiencing discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
“Every service member deserves equal respect and a safe work environment. President Obama now has an opportunity to demonstrate the same leadership that President Truman did when he issued an executive order to end racial segregation in the military, and issue an executive order that protects all patriots regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. The President recognizes that it will take more than just repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ to end discrimination against LGBT service members, and we couldn’t agree more,” Sarvis said.
STILL AT RISK: Despite the President signing the bill authorizing repeal of DADT, it is still unsafe for service members to come out until 60 days after certification by President Obama, Secretary Gates, and Admiral Mullen. Warning to service members: www.SLDN.org/StillAtRisk
SLDN FREE HOTLINE: Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender service members with questions are urged to contact the SLDN hotline to speak with a staff attorney: 202-328-3244 x100.
ABOUT SLDN: Servicemembers Legal Defense Network was established in 1993 when “Don’t Ask” originally passed. In addition to working on repeal, SLDN offers free, confidential legal services to those impacted by the discriminatory law. Last year the organization received its 10,000th call for assistance to its legal hotline.
[The text of the SLDN's policy letter on LGBT antidiscrimination in the military services to President Obama is below the fold.] The letter sent to President Obama from the SLDN — signed by their executive director Aubrey Sarvis:
February 9, 2011
President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20500
Dear President Obama:
Last month, you signed legislation that provided for the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”. This was a major accomplishment for the United States military, for gay and lesbian Americans, and for your Administration and the United States Congress. We look forward to the certification by you, the Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joints Chiefs of Staff that will bring this unwise and discriminatory law to an end.
But you have recognized that repeal of this law, while necessary, is not sufficient. You said, “The eradication of this policy will require more than just eliminating one statute. It will require the implementation of anti-harassment policies and protocols for dealing with abusive or discriminatory behavior as we transition our armed forces away from a policy of discrimination.” With this, we completely agree.
And yet, recent statements by some leaders in the Department of Defense indicate that they see no need for such policies and protocols — that business as usual is enough. With this, we do not agree. A mechanism should be put in place so that service members have a place to turn, independent of their chain of command, if they are subject to discrimination based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. Being able to apply for a job and advance in one’s career, free from discrimination, is not, as some have termed, a “special right”. And a workplace free from discrimination does not happen just because our leadership says it must.
We, therefore, call on you to show the leadership President Truman did when he issued an Executive Order banning racial discrimination in the armed services and to issue an Executive Order prohibiting discrimination in the armed services based on sexual orientation and gender identity to be effective on the date of repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”. Bills introduced in the past three Congresses that included an explicit anti-discrimination provision to accompany “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal attracted hundreds of co-sponsors, but this language was dropped from the bill that passed last year. Your Executive Order can ensure that the military adopts the necessary nondiscrimination policies coincident with repeal of the discriminatory law.
Servicemembers Legal Defense Network
What the inclusion of gender identity in the SLDN’s messaging means is unclear to me. Perhaps we’ll find out in coming days.
Radio personality Don Imus said MSNBC host Rachel Maddow was a coward
for not defending her colleague Keith Olberman when the news was
announced that he was leaving the network. Advocate.com: Daily News
Since we were able to reclaim this removed post, let’s look at Maggie’s stated claim. Maggie says that even though her ideas still ended up getting trounced in the Economist debate, she’s actually glad because of the change that occurred. This change:
That’s what she’s so happy about: That through NOM and other group’s GOTV actions she was able to grow opposition by 19%, getting it all the way to 37%? Well okay, Maggie, if you want to claim that as progress, then go for it. Though you should know: It isless than the The Cool Moose Party candidate for Lt. Governor .
Character actor R. Lee Ermey, currently starring in that loathsome “Namby-Pamby Land” commercial from Geico, appeared before thousands of Marines at a Toys For Tots event to call on them to “rise up” against the president’s plan to “impose socialism” on the country. Ermey’s one-note career first came to notice in 1987′s Full Metal Jacket when his abusive drill sergeant character pushed a Marine recruit into suicide.
With votes on the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” looming in both the House and Senate, HRC field staff recently met with the Mayor of Portland, Nick Mavadones, at town hall. We updated the Mayor on the status of repeal and watched as he signed a personal letter to both Senators Collins and Snowe on the topic. In his letters, he urges both Senators to “exercise their leadership and repeal this outdated policy.” You can read the full text of the Mayor’s letters here.
After the unsuccessful vote on the Department of Defense Authorization Act in the Senate last week, Senator Susan Collins of Maine, announced that she is cosponsoring a new stand alone bill. The bill may be our last chance to see “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repealed this year. We are grateful to Senator Collins for her stand on this bill, but we do not yet have a commitment from Senator Olympia Snowe. We have been holding phone banks every night and canvassing Mainers in public areas everyday, asking them to call Senator Snowe and urge her to cosponsor the new bill to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” NOW!
