New BSA president is former Secretary of Defense who helped end DADT

Robert.Gates

Former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates will be the new president of the Boy Scouts of America National Executive Board, the BSA announced Wednesday.

Gates, an Eagle Scout, will serve as an executive vice president and national president-elect upon the approval of the National Council in May. After the council’s approval, he would serve a two-year term as the BSA national president and lead the National Executive Board, which guides the BSA as it serves approximately 2.6 million youth members.

“There is no finer program for preparing American boys for citizenship and leadership than the Boy Scouts of America,” Gates said in a statement. “As an Eagle Scout, I know firsthand how impactful this program can be, and I believe its mission is more important today than ever before. I am honored to take on this role and look forward to working on behalf of the millions of youth and adult members who make Scouting what it is today — an organization providing life-changing opportunities to today’s youth.”

As Secretary of Defense, Gates helped oversee the repeal of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy that banned openly gay military members. The choice is an interesting one for the Irving-based organization, which has a storied past of discriminating against openly gay Scouts and volunteers. In May, the national council voted to allow openly gay Scouts, but not adult leaders.

Gates has a long history with the BSA, having served as a past member of the National Executive Board, past president of the National Eagle Scout Association and being awarded the Silver Buffalo Award, the highest commendation given by the BSA for extraordinary service to youth, and a Vigil Honor member of the Order of the Arrow, the highest mark of distinction and recognition for those with exceptional service and unselfish interests.

—  Dallasvoice

My favorite image of the summer

Favorite image

There always a lot of good photos to enjoy over the course of a year, but perhaps my favorite — and certainly of the summer — is this one from the Associated Press, which says so much with so little. (It also reminds me of another iconic photo, which you can see after the jump.)

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Iconic LGBT activist Ray Hill files for Texas House seat

Ray Hill

Ray Hill

Long time Houston LGBT activist Ray Hill filed paperwork this week to run for the 147th Texas House seat against incumbent Garnet Coleman, D – Houston. The iconic (and iconoclastic) Hill said that he and Coleman agree on many issues but that he had “some issues  that aren’t on the table in Austin.”

Specifically Hill has concerns with the legislature’s approach to criminal justice issues. “The Texas legislature is a serial world class red-necking competition,” says Hill. “What they are doing on criminal justice is wrong and it doesn’t work… we need a serious rethink.”

Coleman has a strong history of supporting LGBT legislation. For the last three sessions he has attempted to pass anti-bullying legislation that would require school districts to report instances of bullying using an enumerated list of motivating characteristics that include both sexual orientation and gender identity and expression, he has also filed legislation to remove the the crime of “homosexual conduct” from the Texas penal code (a law that has been declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court), to equalize age of consent laws in Texas and to add gender identity and expression to the state’s hate crime law. In the 82nd legislature earlier this year Coleman authored seven pieces of legislation designed to create greater equality for LGBT people, including the first ever filing of legislation to standardize change of gender marker procedures for the transgender community and the first effort to repeal the state’s constitutional prohibition against marriage equality.

Hill recognizes Coleman’s historic contributions, “The incumbent and I agree on a lot of issues,” says Hill, “but we don’t tell young gay people ‘if you work real hard and go to school and do your best you can grow up to have straight friends in Austin who like you.’ No, we tell them ‘if you work hard they can grow up to be Mayor of Houston, or City Supervisor of San Francisco.’”

When asked why the community would be better served by him than Coleman, a 20 year legislative veteran, Hill replies “I understand how government works. A freshman legislator can’t do anything more than irritate, but that’s about all any member of the minority party can do. On that level the incumbent and I are on the same level… I think we need somebody obnoxious [in the legislature] who’s going to purposefully rub the cat hair the wrong direction.”

Since being elected to the legislature for the first time in 1992 Coleman has been unopposed in 5 of his 9 primary reelection bids. No primary challenger to Coleman has pulled more than 21% of the vote.

—  admin

What’s Brewing: Gates may certify DADT repeal this month; GOP debate touches on LGBT issues

Defense Secretary Robert Gates

Your weekday morning blend from Instant Tea:

1. Defense Secretary Robert Gates told the Associated Press he may certify the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell” before stepping down at the end of this month, which could allow the ban on open service to end sometime in September. Gates said he will certify DADT repeal this month only if all of the service chiefs recommend it. If not, it will be left to his successor, Leon Panetta.

2. Republican presidential candidates responded to questions about both same-sex marriage and DADT repeal during their debate Monday night in New Hampshire. Watch their responses below, but here’s our takeaway: If Texas Gov. Rick Perry decides to seek the GOP nomination, he’ll have a hard time setting himself apart from other major candidates based on his anti-gay views.

3. What’s with the straight men posing as lesbians in the blogosphere?

—  John Wright

What’s Brewing: Airman discharged under DADT; Dallas makes list of ‘surprising’ gay places

Your weekday morning blend from Instant Tea:

1. A member of the Air Force was discharged under “don’t ask, don’t tell” in April, the first discharge since President Barack Obama signed a bill to repeal the ban on open service in December. Aubrey Sarvis, executive director of the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, said: “This discharge underscores the need for the President, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs and the Secretary of Defense to certify ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ repeal and put this ugly chapter in American history behind us. It also highlights the undeniable and unfortunate fact that service members remain under investigation and at risk of discharge.”

