SLDN issues letter to Secretary Gates requesting Special Boards

Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN) has done remarkable work in assisting gay veterans in the past and continues to defend us by issuing a letter to Secretary Gates requesting that special boards be created in order to assist those of us who were unfairly discharged for being gay.

There are myriad injustices those of us who were discharged for being gay faced, and this letter attempts to address those problems with the creation of special boards.

Personally, I remember just how horrible, and mentally stressful, it was to have to provide any future employer with my DD-214 discharge papers that read, “Member stated he or she was a homosexual or bisexual.” It was like asking for a job while wearing a big “Scarlet A” on my chest. Fortunately, for me, I finally came across a Court Clerk for the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in the Northern District of Oklahoma who said, “You know what? I happen to be a very progressive Democrat and THAT is nobody’s business! Besides, I like you and I need your technical skills to help us build our computer network.” I still consider that woman, Dorothy Evans, somewhat of a Fairy Godmother to me. Mind you, this was back in the pre-”Will and Grace” dark ages, so I owe a lot to her. I think the special boards that would be setup to provide redress for us is an excellent idea. So, will the Obama administration do this?




AMERICAblog Gay

—  David Taffet

Gay Super Bowl block party called a success

Scott Whittall warms up the crowd at the Super Street Party.

Maybe the gays in Dallas are capable of pulling off a Super Bowl party after all.

Although a gay-themed concert planned for the Cotton Bowl on Thursday night was canceled due to poor ticket sales, organizers of Saturday night’s block party on Cedar Springs are deeming it a success. (To view a slideshow from the party, go here.)

Scott Whittall, president of the Cedar Springs Merchants Association, said while the closed-down street itself wasn’t overly crowded during the event, the clubs were extremely busy and some were at capacity.

“The turnout was huge, but it’s hard for us to get a head count because everybody kept running in and out of the clubs to get warm,” Whittall said, adding that attendance was definitely in the thousands. “I think if they all would have been able to stay outside, I think we would have seen a street full of people. There was no question they were down here, they were just in an out all night long. They were flooding through those gates.”

Whittall said organizers of the Super Street Party — billed as the world’s first-ever gay Super Bowl block party — were “freaking out” on Thursday and Friday because they weren’t sure if the weather would clear.

“They had altered the forecast I don’t know how many times for Saturday,” he said. “We didn’t know what to expect, especially with all that snow and ice on the ground Friday. But it all worked out. I don’t even think there was a patch of ice left on Cedar Springs. Everything was set up in time. It went off great.

“We’re definitely deeming it a success, especially compared to a lot of the party debacles that were out there last week in the straight community. I heard that a lot of the parties around town were not well attended,” Whittall said. “We had the luxury of the fact that we have a ton of huge clubs around us where people can go and get warm. There was always a pretty good crowd around the stage. In a warmer weather situation, we will definitely set the street up like that again.”

—  John Wright

Update from Gates and Mullen on DADT repeal progress

So far, sounds promising.

SEC. GATES: Well, everything having to do with the FY ’12 budget will go through the regular congressional budget process. So a lot of these program changes that I talked about clearly will have to — have to go through them.

Q: (Off mic) — “don’t ask, don’t tell,” it’s been a few weeks since the repeal. Can you give us an update on how anything has proceeded since then, given the promise was no foot-dragging?

SEC. GATES: Yeah. Our goal here is to — is to move as quickly but as responsibly as possible. I see this as a — as a three-step process. The first is to finalize changes in regulations, policies, get clearer definition on benefits.

The second phase is to then prepare the training materials for use first of all with the experts, if you will, the personnel people, the chaplains, the judge advocate generals; and second, the leaders, commanders; and then third, the troops. So there’s the policy piece, the training — preparation piece, and then the actual training.

We’re trying to get the first two phases of that process done as quickly as possible. My hope is that it can be done within a matter of a very few weeks so that we can then move on to what is the real challenge, which is providing training to 2.2 million people.