As we continue to watch this develop in the Senate, we must keep pushing with all that we have. If you live in Maine, please call Senator Snowe NOW and ask her to cosponsor S.4023, the new stand alone bill to repeal DADT.
Senator Olympia Snowe:
If the line is busy, keep trying. If you have called already, call again. The vote could take place at any moment!
When you are through, you can also send a “thank you” message to Senator Susan Collins and others in the Senate who have championed this cause.
Sen. Carl Levin is willing to be the grinch who steals Christmas to get Don't Ask Don't Tell's repeal pushed through, insisting Obama use his "bully pulpit" to pressure the Senate into reconfiguring its holiday break schedule so Republicans can prove they're willing to ruin Christmas to filibuster repeal. But Obama won't do that, 'cause his balls are smalls.
And she’s right. About two things. One, someone at HRC has to pay for the absolute fiasco of the past two years, but just as importantly, this isn’t just about HRC head Joe Solmonese. The organization is far too timid, and co-opted by Democrats. The entire organization needs shaking up, including the board.
A growing number of people have been talking about a primary challenge to the President. Well, Joe Solmonese needs his own primary challenge. Here’s Pam:
One can only call Joe Solmonese’s reign as a “could have been,” with DADT as the latest of a string of lobbying efforts, such as they are, that seemed more in tune with keeping the peace (and cocktails) flowing when it was clear to even a political novice (or Cheetos-stained blogger) that the Obama administration had only a limited amount of time to move any LGBT legislation in the first two years, and repeal of DADT was back-burnered in favor ENDA by HRC in “the plan”, which has, as we have seen, gone NOWHERE.
Honestly, for HRC to become the organization the community needs it to be in terms of a lobbying organization with access to our elected power brokers, it will take more than Joe Solmonese’s resignation. The organization is multi-faceted and is populated with well-meaning, hard working people who deserve better leadership — and the buck stops at Joe’s desk.
Over at Good As You, activist Jeremy Hooper has somehow uncovered a not-yet issued press release from the Family Research Council in which they call for the nation’s anti-gay hate groups to stand in solidarity against the Southern Poverty Law Center’s designations of anti-gay hate groups.
In today’s second death-of-irony alert, the document is titled Start Debating: Stop Hating. Because according to the Family Research Council, we are the haters in this game.
The surest sign one is losing a debate is to resort to character assassination. The Southern Poverty Law Center, a liberal fundraising machine whose tactics have been condemned by observers across the political spectrum, is doing just that.
The group, which was once known for combating racial bigotry, is now attacking several groups that uphold Judeo-Christian moral views, including marriage as the union of a man and a woman. How does the SPLC attack? By labeling its opponents “hate groups.” No discussion. No consideration of the issues. No engagement. No debate
These type of slanderous tactics have been used against voters who signed petitions and voted for marriage amendments in all thirty states that have considered them, as well as against the millions of Americans who identify with the Tea Party movement. Some on the Left have even impugned the Manhattan Declaration-which upholds the sanctity of life, the value of traditional marriage and the fundamental right of religious freedom-as an anti-gay document and have forced its removal from general communications networks.
This is intolerance pure and simple. Elements of the radical Left are trying to shut down informed discussion of policy issues that are being considered by Congress, legislatures, and the courts. Tell the radical Left it is time to stop spreading hateful rhetoric attacking individuals and organizations merely for expressing ideas with which they disagree. Our debates can and must remain civil – but they must never be suppressed through personal assaults that aim only to malign an opponents character.
You can take action by adding your name to the following statement:
We, the undersigned, stand in solidarity with Family Research Council, American Family Association, Concerned Women of America, National Organization for Marriage, Liberty Counsel and other pro-family organizations that are working to protect and promote natural marriage and family. We support the vigorous but responsible exercise of the First Amendment rights of free speech and religious liberty that are the birthright of all Americans.
Over at Right Wing Watch, People For The American Way reminds us exactly who the haters are with a link farm to recent statements by the above-listed groups.
This is going to be continually updated and rough to start… much patience will be required!
According to the ever-wise, all-knowing and very dear friend of the Blend Joe Sudbay, Maine Senator Susan Collins and her office follow Twitter feeds VERY closely.
So we’re embarking on an impromptu campaign to wake up the Maine media, who for the most part are NOT paying attention to either DADT repeal or the key role Collins now finds herself in the process, and to flood the senator’s Twitterfeed. EqualityMaine has already started tweeting messages this morning as well, which I have shared.
