Local gay vet: Time to regroup, refuel, attack again on DADT

Veterans and active servicemembers express outrage and frustration but will use this time to regroup

John Wright  |  Online Editor wright@dallasvoice.com

Dave Guy-Gainer
Dave Guy-Gainer

Gay current and former servicemembers from North Texas expressed frustration and outrage over this week’s vote in the U.S. Senate that halted progress on a repeal of “don’t ask don’t tell.”

But they vowed to continue fighting the military’s 17-year-old ban on open service, in hopes the Senate will take up the measure again during the lame duck session that follows November elections.

The Senate voted 56-43 on Tuesday, Sept. 21 to move forward with debate on the 2011 Defense spending bill that includes a provision to repeal DADT, but the margin fell short of the 60 votes needed to overcome a Republican-led filibuster.

Dave Guy-Gainer, a retired Air Force chief master sergeant from Tarrant County and a board member for the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, chalked up Tuesday’s vote as a lost battle, but said the war won’t end until the policy is history.

“Now is the time to regroup, refuel and attack again,” Gainer said. “We’ll see this scenario again in December and again and again until repeal happens. It will happen. Between now and then, the voices of our community and our allies must become louder and more incessant than ever before. This is not a political issue — this is a discrimination issue. After 17 years we cannot give up now. We are still alive in the Senate and in the courts.”

Two weeks before the Senate vote, a federal district judge in California declared DADT unconstitutional, but the U.S.

Justice Department, which is defending the policy, hasn’t said whether it will appeal the ruling.

Meanwhile, a Pentagon review of the impact of DADT repeal is due Dec. 1.

Kevin, an active-duty gay Marine from North Texas whose name is being withheld to protect him from being outed under DADT, called on  President Barack Obama to issue an executive order ending discharges under DADT until the policy can be repealed — either legislatively or judicially.

Currently stationed overseas, Kevin is a member of OutServe, an underground network of actively serving LGBT troops. Kevin’s partner is also on active duty.

“This was a huge letdown, and has made me just about completely lose faith in our government,” Kevin said of Tuesday’s vote. “But we at OutServe are standing by our word, we are not going to give up the fight.

“I would also encourage the American public to still stay on their congressmen and senators, call them and tell them to repeal this unjust policy,” Kevin said. “This is human lives that this policy is affecting.”

Danny Hernandez, a former Marine from Tarrant County who was discharged under DADT and now works with SLDN, said he was in the Senate gallery when Tuesday’s vote took place.

“The Senate continues to play games with the lives of thousands of servicemembers,” said Hernandez, a graduate of Texas A&M University who hopes to one day return to the Marines. “There were GOP senators who voted not to represent their constituents, but to follow party lines even though they support the repeal of DADT. A vote against the bill is one thing, but a vote against the opportunity to bring it up for debate is shameful.

“I am remaining optimistic and hoping that this will pass during the lame duck session at the end of the year,” Hernandez added. “It would be nice to see politics placed aside as well as for the support of all our men and women in uniform.”

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 24, 2010.

—  Kevin Thomas

Closeted gay Marine from North Texas reacts to DADT vote: ‘I was absolutely outraged. I still am’

A while back we interviewed a gay Marine from North Texas who is a member of OutServe, the underground network of actively serving LGBT troops. We sent the Marine a message Tuesday afternoon inquiring about his reaction to the Senate vote that halted the repeal of “don’t ask don’t tell.” Here’s his response:

“When I heard the news, I was absolutely outraged. I still am,” he said. “This was a huge letdown, and has made me just about completely lose faith in our government. But we as OutServe are standing by our word, we are not going to give up the fight. We will be here fighting until every servicemember has equal rights. We aren’t going anywhere. This is a setback, but it’s not the end of the fight. Now I would urge President Obama to stand up and do what is right: Issue an executive order to stop discharges until the final review is over in December. I would also encourage the American public to still stay on their congressmen and senators, call them and tell them to repeal this unjust policy. This is human lives that this policy is affecting.”

—  John Wright

Gender, Race Still Influence DADT Discharges

DADT PENTAGON X390 (PHOTOS.COM) | ADVOCATE.COMThough advocates for the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell” are already aware
that racial minorities and women tend to be discharged under the law at a
higher rate than white males, a new study shows the numbers for these
groups are on the increase.
Advocate.com: Daily News

—  John Wright

Biden on Maddow: VP blames politics for WH inability to stop DADT discharges before full repeal

The VP was on The Rachel Maddow Show Wed. night and seemed confident the DefAuth bill was going to pass the Senate and start the DADT repeal process. At least Biden has the stones to flat out say that the current discharges of qualified, trained and ready gay and lesbian service members is due to politics. Via Igor at The Wonk Room, the transcript:

MADDOW: In terms of the timing of that, if that goes as you say it’s possible that it could go. If that repeal happens, the timing is that the Defense Department is studying the issue through December. They’ve got another, I think, 60 days or something that they- after which they would have to delay any repeal process. So, we’d be looking at, best-case scenario for repeal, would be sometime in the spring. With the policy under such intense scrutiny, that study underway at the Defense Department, progress being made both in the courts and politically, why not suspend the discharges of people under the policy now, pending that Defense Department review? Why keep kicking people out now while all of this movement is happening towards ending the policy?

BIDEN: Because that is the compromise we basically had to make to get the votes to finally repeal it. In other words, everybody’s looking for, in my view, if I could just wave a wand, it would just be flat repeal. No one else would be able to suspend it. And everyone who was suspended would be able to come back if they wanted to. But the truth of the matter is, we had to build a consensus for this. Working very hard on the telephone. Calling people. And everybody’s looking forward to the orderly elimination of this law. I would prefer it not be orderly. I prefer it just end, boom, done. But that’s why that hasn’t happened. It’s resulted in us getting over 55 votes, I think we’ll get 55 vote, to flat repeal it.

Surf over to see the video.
Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

—  John Wright