And we will — we will do that as expeditiously as we can. But as the — to use the term the chairman’s used, there’s just a certain element of physics associated with the number of people involved in this process.

But we are moving it as — and I have asked Under Secretary [Cliff] Stanley to accelerate the first two phases of this process as much as he possibly can so that we can get on with the training process. I was very struck by one of the chief’s comments that it’s better to — better to do this sooner rather than later. So we’re kind of approaching it with that — with that philosophy in mind.

ADM. MULLEN: The only thing I’d add is, just to remind, you know, the law has not changed, won’t until it is certified; and there’s 60 days after certification. And so now is not — from my perspective, you know, now is not the time to “come out,” if you will. We’ll get through this. We’ll do it deliberately. We certainly are focused on this. And we won’t — we won’t dawdle.




AMERICAblog Gay

—  admin

Video: We were just thinking Minaj and Gates should collaborate on something

mtvU has chosen a man and woman of the year, with opposition to homophobia serving as connective tissue between the two honorees:






Good As You

—  admin

Chairman of Jt Chiefs Mullen clearly sees DADT legislation as ‘repeal’; Gates however…

Statement by Adm. Mike Mullen on Senate Vote to Repeal ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’

“I am pleased to see the Congress vote to repeal the law governing ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.’ Handling this through legislation preserves the military’s prerogative to implement change in a responsible, deliberate manner.

“More critically, it is the right thing to do. No longer will able men and women who want to serve and sacrifice for their country have to sacrifice their integrity to do so. We will be a better military as a result.

“I look forward to working with Secretary Gates and the Service chiefs as we set about the task of preparing and certifying the joint force to implement the new law. And I am committed to making sure that process is well-led, maintains our combat readiness and upholds our high standards.”

Then there’s Gates’ statement. Note the part about how they’re going to continue implementing the law. That’s ridiculous. Leave it to Gates to ruin Obama’s day of victory, and ours.

Statement by Secretary Robert Gates on Senate Vote to Repeal ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’

“I welcome today’s vote by the Senate clearing the way for a legislative repeal of the ‘Don’t Ask Don’t Tell’ law.

“Once this legislation is signed into law by the President, the Department of Defense will immediately proceed with the planning necessary to carry out this change carefully and methodically, but purposefully. This effort will be led by Dr. Clifford Stanley, Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness and himself a retired Marine Corps major general and infantry officer.

“The legislation provides that repeal will take effect once the President, the Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff certify that implementation of the new policies and regulations written by the Department is consistent with the standards of military readiness, military effectiveness, unit cohesion, and recruiting and retention of the Armed Forces. As I have stated before, I will approach this process deliberately and will make such certification only after careful consultation with the military service chiefs and our combatant commanders and when I am satisfied that those conditions have been met for all the Services, commands and units.

“It is therefore important that our men and women in uniform understand that while today’s historic vote means that this policy will change, the implementation and certification process will take an additional period of time. In the meantime, the current law and policy will remain in effect.

“Successful implementation will depend upon strong leadership, a clear message and proactive education throughout the force. With a continued and sustained commitment to core values of leadership, professionalism and respect for all, I am convinced that the U.S. military can successfully accommodate and implement this change, as it has others in history.”

It’s going to be pretty darn embarrassing if they keep kicking people out, and keep defending DADT in court, after the repeal mandate is signed.




AMERICAblog Gay

—  admin

Sec Def Gates laments that Congress likely won’t repeal DADT this year

STFU. I’ve seriously had enough of that idiot. It’s his fault that we’re still even talking about DADT, because he wanted a study, and he wanted the study to be finished AFTER the elections, blah blah blah. And the President gave in to every single demand. And now, Gates is lamenting that Congress – get that, CONGRESS – may stop DADT from being repealed.

Spare us the crocodile tears.

If this DADT compromise isn’t passed in the next few weeks, it’s all going to be on Barack Obama’s head for deciding to wait until 2010, and then deciding to cave to his Secretary of Defense over and over again.

