President Barack Obama signs the certification stating the statutory requirements for repeal of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ have been met, in the Oval Office on Friday. Pictured, from left, are Brian Bond, deputy director of the Office of Public Engagement; Kathleen Hartnett, associate counsel to the president; Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta; Kathryn Ruemmler, counsel to the president; Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen; and Vice President Joe Biden. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza/via Rex Wockner)
President Barack Obama is shown signing the law repealing ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ on Dec. 22, 2010. After a delay of more than six months during which the U.S. military branches received training on DADT repeal and dealing with openly gay and lesbian servicemembers, the president today certified repeal of the gay ban. DADT will officially be lifted in 60 days.
President Barack Obama has put his signature to certification of the repeal of the military’s anti-gay “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, which means that the ban on openly gay and lesbian members of the U.S. military officially ends in 60 days, or on Sept. 20.
“Today, we have taken the final major step toward ending the discriminatory ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ law that undermines our military readiness and violates American principles of fairness and equality,” the president said today after signing the repeal certification, adding that he had indeed “certified and notified Congress that the requirements for repeal have been met.”
The president continued, “As Commander in Chief, I have always been confident that our dedicated men and women in uniform would transition to a new policy in an orderly manner that preserves unit cohesion, recruitment, retention and military effectiveness. … Our military will no longer be deprived of the talents and skills of patriotic Americans just because they happen to be gay or lesbian.”
Obama also praised “our civilian and military leadership for moving forward in the careful and deliberate manner that this change requires, especially with our nation at war.”
Word came last night that Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chair Adm. Mike Mullen would be certifying the repeal today, but there had been no confirmation then that the president would also certify repeal today.
“The days of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ are quite literally numbered,” Laura W. Murphy, director of the American Civil Liberties Union Washington Legislative Office, said in a press release announcing that Obama had signed the certification. Murphy then went on to say that many other statutes that discriminate against LGBT people are still on the books, at the state and federal levels, and that the ACLU would “continue to seek justice” for gay and lesbian servicemembers discharged under DADT, and that the organization would continue to push for repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act that denies federal recognition to legally married same-sex couples.
“The countdown to repeal begins today!” Aubrey Sarvis, executive director of Servicemembers Legal Defense Network declared in a statement released by his organization. But Sarvis also warned gays and lesbians in the military that they are still at risk and that it is unsafe for them to come out until the ban is lifted in 60 days.
And Alexander Nicholson, executive director of Servicemembers United and himself a former Army intelligence collector who was discharged under DADT, called certification of repeal “nothing short of historic,” adding that “gay and lesbian servicemembers can and will breathe a huge sigh of relief” now.
But even as many LGBT rights advocates were exulting over certification of repeal of DADT, Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, earlier today issued a statement reminding advocates that the battle is not yet over: transgender and transsexual servicemembers still have to stay closeted or risk discharge.
“NCTE rejoices whenever discriminatory laws end, and ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ was a discriminatory law and it needed to go,” Keisling said. “However, as repeal is certified, transgender servicemembers continue serving in silence. NCTE looks forward to the day when the U.S. Armed Forces ends discrimination in all its forms,” Keisling said, adding a call for the Pentagon and the Obama administration to “address the gap” in DADT repeal.
1. All 823 couples who played the New York City marriage lottery have won! The lottery initially guaranteed only 764 slots on Sunday — the first day same-sex marriage will be legal in the Empire State. But NYC officials now say they’ll accommodate all couples who entered, although 74 who signed up to wed in Manhattan will have to travel to another borough. For more on the start of same-sex marriage in New York, check out Yonkers native David Taffet’s round-up from Thursday.
2. After 18 long years and some 15,000 discharges, the Pentagon and President Barack Obama are set to put the final nail in the coffin of “don’t ask, don’t tell” today. Obama, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, are expected to certify the repeal of DADT when they meet in the Oval Office this afternoon, which would begin a 60-day waiting period before the policy officially — and finally — comes to an end. According to our calendar, that means the big day will be Sept. 20, which happens to be just two days after Dallas Pride. Is it too late to change this year’s theme?