@SenatorSnowe EQME tweeting- NOW to repeal DADT Sen Susan Collins (202) 224-2523 Sen Olympia Snowe (202) 224-5344 #dadt
@SenatorCollins EQME tweeting- NOW to repeal DADT Sen Susan Collins (202) 224-2523 Sen Olympia Snowe (202) 224-5344 #dadt #mepolitics
Who’s with us? Here’s what we need to do:
1. Message her @SenatorCollins or retweet.
2. Use hashtags #DADT and #mepolitics. The second not as necessary, but I know she and her staff follow both and it will then land in the feeds of mainy more Mainers, including media.
Seventeen years after leading the fight in Congress against gays in the military, former Democratic senator Sam Nunn says he thinks gays could serve openly without damaging the armed forces’ ability to fight.
In an interview this week, Nunn told the Associated Press that the law known as “don’t ask, don’t tell” should be overturned as long as there is enough time to prepare the troops for the change. He said the Pentagon should be given at least a year before the repeal takes effect to ensure operations in Afghanistan aren’t affected.
“Society has changed, and the military has changed,” the former senator from Georgia said.
Press releases wilol be below the fold… Press release from IAVA
Senate Must Pass Defense Bill Supporting Troops, Military Families This Year
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, December 9, 2010
Critical Provisions to Address Invisible Wounds, Military Sexual Trauma Included
NEW YORK – Today, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), the country’s first and largest nonprofit, nonpartisan organization for veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, called on the Senate to swiftly pass the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). Although “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” has dominated the national discussion, and it is undoubtedly important, it is only one part of the vital Defense Bill. This broad legislation also includes provisions to expand mental health care resources, address Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and Military Sexual Trauma (MST), extend the stop loss deadline and improve the electronic sharing of health records between the DoD and the VA.
“Most of America thinks there is an up or down vote on ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.’ Missing from the national discussion is the fact that DADT is one of dozens of important provisions included in a Defense Bill that will have a historic impact on our troops and veterans. While the country is fighting two wars, passing funding for our troops should be a no-brainer. We cannot allow personal politics to get in the way of supporting our service members. If Congress fails to pass the Defense Bill, it will be the first time in 48 years. That’s not a precedent this Administration or Congress wants to set,” said IAVA Founder and Executive Director Paul Rieckhoff.
“Our troops can’t afford to wait until next year for vital Pentagon funding. One in three troops are coming home today with invisible wounds like Traumatic Brain Injury, one in seven female veterans are screening positive for Military Sexual Trauma and thousands of service members are losing their medical records as they transition from the DoD to the VA health care systems. IAVA urges the Senate to pass this critical legislation this year and ensure our troops aren’t left waiting for live saving resources.”
In addition to a provision for the repeal of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy (see IAVA’s full statement supporting repeal here ), key provisions contained in the NDAA address the following urgent issues:
? Expanding the number of DoD mental health providers. There is a chronic shortage of mental health providers in the military. With rates of mental health injuries and suicide rising higher every month, the DoD is in desperate need of providers to help service members identify and combat invisible wounds. This bill provides education incentives to recruit both civilian and military mental health care providers. (Senate ?703)
? Mandatory pre- and post-deployment TBI assessments. Although TBI is the signature wound of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the DoD has never adequately developed a comprehensive screening program. NDAA will require the DoD to do pre-deployment assessments to compare to post-deployment assessments after a potential injury. (House ?722)
? Eradicating Military Sexual Trauma. NDAA contains 29 recommendations of the Joint Task Force on Sexual Assault in the Military, including modernizing the Uniform Code of Military Justice and the creation of a sexual assault reporting hot line. (House ?1601-1664)
? DoD/VA record sharing. In 2009, the DoD and VA began to work on a joint electronic lifetime record that follows a service member from enlistment to the grave. There have been concerns that the record sharing between the DoD and VA could violate the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). NDAA would change HIPAA to allow records to migrate between the DoD and the VA. (Senate ?715, House ?532)
? Military pay raise and bonuses. NDAA provides a 1.9% pay increase for all service members and the extension of a host of recruitment and retention bonuses set to expire. (House ?601)
Because of these provisions and a number of others, passage of the NDAA this year is broadly supported. IAVA is a member of The Military Coalition (TMC), a consortium of 32 nationally prominent military and veterans organizations representing more than 5.5 million current and former service members, their families and survivors. The TMC recently urged the passage of NDAA in a letter to Senator Reid and Senator McConnell here .
Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America www.IAVA.org is the country’s first and largest nonprofit, nonpartisan organization for veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and has more than 200,000 Member Veterans and civilian supporters nationwide. Its mission is to improve the lives of this country’s newest generation of veterans and their families.