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 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

Army Wants $2500 Back from Dan Choi Because He Was Discharged for Being Gay

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He's not paying it.

An open letter to Obama from Lt. Dan Choi, via email and Twitter:

Dear Mr. President:

Today I received a ,500 bill from your Defense Department Finance and Debt Services. Specifically, you claim payment for "the unearned portion" of my Army contract. Six months after my discharge under the Don't Ask Don't Tell policy I have tried to move forward with my life, and I was inspired by your clarion calls for our progress as one nation towards a more just society. I have served my country in combat and I have tried to live my life by the values I learned at West Point in continued service to our nation.  To move forward in my own life I have finally sought treatment for Combat Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Military Sexual Trauma (MST), Insomnia, and Depressive Disorder from the Veterans Affairs Department. But I still find myself on a domestic battlefield for basic dignity as an American citizen. I know I am not alone in this fight because of the desperate cries for help I get from discharged, unemployed, discriminated, and suicidal veterans. I have felt all of their same pains personally. Today I also witness the disgrace of a country that perpetually discovers methods to punish its own citizens for taking a moral stand.

By flagrantly and repeatedly violating an immoral law, I have flagrantly and repeatedly saluted the honor of America's promise. At West Point, when we recited the Cadet Prayer we reminded ourselves "always to choose the harder right over the easier wrong." It would be easy to pay the 00 bill and be swiftly done with this diseased chapter of my life, where I sinfully deceived and tolerated self-hatred under Don't Ask Don't Tell.  Many thousands have wrestled with their responsibilities and expedient solutions when confronted with issues of this magnitude. I understand you also wrestle with issues of our equality. But I choose to cease wrestling, to cease the excuses, to cease the philosophical grandstanding and ethical gymnastics of political expediency in the face of moral duty. My obligations to take a stand, knowing all the continued consequences of my violations, are clear.

I refuse to pay your claim. 

Respectfully,

Dan Choi

Former Army First Lieutenant

West Point Class of 2003


Towleroad News #gay

—  admin

Discharged sailor Tim Beauchamp: My Reaction to the Overturning of DADT

Note from Joe: Tim served for four years in the US Navy. He was discharged from the Navy for being gay in 1988. That was even before the DADT law took effect. An August 2001 AP article, which can be read here, explained provided details on Tim’s military career and discharge while noting how one of Tim’s poems was included in a Smithsonian exhibit on Submarines the Cold War.
________________________
I was asked to speak at my faith community, yesterday, regarding the overturning of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. I shared my story of serving as Protestant Lay Reader on submarines, and my outing and discharge just in case those in attendance were unaware of my history. I then added:

I heard someone claim on a cable news network that as a member of the LGBT community that this repeal is a small step where they felt just a little more equal today as an American citizen. I respectfully disagree with that particular take. What has happened can not be underestimated. It is huge. Our enemies have used that particular argument that gays can not serve alongside straight troops to effectively argue against the recognition of our equality and civil rights. We have also learned, as a community, that even though we have been promised by our friends to work on our behalf that we can not afford, for one moment, to allow them to rest on those promises alone. Action must be demanded in order for our friends to be motivated to follow through on those promises.

Yesterday was a great day for us in the history of the civil rights movement for the LGBT community. Yesterday was just one step on our march to recognition of our full equality. Yesterday was just the beginning but yesterday, was absolutely huge in our struggle! Mark yesterday as the beginning of the end of institutionalized discrimination by our government towards our LGBT community. Our enemies know this, as evidenced by McCain’s meltdown, and we know this. We must use take this win and inertia provided to move us forward to full inclusion in the promises enshrined in our constitution.

I have to thank John and Joe for providing me this forum as a writer for AMERICAblog Gay, and allowing me to be part of this change in my small way. It takes every single one of us to achieve these victories.




AMERICAblog Gay

—  admin

More Discharged Service Member File Suit in Ninth Circuit

More Discharged Service Member File Suit in Ninth Circuit

Today, three highly decorated service members discharged under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT) filed suit in federal district court seeking re-instatement and challenging the constitutionality of DADT.  In their complaint, which was filed before a Ninth Circuit district court in California, the three plaintiffs assert that the military bears the burden of proving that the sexual orientation of each discharged service member had a negative impact on the military.  The complaint states that if the military cannot fulfill this burden, the three plaintiffs should be re-instated in their respective branches and provided credit toward retirement for the period they were unconstitutionally discharged.

A similar argument was asserted before a different Ninth Circuit district court earlier this year in Witt v. Air Force.  The district court in Witt determine that the military failed to prove that Major Margaret Witt’s sexual orientation had a negative impact on the military, and provided for her re-instatement in the Air Force.  Also, occurring only months ago, a different Ninth Circuit district court declared DADT unconstitutional in Log Cabin Republicans v. United States.  The litigation in each of these decisions is ongoing, but illustrates the rise of litigation regarding DADT – particularly in the Ninth Circuit.

