WATCH: Rick Perry says he ‘would be comfortable’ reinstating ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’

Texas Gov. Rick Perry told ABC News’ Christine Amanpour this morning that he “would be comfortable” reinstating “don’t ask, don’t tell.” It marks the first time Perry has taken a position on the issue during his campaign for the Republican presidential nomination. Watch the clip from ThinkProgress below.

—  John Wright

‘Perform or provide’

DADT repeal gives progressive chaplains a chance to counter evangelical clergy in the military

IMG_5132

CATCH-ALL CHAPLAIN | Chaplain Chris Antal (Lt.) attended the meeting of the Forum on Military Chaplaincy at Cathedral of Hope in October. (David Taffet/Dallas Voice)

DAVID TAFFET  |  Staff Writer
taffet@dallasvoice.com
When a soldier recently came to Chaplain Chris Antal, a lieutenant in the Army National Guard in New York and a Unitarian Universalist minister, and asked if he’d pray with her even though she was a pagan, he said he replied, “Of course I will, but you’ll have to show me how.”

Several weeks later, when he saw her again, she told him that the day she had come to visit him, she had hit rock bottom. He had, she told him, saved her life that day.

But Antal said he was only doing his job — helping any soldier who comes to him.

“I’ve earned the nickname, the Catch-all Chaplain,” he said, explaining that it means he takes everyone the other chaplains don’t want to deal with.

Carpenter.Dodd

Capt. Tom Carpenter (ret.) and Col. Paul Dodd (ret.)

Being there to help a soldier in need is what it’s all about for a military chaplain, said Col. Paul Dodd, a retired chaplain who now lives in Austin.

“The duty of a military chaplain is to perform or provide,” said Dodd, adding that he once sponsored an Islamic conference.

Dodd said that no chaplain can perform every service needed by every member of the military. But if a chaplain can’t perform the service requested, he or she must provide that soldier with a referral to someone else who can.

Antal said that chaplains who enlisted knew what they were getting into — to some extent. But none of them really expected the repeal of the military’s anti-gay “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. And for many, that repeal was a game changer.

In October, a group of active and retired chaplains and military personnel and other people of faith, such as the Rev. Steve Sprinkle from Brite Divinity

School in Fort Worth, met at the Interfaith Peace Chapel at Cathedral of Hope to begin looking at ways of addressing the issues that arose for military chaplains around DADT repeal.

Dave Guy Gainer said The Forum on Military Chaplaincy is not exactly new. It formed in 2005 as a project of Servicemembers Legal Defense Network and worked under the radar until DADT was repealed.

Sprinkle said people in the Pentagon, up through Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, knew about their work and considered their statements throughout the DADT repeal process.

And now, with repeal complete, the group met to “come out.” At their meeting in Dallas, forum members considered ways to become an independent organization helping to ensure newly out service members receive the pastoral care they need while serving in the military.

Susan Gore, principle of The Mentor Group and editor of the book Coming Out In Faith, moderated the Dallas conference. She said the group started with several retired military officers “who wanted to push back against the far-right skew.”

Sprinkle has been part of the forum for four years and said he was recruited to participate because of his work on hate crimes.
Since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, Sprinkle said, more and more members of the Chaplain Corps have come from just one school — Liberty

University, founded by far-right evangelical Jerry Falwell. Today, Sprinkle estimated, one-third of military chaplains come from Liberty University.

“They instituted a program that barely meets minimum requirements,” he said of the evangelical school. “It’s an online course.”

And, Sprinkle said, Liberty University’s goal is to take control of the Chaplain Corps and use the military as a pool for religious recruits.

“This is fertile ground to bring people to Jesus at taxpayer expense,” said Tom Carpenter, a retired Marine captain and one of the forum’s founders.

“I’ve heard stories of them holding the hand of someone who’s dying and trying to bring them to Jesus.”

And although such actions contradict military policy, no one in the corps has been disciplined or dismissed for it.

“They give chaplains a lot of leeway,” Carpenter said.

Gainer said the military is looking for well-rounded ministers who bring experience with them to the military.

According to the U.S. Army Chaplain Center and School in Fort Jackson, S.C., candidates must be endorsed by their denomination or faith group and be “sensitive to religious pluralism and able to provide for the free exercise of religion by all military personnel, their family members and civilians who work for the Army.”

