Leak prompted Boy Scouts to publicize board’s discussion of gay ban

scouts

Someone within the Boy Scouts of America leaked information that the National Executive Board would discuss ending the group’s national no-gays policy last week.

The National Executive Board ultimately postponed a decision on a proposed policy change that would have left it up to local troops whether to allow gays. A recording obtained by The New York Times explains why the BSA released a statement Jan. 28 that the board would consider the change.

Tico A. Perez, Scouting’s national commissioner, told a group of about 250 BSA staff and the executive board last week that the person who leaked the information “either didn’t like what we were doing, or they thought they were going to be helpful to the conversation.”

Perez continued to explain that instead of having a discussion behind closed doors, the board meeting received national attention and the BSA received a flood of input from across the country with 17,000 emails sent in only five minutes.

He said the attention made the change seem imminent when, in fact, the board only planned to discuss the change.

“It gave the impression, No. 1, that we were driving something to a vote, which we were not trying to do — we were trying to start a conversation,” Perez said. “And, No. 2, that we were doing something that we were going to spring on the board.”

—  Anna Waugh

Master of HIS domain

Ben Starr, the recently out Dallas cheftestant on Fox’s ‘MasterChef,’ camps it up on Gordon Ramsay’s cooking competition series

ARNOLD WAYNE JONES  | Life+Style Editor
jones@dallasvoice.com

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MASTERCHEF
Airs Tuesdays on Fox (Ch. 4) at 8 p.m.

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When Lewisville-based travel writer Ben Starr auditioned for Fox’s MasterChef, he doubted they’d be interested in his style of home cooking. But not only did he make the cut, he’s been one of the more memorable cheftestants — just this week, he had the judge’s favorite dish.

The series is only halfway through, but for Starr, it’s already made a huge difference in his life: It forced him to come out to his parents just last month. We talked to him about the experience and his favorite meals.

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You’ve been struggling since you wowed the judges at your audition. The audition kinda set me up to expect that I would do well in the competition, but we spun pretty quickly into an emphasis on gourmet cuisine, which is not my thing at all. My street tacos were a little bit spiffy, and I am extremely well traveled, but I tend to eat peasant food even when I travel. I was seeing all these people around me making restaurant quality cuisine and trying to compete on their level. Nice to make a good ol’ catfish in a skillet.

What was the hardest challenge for you? The biggest challenge has definitely been psychological. I’m competitive by nature and I want to feel like I’m competition, but I was surrounded by chefs that were a little more connected to the Food Network that I am. They’d use words like umami [a Japanese word for a savory flavor] and I had to go look it up. There was a common lexicon among the contestants about what these famous chefs I’ve never heard of are doing in their restaurants. I felt like an idiot stumbling around in the dark. That started to leak into my cooking and I began to question, “Is this sophisticated enough? Is this even sophisticated?” The episode this week was a turning point. I felt like for the first time I’m back in my own element.

You certainly have made an impression with your outfits. I don’t wear those hats at home, though I do wear an apron, just for practicality. But [the show] has started this storytelling legacy — people expect me to wear them when they come over. My mom made me the pumpkin hat and apron. Actually, she made me five or six pairs to wear. That’s why you always see a different one on me each episode. I was going through them.

Was wearing them part of a conscious effort to stand during the auditions? I am fairly myself, though I had to set myself apart that wasn’t just about food. I needed to be someone [the judges] remember when they go home at night. That’s why I talked about my rural upbringing, because I thought it would generate a memory.

Had you watched the show before? Did you know what to expect? I don’t watch much TV, but this is not my first time being on TV, which is ironic because I abhor reality television —it brings out the worst in our culture. But I did Rachael Ray’s So You Think You Can Cook in 2007. The audience there was much more caring and nurturing than the machine on MasterChef, but I was a little bit prepared for the frank judgment.