Earlier this year, the President expressed his support for repealing DADT and the House passed repeal legislation.  However, only last week, the Senate failed to take action on the Defense Authorization bill, which contained language that would lead to a repeal DADT.  Until Congress moves forward to legislatively repeal DADT, discharged service members are likely to continue to bring suits challenging the constitutionality of DADT and DADT discharges.

HRC applauds plaintiffs Mike Almy, Anthony Loverde, and Jason Knight  for their courage in challenging the DADT law, as well as Servicemembers Legal Defense Network and Morrison & Foerster LLP for filing this suit on behalf of the plaintiffs.


Human Rights Campaign | HRC Back Story

—  admin

More Discharged Service Member File Suit in Ninth Circuit

More Discharged Service Member File Suit in Ninth Circuit

Today, three highly decorated service members discharged under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT) filed suit in federal district court seeking re-instatement and challenging the constitutionality of DADT.  In their complaint, which was filed before a Ninth Circuit district court in California, the three plaintiffs assert that the military bears the burden of proving that the sexual orientation of each discharged service member had a negative impact on the military.  The complaint states that if the military cannot fulfill this burden, the three plaintiffs should be re-instated in their respective branches and provided credit toward retirement for the period they were unconstitutionally discharged.

A similar argument was asserted before a different Ninth Circuit district court earlier this year in Witt v. Air Force.  The district court in Witt determine that the military failed to prove that Major Margaret Witt’s sexual orientation had a negative impact on the military, and provided for her re-instatement in the Air Force.  Also, occurring only months ago, a different Ninth Circuit district court declared DADT unconstitutional in Log Cabin Republicans v. United States.  The litigation in each of these decisions is ongoing, but illustrates the rise of litigation regarding DADT – particularly in the Ninth Circuit.

Earlier this year, the President expressed his support for repealing DADT and the House passed repeal legislation.  However, only last week, the Senate failed to take action on the Defense Authorization bill, which contained language that would lead to a repeal DADT.  Until Congress moves forward to legislatively repeal DADT, discharged service members are likely to continue to bring suits challenging the constitutionality of DADT and DADT discharges.

HRC applauds plaintiffs Mike Almy, Anthony Loverde, and Jason Knight  for their courage in challenging the DADT law, as well as Servicemembers Legal Defense Network and Morrison & Foerster LLP for filing this suit on behalf of the plaintiffs.


Human Rights Campaign | HRC Back Story

—  admin

Department of Justice Appeals Judge’s Order That Lesbian Nurse Margaret Witt, Discharged Under DADT, Be Reinstated

The Department of Justice late this afternoon appealed a September ruling ordering the Air Force to reinstate lesbian flight nurse Margaret Witt, who was suspended in 2004, and ultimately discharged under the 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' policy.

The WaPo reports: Witt

"U.S. District Judge Ronald Leighton in Tacoma ruled in September that Maj. Margaret Witt's dismissal under the military's 'don't ask, don't tell' policy violated her rights. Witt was suspended in 2004 and subsequently discharged after the Air Force learned she had been in a long-term relationship with a civilian woman. She sued to get her job back. The Justice Department filed the appeal with the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday, the deadline for doing so. The government is also appealing a ruling from a federal judge in California that found the "don't ask, don't tell" policy unconstitutional."

The government, however, did not ask the court to stay the decision, suggesting that Witt may serve during the appeal.

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs released the following statement:

“Today, the Department of Justice filed a notice of appeal in a case involving a legal challenge to the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT) policy, as the Department traditionally does when acts of Congress have been held unconstitutional.  This filing in no way diminishes the President’s — and his Administration’s — firm commitment to achieving a legislative repeal of DADT this year.  Indeed, it clearly shows why Congress must act to end this misguided policy.  In recent weeks, the President and other Administration officials have been working with the Senate to move forward with the passage of the National Defense Authorization Act, including a repeal of DADT, during the lame duck.”


Towleroad News #gay

—  admin

Discharged vet Joseph Rocha talks DADT

Our friend, Joseph Rocha, who was a witness in the LCR DADT case, spoke about the issue on a San Diego t.v. station. He’s a great spokesperson — and he still wants to serve his country.




AMERICAblog Gay

—  admin

Discharged Gay vet refused re-enlistment despite lack of DADT law

As of this morning, the Department of Justice hasn’t sought a stay of the DADT injunction. We’re expecting it. The White House has been telegraphing it.