But Sprinkle said that Liberty University is transparent about its goals, and those goals do not line up.

“They’re not committed to pluralism or serving all the troops,” he said.

Gainer said that the greatest opposition to repealing DADT came from the Chaplain Corps because military chaplains answer to two groups — the military and their denomination. Those chaplains that didn’t adhere to a strict stance of maintaining the ban on gays and lesbians were threatened with losing their accreditation from their endorsing religious body — and with it their livelihood and their pensions.

But that contradicts the stated goals of the Chaplain Corps.

“Someone has to say, ‘Either you comply and serve all the troops all the time or get out,’” Sprinkle said.

Gore said that one of the goals of the newly public forum is to “rebalance the Chaplain Corps by bringing in more mainstream faiths.” She said that for many who come from more liberal traditions, questions of what’s a just war make it hard to serve in the military. Antal, for example, is one of just four Unitarian Universalists in the Chaplain Corps.

During its push for repeal of DADT, members
said, the forum had several successes working behind the scenes.

Despite the assumption of confidentiality between parishioner and clergy, that wasn’t always the case between gay soldier and chaplain. Dodd said that a number of discharges under DADT occurred after a soldier talked to a chaplain and the chaplain turned them in.

In fact, he wrote a white paper on the practice. After he submitted it, the military tightened up on chaplain confidentiality, Dodd said.

Carpenter, an attorney, wrote an amicus brief for the Log Cabin Republicans’ lawsuit against DADT. The court found in favor of declaring DADT unconstitutional, but Congress repealed the law before the decision could be enforced.

Carpenter said that the repeal allows gays and lesbians to serve with no protection. The legal decision, had it not been vacated upon repeal, would have allowed gays and lesbians to serve equally.

Now that DADT is gone, the forum is examining how to ensure LGB personnel receive the same services as other troops from chaplains.

Dodd said that right-wing chaplains charge that allowing gays and lesbians to serve in the military will force them to act in ways that go against their beliefs. Some have said they would be required to perform same-sex weddings.

Dodd called that ridiculous. Chaplains are never asked to perform duties that go against their religious beliefs, he said.

“I turned down weddings,” he said. “An officer came to me who wasn’t divorced.”

He said the officer tried to pull strings and force the issue, but Dodd wasn’t going to discuss marrying someone who was still married to someone else.

“But we’re insisting chaplains have the authority, if it’s in keeping with their faith, to marry same-sex couples,” he said.

Because of the Defense of Marriage Act, the repeal provides no family benefits. For some issues, Dodd and Carpenter suggested work-arounds.

Issuing ID cards would be extremely helpful, especially to same-sex couples with children, Carpenter said, noting that “That way either parent could get on base to get a child to the hospital.”

In another example, joint assignments can be offered at the discretion of a commanding officer, and married couples are often assigned together when they both qualify for positions that are available at the same base. Same-sex couples could be given the same priority.

As the forum looks ahead, rebalancing the Chaplain Corps with members from a more diverse background to reflect the membership of the military is a priority.

“And we need to take care of our trans brothers and sisters,” Carpenter said.

The repeal of DADT did not address any transgender issues and does not allow transgender men or women to serve in the military.

Gainer believes representatives of the forum need to sit down with far-right members of the Chaplain Corps and agree to disagree. He said that before the repeal of DADT, they talked to people at Veterans of Foreign Wars and the American Legion. While both groups testified against the repeal, they met with some success.

“The president of the VFW in Pflugerville said it was the right thing to do,” Gainer said.

That dialogue, he believed, would help chaplains perform or at least provide a useful referral, rather than doing more damage to a soldier seeking help.

Gore thought that the focus of discussion should be with the majority of chaplains “who want to do a good job and are part of the moveable middle.”

“We have to convince administrators and educators in divinity schools to encourage some of their best and brightest to serve,” Sprinkle said. “So many schools dropped what they were doing during the Vietnam era.”

Antal thinks that gays and lesbians will gain more acceptance as they tell their stories in non-confrontational settings and others see “their identity as professional service members is primary.”

While the work of the forum will concentrate on helping LGB military personnel, creating a more diverse Chaplain Corps may help a majority of service members. Recent polls show that a majority of troops find the chaplaincy irrelevant.

Sprinkle called the work of the forum a gift from the LGBT community to the nation.