I did not watch the first season of MasterChef, but my friend Karen Rutherford said, “I’ll never speak to you again if you don’t audition [for season 2].” So I watched them all on Hulu. I just sweated my way through them. I knew how intense and stressful it is to cook on TV, and saw how brutal Joe Bastianich and Gordon Ramsay were with the contestants. I thought: Screw this. Then a few weeks passed and the terror faded [and I went through the lengthy audition process]. It was a lot of work — the most difficult full-time job I’ve ever had that doesn’t pay.

What’s your favorite kind of cuisine? While my DNA wants to say Mexican food — I had it in the womb six times a week — I am most intrigued by Thai food. It is so complex, yet so much of it is cooked on the street in a tiny little cart. From the richest to the poorest, everybody eats on the street.

How about a favorite meal? One of the most memorable meals I’ve ever had was in Egypt on New Year’s Eve in 2001. I spent it on Mount Sinai and hiked eight miles back down to the car for the drive back to our resort. [The driver] fell asleep at the wheel and we plummeted into a canyon. Eventually a camel train of Bedouins came by the bottom of this canyon. They took us onto the camels and rode four or five miles to their camp. All the women came out, killed a goat and started cooking while the men tried to pull our car out of the canyon.

It was a humble meal — just a goat stew and some flat bread — but the flavors were really intense and felt they came right out of the desert. I could not even communicate with these people who live in abject poverty, but still they were willing to kill one of their last goats and throw a big feast for us because it’s in their nature to be hospitable. I realized it was important to me to use food to nurture people in my life — I could never be a chef and be in the back. I need to be with the people. My partner is one of the main reasons I cook — we’ve been together eight years and I want to marry him one day.

Did you plan to be “the gay guy” on the show? When I was on [Rachael Ray] it was not addressed and I didn’t talk about it openly. At that point my family didn’t know I was gay — in fact, I didn’t come out to my parents until about five weeks ago. They were totally shell-shocked — they didn’t have a clue.

Maybe mom should have guessed since she made you all those hats. Ha! Maybe.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition July 8, 2011.

—  Michael Stephens

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

Pentagon DADT survey leak: majority of troops don’t object to serving alongside gay soldiers

Of course they are already serving alongside gay and lesbian soldiers, so the point of this leak is not to surprise anyone. Clearly someone at the Pentagon (or the White House), in planning to push for doing something in the Senate before all hope is lost on DADT repeal, is floating this balloon for all of the Senators who have been hiding behind the fig leaf of “I’m waiting for the study.” This development was reported tonight by NBC’s Richard Engel (via The Wonk Room):

ENGEL: The findings are that for most soldiers, and this wasn’t the sum total of all soldiers, it wasn’t that big of a deal…The majority – the number one answer, first answer was ‘I don’t care.’ That’s significant.

MADDOW: Predominant answer is ‘no big deal.’

ENGEL: Most common, number one. Number two was, ‘I would deal directly with the person involved.’ So when you put the two of those together, it is the majority. Now, there were some people who said, three, they would go to the chain of command and some four, who hated it, hated it. But the answers one and two are considered positive. So these studies show a relative if not positive outlook, at least an accepting outlook.

MADDOW: So the military study is, as you said, the survey of the troops is part of it. It’s an overall study of the feasibility of the issue….this survey of the troops, what you’ve learned is that a majority of troops it’s not going to be a major deal.

ENGEL: Not a deal breaker, that they they’re not going to be running from the army in droves. A key thing this study kept coming back to is that it’s very important about the chain of command. What commanders say. How far commanders act. What tone they set. The marines were the most negative out of the services. They had the most people who were – with negative responses. And the marine corps leadership has taken a stance and has been very vocally against this issue. And the study found that most soldiers and sailors and all different service members follow a chain of command. So if the chain of command accepts this as the law, the data is that so will the soldiers.

Igor Volsky at The Wonk Room has a nice collection of quotes from Republicans who have been waiting for “what the troops have to say.”

Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

—  admin