As I mention below, Senator Reid has his own share of blame in this ongoing fiasco (as do HRC and all of the apologists). But in the end, repeal of DADT was one man’s promise, the President’s. And it’s increasingly looking like he blew it again.




AMERICAblog Gay

—  admin

Gates caves to religious right, orders investigation of DADT Study leak

Let’s hope this isn’t a lesson about the Pentagon’s backbone when it’s up against foreign theocrats.

Wednesday night, we learned that the Pentagon DADT study showed “minimal” impact from ending the ban on open service.

The domestic theocrats, who over the past year or so seem to have choreographed a number of very anti-gay leaks from the Pentagon, went apoplectic. Yesterday, the Family Research Council asked for an investigation of that leak about the Pentagon’s DADT study:

So Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’s supporters shouldn’t be too happy about the leak.

And Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, isn’t. Today he suggested the leak “gravely undermine[s]” the Comprehensive Review Working Group’s study and asked Defense Secretary Robert Gates and the Defense Department’s inspector general to investigate.

Apparently, FRC holds great sway over the Pentagon, because, today, Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell announced that there will indeed be an investigation:

“For nearly nine months the Working Group has operated in strict accordance to that mandate. Anonymous sources now risk undermining the integrity of this process.

“The Secretary strongly condemns the unauthorized release of information related to this report and has directed an investigation to establish who communicated with the Washington Post or any other news organization without authorization and in violation of Department policy and his specific instruction.

“The full report will be made public for all to review early next month. Until then, no one at the Pentagon will comment on its contents.”

Earlier today, by press release, HRC demanded that the Pentagon release the DADT study ASAP. Based on this statement, that ain’t happening. Not even close.

On the other hand, FRC demands an investigation and it happens, pronto. Shows who has influence, huh?

Who is running this administration anyway?




AMERICAblog Gay

—  admin

Sec Def Gates pushes for legislative DADT repeal because it will give the Pentagon ‘flexibility’

Right: a conversation about the absurdity.



Number one, it’s hard to take anything Secretary of Defense Robert Gates says regarding repeal at this point, since he’s been part of the foot-dragging maneuvers to begin with. Number two, for him to cite legislative repeal as giving the military more “flexibility” in handling implementation of repeal only raises more questions about what the Pentagon’s “needs” are related to rollout.  (The Advocate):

In making his case, Gates referenced a two-week period in October when the Pentagon went through “four different policy changes” after a federal judge issued an injunction on the law and then denied a stay request until she was overruled by a higher court.

“So I, I think we have the least flexibility – we have the least opportunity to do this intelligently and carefully and with the kind of preparation that is necessary, if the courts take this action as opposed to there being legislation,” Gates concluded.

What does he mean? What flexibility in implementation and preparation would be hampered by the courts? Does he want to leave asinine ideas like separate-but-equal quarters on the table for the homophobes in the ranks at the Pentagon’s disposal? Left alone, Gates’s remarks leave much to be desired (and that’s being charitable).
Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

—  admin

Gates: DADT repeal needs to happen before new Congress is seated

Gates: DADT repeal needs to happen before new Congress is seated

No sh*t, Bob. This is what the Secretary of Defenses said about the upcoming lame duke session.

“I would like to see the repeal of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ but I’m not sure what the prospects for that are. And we’ll just have to see.”

– to reporters aboard a U.S. military aircraft shortly before landing in Australia for annual bilateral talks.

He sure hasn’t been urgent about the matter until the whole political house of cards fell down last week, and of course the remote chance of passage makes it easy to say this now.

Unless the lame-duck Congress acts, the repeal effort is considered dead for now.

The current, Democratic-controlled Congress has not acted to lift the ban, which President Barack Obama promised to eliminate. In his postelection news conference Wednesday, Obama said there would be time to repeal the ban in December or early January, after the military completes a study of the effects of repeal on the front lines and at home.

With Republicans taking control of the House in January, and with larger margins in the Senate, supporters of lifting the ban predict it will be much more difficult.