“You wouldn’t think we’d be the ones opening the doors so that all troops will be served with dignity, integrity and respect,” he said.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition November 4, 2011.

 

—  Kevin Thomas

Court throws out Log Cabin’s DADT challenge

Now that “don’t ask, don’t tell” has been repealed, a federal appeals court today declared moot Log Cabin Republicans’ lawsuit challenging the policy — and vacated a district judge’s ruling that said DADT was unconstitutional.

Log Cabin has argued that having the case declared moot could open the door for a future administration to reinstate DADT, which was repealed effective Sept. 20.. And the group continues to blame President Barack Obama for the Justice Department’s decision to litigate the case.

“Log Cabin Republicans v. United States said more than ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ should be repealed — it stood for the fundamental constitutional rights of servicemembers not to be discriminated against by the nation they serve,” LCR Executive Director R. Clarke Cooper (pictured) said in a statement responding to today’s ruling. “President Obama should be ashamed that he is responsible for undoing that important precedent.”

Dan Woods, an attorney for Log Cabin Republicans, said the group plans to appeal today’s decision, which came from a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

“We are, of course, disappointed by today’s ruling but we will continue to fight on for the constitutional rights of all people impacted by Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” Woods said. “This is an important issue for all Americans and we anticipate seeking re-hearing before the full Ninth Circuit.”

—  John Wright

DADT repeal celebrated in Dallas

Gay and lesbian former servicemembers raised their hands to indicate they served in the military at a reception at Resource Center Dallas

Resource Center Dallas hosted a “don’t ask, don’t tell” repeal party on Tuesday. A number of gay and lesbian former servicemembers attended, some of whom were discharged under DADT. Among them several who are considering rejoining the military.

David Guy Gainer, a board member for Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, presented his collection of papers and memorabilia on the history of DADT to the Phil Johnson Library — the Resource Center’s LGBT history archive.

Among the items presented was the book Ask & Tell by Steve Estes. Guy Gainer traveled with the book that is a compilation of essays and had many of the writers autograph the copy that is now at the library. His papers included a copy of an email from the White House inviting Guy Gainer to the DADT repeal signing ceremony.

Guy Gainer said although repeal was the major goal of SLDN, work remains. Gay and lesbian servicemembers won’t be eligible for 40 benefits available to straight ones. Those include everything from library and PX exchange store privileges to health and housing benefits. And transgender people are still barred from serving openly.

For a full story, see Friday’s Dallas Voice.

—  David Taffet

DADT ends, but discrimination continues

Dan Choi being arrested at the White House while protesting DADT.

The Dallas celebration of the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell” begins at 5:30 p.m. today at Resource Center Dallas.

Although the policy to discharge any member of the military suspected of being gay or lesbian has ended, discrimination has not. That discrimination may take a number of forms, including refusal to promote. Benefits will also not be equal. The military will not recognize same-sex spouses so gay and lesbian families will not receive any benefits including housing and health benefits. And transgender service members are still barred from open service.

But the discriminatory policy toward gays and lesbians has ended, and President Barack Obama issued a statement today:

—  David Taffet

DADT is finally dead

OutServe, a group for active-duty LGBT military personnel, published an issue of its magazine featuring 101 newly out servicemembers to mark the end of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell.’

After 18 years and more than 14,000 discharges, “don’t ask, don’t tell” finally ended at 12:01 this morning. For the first time in the nation’s 235-year history, gays and lesbians can serve openly in the U.S. military.

President Barack Obama took to Twitter to mark the end of the ban, and the White House posted video of gay veterans talking about what DADT’s demise means to them. A Pentagon press conference is planned later today.

OutServe, a group for active-duty LGBT military personnel, published a DADT repeal issue of its magazine featuring 101 newly out servicemembers. And one gay servicemember stationed in Germany came out to his father in the middle of the night and posted the emotional clip on YouTube (video below).

Servicemembers Legal Defense Network said 100 events are planned in all 50 states to celebrate the end of DADT, including in Austin/Fort Hood, Dallas, El Paso, Houston and San Antonio. The Dallas celebration is from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. at Resource Center Dallas.

“Today marks the official end of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ and is an historic milestone along the journey to achieving LGBT equality in America’s military,” SLDN Executive Director Aubrey Sarvis said in a statement. “Thanks to veterans, active duty, leaders, allies and supporters everywhere, this is a monumental day for our service members and our nation. Indeed, we have taken a tremendous leap forward for LGBT equality in the military.