2. Three activists from GetEQUAL, including former Senate candidate Jim Neal, were arrested Thursday during a protest at the Capitol in North Carolina targeting a state constitutional amendment that would ban same-sex marriage. Watch video from the action below.

3. Dallas appears at No. 6 on AlterNet’s list of “6 Surprising Places It’s Great To Be Gay.” We’re not sure some of the places on the list, including Dallas and Atlanta, should be all that much of a surprise to anyone. But here’s the conclusion from AlterNet’s Heather Cronk: “Make no mistake – Dallas isn’t a queer utopia and there is still a real need for conversations along the lines of race and class. But the city’s gay bar culture is one of the most vibrant and most diverse in the country.”

—  John Wright

Breaking News: DADT update

Over on the main page, we’ve posted a very important, comprehensive update from Lisa Keen on the status of the repeal of “don’t ask don’t tell.” Read it by going here.

—  John Wright

Pelosi vows votes on ENDA, DADT this year

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi

We couldn’t squeeze it into this week’s print edition, but over on the main page we’ve posted an update from Lisa Keen on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act and the repeal of “don’t ask don’t tell.” Read it by going here.

—  John Wright

"Telephone" — The Afghanistan remake

Found this online and just had to share.

It’s a remake of Lady Gaga’s and Beyonce’s “Telephone” video. Well, looks more like a re-interpretation than remake. But either way, it’s a blast.

—  admin

Marine discharged under DADT to President Barack Obama: 'Please be faithful to me'

LCpl. Danny Hernandez
Lance Cpl. Danny Hernandez

Well we missed a few days, but better late than never right? On Monday the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network launched a new media campaign called, “Stories from the Frontlines: Letters to President Barack Obama,” which aims to underscore the urgent need to repeal “don’t ask, don’t tell.” From SLDN’s press release about the series.

Every weekday morning as we approach the markup of the Defense Authorization bill in the Senate and House Armed Services Committees, SLDN and a coalition of voices supporting repeal, will share an open letter to the President from a person impacted by this discriminatory law.  We are urging the President to include repeal in the Administration’s defense budget recommendations, but also to voice his support as we work to muster the 15 critical votes needed on the Senate Armed Services Committee to include repeal.”

Which brings us to today’s letter, part three of the 16-part series. It comes from Lance Cpl. Danny Hernandez, a former Marine discharged nine weeks ago after being outed by a third party. Below is a snippet from the letter, and I’ve posted the full text after the jump. To read previous letters, go here.

“Upon earning the title of Marine, I took an oath and vowed to “defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.” This enemy is a domestic one, and with your direction as Commander and Chief, this is a war in which we can be victorious.

“‘Semper Fidelis’ is the Marine Corps motto meaning “Always Faithful.” Not only am I willing and anxious to go overseas, but I am prepared to pay the ultimate sacrifice in order to protect our freedoms.

“I have remained faithful to my country; please be faithful to me.”


—  John Wright

What Jim Moran says about DADT

U.S. Rep. Jim Moran, D-Va.
U.S. Rep. Jim Moran, D-Va.

I just got an e-mail from someone in the congressional office of U.S. Rep. Jim Moran, a Democrat from Virginia, including the transcript of Rep. Moran’s remarks on the floor of the House today regarding the U.S. military’s anti-gay “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy.

Here you go:

“Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I rise today to share the substance of an e-mail from an active duty soldier in Afghanistan. In response to an inquiry from his commanding officer related to the military’s review of ‘Don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy, the soldier shared how he and his partner of 10 years have managed multiple deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan. He explained that they survive like any couple does except because of the ‘Don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy, his partner would not be informed in the event of his death and could not make any emergency decision that is would normally fall to a spouse.

“This situation is typical, even within his unit. He learned that a fellow soldier was also gay, only after he was killed by an IED in Iraq. The partner of the deceased soldier wrote the unit to say how much the victim had loved the military; how they were the only family he had ever known.

“Admiral Mullen said this issue is a matter of integrity. This immutable human trait, sexual orientation, like the color of one’s skin, does not affect one’s integrity, their honor, our commitment to their country. Soldiers serving their country in combat should not have their sacrifices compounded by having to struggle with an antiquated ‘Don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy. Let’s do the right and honorable thing and repeal this policy.”

Well, let me just say, thanks Rep. Moran. I hope that your fellow members of Congress pay attention to what you said. This isn’t about keeping gays and lesbians out of the military; gays and lesbians are already there, in every branch of the armed services, serving with courage and honor.

The push to repeal DADY is, instead, about fully recognizing the service and sacrifice of the soldiers, of the families who support them and sacrifice for them, too. It’s about honoring these honorable men and women by allowing them to serve openly and without fear.

—  admin