3. If not, perhaps they can just turn Pride into a retirement party for Texas Republican Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, who told MSNBC this morning that she objects to the Pentagon’s decision to certify DADT repeal. “I really don’t think we should be putting people who are in harm’s way, in very close quarters, in any kind of uncomfortable position,” Hutchison said. “I think it is not the right decision, but it’s a decision that’s been made.” Watch video from ThinkProgress below:
Even after DADT repeal is complete, DOMA will create discrepancy
JULIE WATSON | Associated Press
SAN DIEGO — Gay service members from Army soldiers to Air Force officers are planning to celebrate the official end of the military’s 17-year policy that forced them to hide their sexual orientation with another official act — marriage.
A 27-year-old Air Force officer from Ohio said he can’t wait to wed his partner of two years and slip on a ring that he won’t have to take off or lie about when he goes to work each day once “don’t ask, don’t tell” is repealed. He plans to wed his boyfriend, a federal employee, in Washington D.C. where same-sex marriages are legal.
He asked not to be identified, following the advice of the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, a national organization representing gay troops, including the Air Force officer, that has cautioned those on active duty from coming out until the ban is off the books.
“I owe it to him and myself,” the officer said of getting married. “I don’t want to do it in the dark. I think that taints what it’s supposed to be about — which is us, our families, and our government.”
But in the eyes of the military the marriage will not be recognized and the couple will still be denied most of the benefits the Defense Department gives to heterosexual couples to ease the costs of medical care, travel, housing and other living expenses.
The Pentagon says the 1996 federal Defense of Marriage Act — which defines marriage for federal program purposes as a legal union between a man and woman — prohibits the Defense Department from extending those benefits to gay couples, even if they are married legally in certain states.
That means housing allowances and off-base living space for gay service members with partners could be decided as if they were living alone. Base transfers would not take into account their spouses. If two gay service members are married to each other they may be transferred to two different states or regions of the world. For heterosexual couples, the military tries to avoid that from happening.
Gay activists and even some commanders say the discrepancy will create a two-tier system in an institution built on uniformity.
“It’s not going to work,” said Army Reserve Capt. R. Clarke Cooper, who heads up the Log Cabin Republicans, a gay rights group that sued the Justice Department to stop the enforcement of the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. “Taking care of our soldiers is necessary to ensure morale and unit cohesion. This creates a glaring stratification in the disbursement of support services and benefits.”
Cooper said he also plans to marry his boyfriend, a former Navy officer, in a post-repeal era.
Pentagon officials have said they believe the ban could be fully lifted soon. The military for now is not discharging anyone under the policy to comply with a federal appeals court ruling July 6 that ordered the government to immediately cease its enforcement. The Department of Justice has filed an emergency motion asking the court to reconsider its order, saying ending the ban now would pre-empt the “orderly process” for rolling back the policy as outlined in the law passed and signed by the president in December.
The military’s staunchly traditional, tight-knit society, meanwhile, has been quickly adapting to the social revolution: Many gay officers say they have already come out to their commanders and fellow troops, and now discuss their weekend plans without a worry.
The Air Force officer says he has dropped the code words “Red Solo Cups” — the red plastic cups used at parties — that he slipped into conversations for years to tell his partner he loved him when troops were within earshot. He now feels comfortable saying “I love you” on the phone, no longer fearful he will be interrogated by peers.
One male soldier, who also asked not to be identified, said after Congress approved repealing the law, he listed his boyfriend on his Army forms as his emergency contact and primary beneficiary of his military life insurance in case he dies in Afghanistan.
He said when he was transferred to South Korea, he and his partner had to pay for his partner’s move.
“But we were able to stay together,” the soldier wrote in an e-mail to The Associated Press from Afghanistan. “During the move, I realized I needed to make sure my partner in life was taken care of if something, the worst, ever happened to me, especially knowing I was about to deploy.”
The soldier said when he added his boyfriend’s name to the paperwork as a primary beneficiary and identified him as a friend, the non-commissioned officer in charge shut his office door and told him: “Unlike the inherent benefits to being married in the Army, such as housing and sustenance allowances, our life insurance and will don’t discriminate.”
Same-sex partners can be listed as the person to be notified in case a service member is killed, injured, or missing, but current regulations prevent anyone other than immediate family — not same-sex spouses — from learning the details of the death. Same-sex spouses also will not be eligible for travel allowances to attend repatriation ceremonies if their military spouses are killed in action.