“Our work is far from done, but today we pay tribute to the service and sacrifice of our patriots as we look forward to a new era of military service — one that honors the contributions of all qualified Americans who have served or who wish to serve,” Sarvis said.

Below are more statements on the end of DADT, as well as video of the gay servicemember coming out to his dad.

—  John Wright

Never say die: House Armed Services committee members try again to delay DADT repeal

You gotta give it to those right-wingers; they are some persistent folk.

Rep. Buck McKeon, left, and Rep. Joe Wilson

On Monday, Sept. 12, less than 10 days until the date set for repeal of the military’s anti-gay “don’t ask, don’t tell” rule to finally go into effect, House Armed Services Committee Chair Rep. Buck McKeon, a Republican from California, and Military Personnel Subcommittee Chair Rep. Joe Wilson, a Republican from South Carolina, tried one more time to keep the repeal from happening. The two sent a letter to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta on Monday, claiming that repeal can’t happen yet because “all the policies and regulations necessary for the transition are not yet final,” according to Lisa Keen with Keen News Service.

As Keen reports, McKeon and Wilson were particularly concerned that the Department of Defense had not yet sent them “revised regulations and a summary of all the specific policy changes, especially with regard to benefits, that will take effect upon repeal.”

(Just a side note: Wilson is the guy who made headlines in 2009 when, during a speech by President Obama to a joint session of Congress, he hollered out,”You lie!” He later apologized to the president, but was officially rebuked by his congressional colleagues.)

A DOD spokeswoman said Thursday, Sept. 17, that DOD officials have, indeed, apprised Congress of all the changes to policies and regulations associated with DADT repeal, that none of the service secretaries, service chiefs or combatant commanders had long ago submitted all their recommendations regarding repeal, that none of those folks had suggested a delay, and that repeal will most definitely go ahead as planned next Tuesday, Sept. 20.

Let’s hope the DOD folks are right and the right-wingers don’t manage to find a way to stall things, because DADT repeal parties have been planned across the country for next Tuesday, including one at Resource Center Dallas (and later at Pekers). Gay Air Force veteran and Servicemembers Legal Defense Network board member David Guy Gainer will be at the RCD event, donating his collection of materials related to DADT and its repeal to the Phil Johnson Historic Archives and Library.

And while this will certainly be a day for celebration, SLDN is warning lesbians and gays still on active duty in the military that there are still plenty of dos and don’ts for them to keep in mind. You can read the SLDN’s guidelines on what parties lesbian and gay servicemembers should and shouldn’t attend here.

—  admin

COVER STORY: Coming out of the shadows

As the process of repealing DADT nears its end, some gay servicemembers discharged under the policy are considering the possibility of re-enlisting

DAVID TAFFET | Staff Writer
taffet@dallasvoice.com

Since the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy — prohibiting gays and lesbians from serving openly in the U.S. military — was first enacted in 1993, more than 14,000 men and women have been discharged, according to the Government Accounting Office.

Now that the policy has been repealed by Congress, in a vote last December, and since that repeal has been certified by the Pentagon and President Obama, some of those gay and lesbian former servicemembers plan to re-enlist.

DADT repeal will be complete Sept. 20, 60 days after the president, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff signed the certification of repeal.

Of those discharged under DADT, 2,215 were in critical positions, according to the GAO which, in its latest report, estimated that each dismissal cost the government $52,800. That’s a total of about three-quarters of a billion dollars.

Servicemembers Legal Defense Network estimates the actual cost of each dismissal was much higher.

But there is more to these discharges than numbers and politics. Behind each one is a very personal story of a life that suddenly veered in a new and unexpected direction.

Michael Moore

Michael Moore

Michael Moore graduated from Seagoville High School a year early then enlisted in the Air Force in 2004 at the age of 17. He was 19 and stationed in Germany when he began to come out.

And technically he did tell.

“I told one person,” he said.

During his coming-out process, Moore approached a supervisor in another department and asked her what would happen if he came out.

“The next morning, she came up and told me she was going to report it,” he said.

Moore said his sergeant called him in and yelled at him, then they sent him to counseling.

“They were afraid I was going to commit suicide. They were concerned because I was going career,” Moore said.