Meanwhile, there wasn’t any comment from the President; he was hard at work abroad…


Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

—  admin

Kerry Eleveld @ The Advocate: Gates, Obama deliver advances after bizarre week

In a nutshell, it looks like the Obama administration, specifically the President and Sec Def Robert Gates were trying to score some points with the LGBT community after a pretty embarrassing week on the PR front (see Valerie Jarrett’s implosion on CNN).

President Obama released Thursday evening his contribution to LGBT activist Dan Savage’s “It Gets Better” project, video messages intended to lend hope and perspective to queer youth who may feel alienated, disheartened or even desperate.

…But until this week, the president seemed mostly oblivious to the present-day equality movement staring him in the face – unaware that he and his administration are standing as an impediment to freedom’s progress through their inaction on so many fronts.

However, his video was a signal that some realization seems to have crept in based on the shocking and inescapable spate of queer tragedies – ranging from heart wrenching suicides to horrific acts of violence – that preceded a blistering couple of weeks for the administration.

And if you kept up with your PHB reading this week, DADT news was fast and furious, and the WH was losing the battle the stay ahead of the criticism.

So where the politicians have failed, the courts are now picking up the slack. White House press secretary Robert Gibbs has been forced to dole out a number of convoluted answers about DADT over the past several weeks, but he has been crystal clear about the following: “The courts have demonstrated that the time is ticking on the policy of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell.’”

…Whatever they are planning for now, it appears doubtful they spent much time seriously prepping for the headache that Judge Virginia Phillips visited upon them last week. In fact, it took them two days to circulate new orders regarding the injunction and yet another day to redirect recruiters.

Given the situation’s volatility, Thursday of this week, Secretary Gates designated just three people – the secretaries of the Army, Navy, and Air Force – who have the authority to finalize discharges. The memo from Gates was nothing short of an acknowledgment that even DOD had finally lost control of the fate of this misbegotten policy.

As Blender Paul Barwick noted, this means DADT discharges have effectively been stopped.

To me this reads as if we have accomplished the first step that we have asked for.

Admittedly it has been several decades since I served in the Army, but I suspect that one thing has not changed.  No low or middle level commander is going to want her or his name on a request that is guaranteed to not only be read by the secretary of their branch of the service, but also personally perused by the Under Secretary of Defense. By saying that he wants to hear about each and every case, the Secretary of Defense is saying in essence that he doesn’t want to hear about any case.  In effect the discharges have been stopped.

Why the Secretary of Defense felt the need to do this now will have to be explained by someone more knowledgeable than I.  One might wonder if the Commander is Chief finally caught sight of a chart listing the chain-of-command in the military?  Hard to say.

This is a big deal.  My heartfelt thanks to each and every person who has raised their voice, scrawled “No more donations until DADT is repealed, lobbied their congress person, chained themself to a fence or any of the other multitude of actions that we as a community have used to wipe this shameful law from the books.  Draw strength from this.  We are being heard, and the forces of bigotry are being forced to slither back under the rocks from which they came.

It’s a victory of sorts, but Gates has just started a trickle out of dam that is about to burst. So he wants gays and lesbians not to be discharged, but they cannot still cannot come out of the closet safely; they are still without any benefits that would give them rights equivalent to their straight counterparts (see: DOMA) and it looks like an attempt to get the wider public to believe that DADT is dead, when there are myriad issues connected to the policy that are unrelated to discharges. What it indicates is that there is little confidence that the Senate is going to pass repeal in the Def Auth bill in the lame duck session.

Cinderella crumbs again…wholly dependent on a commander who is not willing to send a discharge up the military food chain. Looking at the glass half full, as Paul has, it means the pressure on this administration from the outside DOES have an impact. And that’s why the pressure to stop any meme that DADT is all but dead must be countered, and to stress these moves are coming down the pike because of the courts, not lobbying on the Hill.

Further reading: The DADT Appeal and the District Court’s Worldwide Injunction by Tobias Barrington Wolff
Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

—  admin