Gay partners and spouses also will be denied military ID cards, which means they will not be allowed on base unless they are accompanied by a service member and they cannot shop at commissaries or exchanges that have reduced prices for groceries and clothing, nor can they be treated at a military medical facility. They also will be excluded from base programs providing recreation and other such kinds of support.
Military officials say some hardship cases may be handled on an individual basis. Activists warn such an approach will create an administrative nightmare and leave the military vulnerable to accusations of making inconsistent decisions that favor some and not others.
Military families enjoy assistance from the Defense Department to compensate for the hardship of having a mother or father or both deployed to war zones and moved frequently.
“It strains a relationship when you’re gone for over a year,” said Navy medical corpsman Andrew James, 27, who lived two years apart from his same-sex partner, who could not afford to move with him when he was transferred from San Diego to Washington. “But straight couples have support so their spouses are able to be taken care of, with financial issues, and also they are able to talk to the chain of command, whereas gays can’t. They don’t have any support at all financially or emotionally, and that is really devastating.”
He said he was lucky that his relationship survived and now that he is in the Reserves, they are together again in San Diego.
The benefits issue came up repeatedly during training sessions to prepare troops for the policy change.
“There are inconsistencies,” Maj. Daryl Desimone told a class of Marines at Camp Pendleton, north of San Diego, after being asked about benefits for gay military personnel. “Anyone who looks at it logically will see there are some things that need to be worked out in the future.”
1. The Dallas Morning News published its first-ever same-sex wedding announcements on Sunday. Two gay couples — Mark Reed and Dante Walkup (right), and James Kreidel and Mark Pierson — had announcements appear under Weddings in Sunday’s Celebrations section of The DMN (Page 11E). Reed and Walkup, who convinced the newspaper to publish same-sex weddings after filing a discrimination complaint with the city, were married in Washington, D.C., last year. Kreidel and Pierson were married in Massachusetts last year. Congrats to both couples.
2. In another head-spinning twist over “don’t ask, don’t tell,” a federal appeals court late Friday temporarily reinstated the policy but ordered the government not to use it to investigate, penalize or discharge anyone. On July 6, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco lifted its stay of a district judge’s ruling halting enforcement of DADT. But last week the Department of Justice asked the court to reimpose the stay, saying its removal could interfere with the orderly legislative repeal of the ban on open service. The appeals court on Friday agreed to reimpose the stay but blocked the Pentagon from discharging anyone under the policy. The military can, however, refuse to accept applications from openly gay recruits. The court gave the DOJ until today to submit additional arguments as to why the stay should remain in place.
3. As the legal maneuvering over DADT repeal continues, a contingent of active-duty military servicemembers marched in a gay Pride parade Saturday for what is believed to be the first time in U.S. history. About 200 active-duty troops, wearing T-shirts representing every service branch, marched in San Diego’s Pride parade. Watch video below.
1. A Houston judge on Thursday delayed a deportation hearing for a gay Costa Rican immigrant who’s fighting to stay in Texas with his husband. The judge delayed the proceeding for 35-year-old David Gonzalez until Aug. 31 based on a technicality, but also urged the two parties — Gonzalez’s attorney and U.S. immigration officials — to resolve the matter before then. Gonzalez married his husband, U.S. citizen Mario Ramirez, in California in 2008, but is unable to obtain a green card because of the Defense of Marriage Act. According to The Houston Chronicle, “The delay announced by the immigration judge Thursday means the couple will be able to celebrate the sixth anniversary of the day they met, Aug. 21, together without worrying that immigration agents will come knocking on their door.” Read more about the couple at Stop the Deportations: The DOMA Project.
2. The Obama administration has asked a federal appeals court to suspend its order from last week halting enforcement of “don’t ask, don’t tell.” In a brief filed Thursday, the U.S. Department of Justice asks the court to suspend the order by today, saying it wants to follow the timetable laid out in the DADT repeal act passed by Congress last year.
3. California Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill Thursday making the state the first in the country to require schools to teach students about the contributions of LGBT people. The bill also prohibits instruction that reflects adversely on people because of their sexual orientation.
1. After ordering a halt to enforcement of “don’t ask, don’t tell” last week, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Monday gave the Department of Justice 10 days to state whether it will continue to defend the policy’s constitutionality in a case brought by Log Cabin Republicans.