But he knew the concern wasn’t for him and certainly not for the military career he had planned. They only sent him to counseling to cover themselves.

His discharge process began immediately.

Fighting the discharge would have entailed a lengthy and expensive court battle in civil court, something he couldn’t afford. Besides, Moore said, he didn’t think he could win in court anyway.

“It would have just delayed the inevitable,” he said.

Moore described the administrative discharge proceeding as one-sided and unfair. He said the attorney assigned to his case was in another country and he spoke to him only once. Within two months, Moore was out of the service.

Now it’s five years later, and DADT is ending, and Moore said he hopes to return to the service, but only after he finishes his degree.

“I want to go back as an officer,” he said.

He is studying for a degree at the Art Institute of Dallas that will qualify him to re-enter as an officer.

“On the one hand, I’m glad it happened,” he said. “I got to know who I am. Before I went in, I didn’t even know what gay meant.”

Because of his service, Moore receives government assistance toward his education. But because of DADT, he said he’s only receiving half of what others who completed even a two-year hitch get.

Moore hopes that those who are in the service are careful about coming out. Just because it’s legal, does mean coming out will necessarily be safe. He said he wonders if the woman he told had changed her attitude.

“She knows what she did,” he said, “and she’ll have to live with it.”

Jeremy Johnson

Jeremy Johnson

Jeremy Johnson of Maryland served in the Navy and came out to his commanding officer in 2007 after realizing there was no way to successfully juggle his private life and his professional life in the military as long as he remained closeted.

“I was under a whole lot of pressure being in the service in a position of leadership,” Johnson said. “I was under scrutiny.”

While some commanders would immediately start trying to discharge someone who came out, Johnson said his commander instead started looking for ways to keep him in the Navy.

“He told me, ‘I think things will change if you’ll just hang on,’” Johnson recalled.

Because his command needed him, “Technically, they could keep me,” Johnson said. But he was discharged anyway, after 10 years of service.

After leaving the Navy, Johnson worked for a year as a contractor in the same position he left. In August 2008, he went back to school fulltime and now has one year left to complete his degree at University of Maryland.

He also works at The Palm Center, which does research on sexual minorities in the military.

Now, four years after he was discharged, Johnson is exploring the possibility of re-enlisting.

“I’m looking to go back as a reservist,” he said. “I have half my career in.”

One setback is that there is currently no room for him to return at his former level.

“They have allotments of how many can be in a job at a pay grade,” Johnson said. “They’re at 104 percent and won’t take me.”

He said that the military used to allow someone to drop a pay grade when they re-enlisted, but no longer.

Once he has his degree, Johnson said he would put together an officer package and if the Navy cannot accommodate him, he may find an opportunity in the Army or National Guard.

Johnson believes one thing brought down DADT — Facebook, which allowed gay and lesbian troops to connect.

“Every time you transfer, you have to seek out the gay underground,” he said. “On one base, there might be fractured circles.”

He said that Facebook led to social media specifically for those in the military like OutServe and OutMilitary.com. As more gay and lesbian service members met, they also organized.

Justin Elzie

Justin Elzie

Justin Elzie agrees that without the Internet, anti-DADT protests like those at the White House last year that led to the arrest of Lt. Dan Choi as well as GetEqual activist Mark Reed-Walkup of Dallas would not have happened.

And Elzie said he believes those demonstrations were instrumental in bringing an end to DADT.

Elzie was the first person dismissed from the Marine Corps under DADT.

He had already served 10 years in 1993 when President Bill Clinton came into office after pledging during his campaign to issue an executive order allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly. And Elzie was ready to announce that he was gay as soon as that executive order was issued.

But Congress derailed Clinton’s plan, forcing him into a compromise that came to be known as “don’t ask, don’t tell.” Under this new congressionally-mandated rule, gays and lesbians could serve in the military as long as they stayed deeply closeted. And while military leaders could still discharge someone for being gay, they weren’t supposed to go around asking about servicemembers’ sexual orientation unless they had good reason.

But Elzie, who had served in Operation Desert Storm in Iraq, made his announcement on ABC News anyway.

“I was pretty naïve back then,” Elzie said recently. But his naivete aside, he knew he was putting his military career on the line when he came out: Before he came out, the commandant of the Marine Corps made news by announcing that there were no gay or lesbian Marines. Elzie couldn’t let that lie stand.