The New York Times has a great article on the history of the Log Cabin Republicans lawsuit against DADT. It was an improbable quest, but they prevailed. And, the piece quoted the named plaintiff in the case, our friend Alex Nicholson:

“We have been surprised at every stage of this,” said Alexander Nicholson, a member of the Log Cabin Republicans and a former Army intelligence specialist who was discharged because of the policy. “We thought the judge would follow every other pattern the other judges have followed: deference to the military.”…

…“The fact that she did not dismiss the case was a huge surprise,” Mr. Nicholson said. “Then she continued to surprise us.”

Then, there was this interesting development at the end of the piece. In the wake of the decision, a discharged Vet, joined by GetEQUAL, tried to re-enlist:

But with the ultimate fate of the “don’t ask, don’t tell” rule still unclear, some celebrations are being delayed.

With a briefcase full of commendations under his arm, Omar Lopez walked into an Austin, Tex., recruiting office Wednesday. Mr. Lopez, 29, had served nearly five years in the Navy. He was honorably discharged in 2006 for “homosexual admission,” according to documents he carried. He wanted to re-enlist.

But recruiters turned him away hastily, saying they had no knowledge of any injunction or any change in military policy.

“I like the civilian world, but I miss it,” Mr. Lopez said of the military, as he arrived with a worker for Get Equal, a gay rights advocacy group. “I feel lost without it.”




AMERICAblog Gay

—  John Wright

Senator Webb gets a visit from DADT repeal activists and discharged service members

(Sorry I was slow getting this up; this mini-flu bug had me flat out most of the week)

During his 2006 campaign for the United States Senate, Senator Jim Webb wore his son Jimmy’s old pair of combat boots on the campaign trail every day. Senator Webb said he wore the boots in tribue to his son, Jimmy, and in tribute of “all the people sent into harm’s way”.

And that set the stage for today’s protest by GetEQUAL, The Sanctuary Project and H.E.R.O. to point out that the Senator needs to support repeal of DADT. (GetEqual):

“Senator Webb wore combat boots on the campaign trail every day in 2006 for, as the Senator said, ALL servicemembers serving their country. We are here today to remind Senator Webb that all servicemembers includes the thousands of gay and lesbian servicemembers sacrificing their safety and security by serving honorably in our country’s armed forces,” said Robin McGehee, co-founder and director of GetEQUAL. “We honor Senator Webb’s direct action in 2006, to show his deep committment and passion for his son and others defending our country. We have organized this action in solidarity with that vision, because we want the Senator to truly honor the service of gay and lesbian servicemembers by fully supporting the passage of the Defenese Authorization Act next week, which contains language to further the repeal of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’.”

“As a Semper Fi, former Marine, I’m here today to tell Senator Webb that these combat boots I’ve worn in service to our country look just like his sons and everyone else’s combat boots serving in the United States Armed Forces,” said Cpl. Evelyn Thomas, a veteran of the United States Marine Corps. “In the line of duty, there are not differences because we are all Americans and we are all putting our lives on the line in service to our country. Senator Webb, your service to this country is appreciated and honored. Next week, you have an opportunity to show me and my brothers and sisters that our service is equally appreciated and honored by you.”

“Jim Webb is Senator Jim Webb because of the gay and lesbian support he received during his 2006 campaign,” said Jimmy Gruender, co-chair of H.E.R.O. “Because of our community’s work to put him into office and the calls and stories we here every day about how this law has affected gay and lesbian servicmembers, many from Senator Webb’s own home state of Virginia, prompted us to do this action today. Senator Webb, the LGBT community stood by you when you needed us. Now, we expect you to stand by us when we need you!”

A November 17th, 2006 article in the Advocate stated, “The effort to defeat Virginia’s proposed constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage apparently pulled thousands of progressive voters out to the polls, sending Democrat James Webb to the U.S. Senate by the thinnest of margins and handing the upper chamber to the Democrats for the next two years.”

Those servicemembers and advocates taking part in today’s action are:

Veteran Cpl. Evelyn Thomas, United States Marine Corps

Veteran Capt. James Pietrangelo II, United States Army

Veteran Sn. Jose A. Rodriguez, United States Navy

Veteran Lt. Dan Choi, United States Army

Linda Sanders, Sanctuary Project Veterans

Michael Dixon, GetEQUAL

Heather Cronk, GetEQUAL

Melissa Halverson, H.E.R.O.

Paul Roark, H.E.R.O.

Erica Keppler, H.E.R.O.

Marilee Cornelius, H.E.R.O.

Jonathan Harris, H.E.R.O.

Mandee Rowley, H.E.R.O.

Meg Sneed, H.E.R.O.

James Gruender, H.E.R.O.

Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

—  John Wright