2. Scientists have discovered a new strain of gonorrhea that is totally resistant to antibiotics. “This is both an alarming and a predictable discovery,” lead researcher Magnus Unemo, professor at the Swedish Reference Laboratory for Pathogenic Neisseria in Örebro, Sweden, said in a statement. “Since antibiotics became the standard treatment for gonorrhea in the 1940s, this bacterium has shown a remarkable capacity to develop resistance mechanisms to all drugs introduced to control it.”
3. Christian counseling clinics owned by GOP presidential candidate Michele Bachmann and her husband have been conducting so-called “ex-gay” therapy, according to a report that aired on ABC’s Nightline on Monday night. In the wake of the report, Bachmann said she is “very proud” of the clinics and the jobs they’ve created, but refused to respond to the allegations about reparative therapy. Watch Nightline‘s report below.
“I was VERY happy to hear that. I’m not really sure about what will happen next. I hope that the president and justice department will leave it at this and not push it to the Supreme Court. This law has gone on entirely too long already. Why keep something hanging on by a thread that we know is so close to being over? It wouldn’t make any sense. But like I said before, I will not be satisfied until there is a full repeal. I have came out to most people in my unit. So I don’t think there will be too much of a change for me except that I won’t have the thought of discharge lingering over my head, and I won’t have to hide my partner (he isn’t currently open with his unit).”
2. New York City will open clerk’s offices in all five boroughs on a Sunday — July 24 — so same-sex couples can marry on the first day it’s legal, The New York Times reports. We kept waiting for the quote from some tea party homophobe about wasting tax dollars and defiling the Lord’s Day, but it never came.
3. Democratic Gov. Dannel Malloy signed a bill prohibiting workplace discrimination based on gender identity and expression on Wednesday, making Connecticut the 15th state to do so, Raw Story reports. As you can see from the map below, Texas remains one of about 30 states where you can still be legally fired for being gay or transgender. And let’s face it, that will never change until the federal Employment Non-Discrimination Act is passed. Speaking of which, where the hell is ENDA?
A federal appeals court has halted enforcement of “don’t ask don’t tell,” effective immediately.
A three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals issued a unanimous order today lifting a stay it had placed on an injunction handed down last year by U.S. District Judge Virginia Phillips, who declared the ban on open military service unconstitutional.
According to the appeals court’s order, DADT cannot be enforced unless and until the government gets a stay from either the 9th Circuit Court or the U.S. Supreme Court.
Congress voted to repeal DADT in December, but repeal has not yet been certified by the president, the defense secretary and the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff.
“Today’s decision by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals is most welcomed,” Servicemembers Legal Defense Network Executive Director Aubrey Sarvis said in a statement. “It’s the hope of Servicemembers Legal Defense Network that this favorable ruling will not be challenged by the Defense Department. In fact, this whole matter could have been avoided had we had certification back in the spring. It’s time to get on with that important certification, end the DADT confusion for all service members, and put a final end to this misguided policy.”
Alexander Nicholson, executive director of Servicemembers United, warned that despite today’s order, gay servicemembers should remain cautious about revealing their sexual orientation. “The issue remains in a state of flux, although guarded optimism is certainly warranted,” Nicholson said in a statement.
Although the appeals court lifted its stay of the injunction, it has not ruled on the merits of the case, Log Cabin Republicans vs. The United States. The court set arguments for Aug. 29.
In its order, the appeals court cited the Obama administration’s position that it’s unconstitutional to discriminate against gays, which was laid out in a court brief last week.
1. After a week of negotiations, the New York State Senate may finally vote today on Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s marriage equality bill. If the Senate doesn’t vote on the bill before it adjourns, it’s likely Cuomo would call a special session. Legislative leaders reportedly have agreed “conceptually” on language that would expand religious protections to satisfy some Republicans, but the amendments hadn’t been printed, so there was nothing to vote on Wednesday night. Meanwhile, President Barack Obama will speak at a gay campaign fundraiser today in Manhattan, and groups including GetEQUAL are planning a “A Demonstration for Full Equality” outside.
2. In a setback for those who’ve been defying the church’s ban on officiating same-sex weddings, a Methodist pastor was found guilty Wednesday of marrying a lesbian couple. A jury of 13 clergy members that unanimously convicted the Rev. Amy DeLong is expected to announce her punishment today, which could range from suspension to defrocking. DeLong was found not guilty of a second charge that she is a “self-avowed practicing homosexual,” after she declined to answer whether her relationship includes sexual contact.