“I just couldn’t stand by and not say a thing,” he said.

Elzie had planned at the time to stay in the military just three more months. But with his announcement, the Marine Corps held an administrative hearing and discharged him. So he sued and won, a move that kept him in the service for four more years while the case progressed.

In the early days of DADT, there were some legal successes; Elzie was among them. He lined up character witnesses and put together a brief detailing his successful military record, and the court ordered the Marine Corps to reinstate him.

During those four extra years, Elzie was recommended for promotion twice. Both times, the Pentagon refused to allow him to be promoted and in 1997, he was forced out of the service.

“They wanted to make an example of me,” Elzie said.

What happens now

Log Cabin Republicans in 2004 filed a federal lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of DADT, claiming that the policy violates the first and fifth amendments. Federal court Judge Virginia Phillips ruled in Log Cabin’s favor in October 2010 and issued an injunction against the policy — an injunction that was promptly stayed by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

The appeals court lifted the stay in July this year, saying the Justice Department has been unable to meet the legal standard needed to justify keeping it in place. Despite the fact that Congress repealed DADT last December and the repeal has since been certified, formal arguments for the appeal in the Log Cabin case are set for Aug. 29.

Elzie said that he believes the ruling last October in the Log Cabin lawsuit forced the Obama administration and Congress to repeal DADT. And he hopes the case continues through the courts despite the repeal, because he said he sees a difference between the judicial proceedings and the congressional repeal.

“The repeal says we can serve,” he said. “The Log Cabin case says we’re equal,” Elzie clarified, adding that while the repeal of the law will eventually change attitudes in society and in the military, the change won’t come easy. Anti-gay commanding officers, he noted, will likely continue to make life hard for gays and lesbians under their command.

Having openly gay and lesbian people in the military will inevitably effect change in the larger society, Elzie suggested, because when people from less progressive areas of the country serve together with gays and lesbians who are both open and professional, they will carry that experience back home with them after their service.

North Texan Dave Guy-Gainer, a gay military veteran now on the board of Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, has long been one of those in the trenches in the fight to get rid of DADT. What does he think will happen on Sept. 20 when repeal is complete and DADT is finally laid to rest: “Massive hurricanes, disastrous floods and violent tornados.”

Then again, Guy-Gainer said, probably nothing will happen, and all that will be different is the military will not be wasting time and money throwing out well-trained personnel.

—  John Wright

DADT advocate Justin Elzie speaks at RCD

Being all he can be

Justin Elzie may be a happy man right now. As “don’t ask, don’t tell” comes to an end, his work wasn’t in vain. Named Marine of the Year in ‘93, he was discharged for coming out on national TV. He sued, won and has been advocating for LGBT rights in the military. He comes to Dallas to discuss his work in fighting for DADT’s repeal.

DEETS: Resource Center Dallas, 2701 Reagan 2 p.m. RCDallas.org.

—  Rich Lopez

WHAT’S BREWING: Day of prayer suit dismissed; post-DADT guide for gay troops; NY marriage split

Your weekday morning blend from Instant Tea:

1. A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit that sought to block Texas Gov. Rick Perry from participating in or promoting his Aug. 6 day of prayer on the grounds that his involvement violates the separation of church and state. The group of atheists and agnostics that filed the lawsuit, the Freedom from Religion Foundation, says it may appeal Thursday’s decision. Meanwhile, a DV poll over on our main page (lower right) shows that 70 percent of respondents believe Perry’s involvement with the event is in fact a violation of the first amendment’s establishment clause.

2. In anticipation of the end of “don’t ask, don’t tell” in September, a leading advocacy group has published a legal guide for gay servicemembers who’ll be serving openly post-DADT. Servicemembers Legal Defense Network also launched a redesigned website reflecting a shift in the group’s focus. “The work of advancing military equality marches forward after repeal,” SLDN Executive Director Aubrey Sarvis said in a press release. “At SLDN, we will fight alongside those who may face harassment or discrimination as we oversee implementation; when necessary and timely, litigate in the courts to bring about full LGBT equality in America’s military; advocate for legally married service members to receive the same benefits as their straight counterparts; and assist veterans to correct or upgrade their discharge paperwork.”

3. The nation is split 50 percent to 46 percent over whether marriage equality in New York is a good thing, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll. Check out the breakdown of the poll results below.

—  John Wright