DADT is the danger to the military, not LGBT soldiers

Policy forces lesbian and gay servicemembers to keep secrets, and keeping secrets is what makes them vulnerable, puts them at risk

David E. Cozad
David E. Cozad

Gays and lesbians serving in the United States military are a threat to national security. But only if they’re subject to the indignity of “Don’t ask, don’t tell.”

I served as an officer in the United States Marine Corps during the early to mid-1970s. Having had this experience, I can tell you that I’d be very concerned if a Marine under my command felt the need to conceal a major aspect of their life from the rest.

Keeping one secret leads to the need to keep others, and that is a security problem no officer wants to face.

The British learned a hard lesson in this area half a century ago, when gay members of the civil service were blackmailed by Soviet agents. More recently, one of our own soldiers, apparently facing discrimination over his sexuality among other issues, chose to release a quarter-million State Department documents to Wikileaks.

Part of the fallout from this includes the outing of hundreds of Afghans who’ve rendered assistance to our efforts there. These men are as good as dead and an already tough environment will be even more dangerous for our people.

While this is the most dramatic event in this area, the constant grind of losing good people is an equally serious problem. We spend $300 million annually to replace those we discharge due to DADT, and there are other costs our troops should not be made to bear.

The straight lieutenant in charge of a convoy in Afghanistan didn’t even know the ambush his unit faced could have been avoided if we’d not discharged a gay linguist the previous month. He’ll write the letter to the mother of the soldier who died in that ambush, unaware that the lesbian nurse discharged the week before had the skills to save the man, a tuition that had been paid not with dollars, but with the blood of those she’d cared for previously.

Our nation faces many, many complex problems. Gay troops are not one of them.

Gay men have quietly served our nation since that first shot at the Old North Bridge in Concord, and it’s time we treat the LGBT men and women in our armed forces with the same respect we accord everyone else — both when they are in uniform, and after their honorable discharge at the end of their service.

David E. Cozad is the Democratic candidate for the District 6 seat in Congress. He is challenging incumbent Republican Joe Barton.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition August 6, 2010.

—  Kevin Thomas

Houston LGBTs to celebrate anniversary of repeal of ordinance banning cross-dressing

Phyllis Frye

Back when I was in junior high school — the early to mid 1970s — our school had a dress code that prohibited girls from wearing pants with rear pockets. See, pants that had pockets on the back were “boy” pants, and girls weren’t allowed to wear “boy” pants.

Having always been a jeans kind of gal myself, I broke that rule often. And I got in trouble for it more than once.

But obviously, my rural, smalltown junior high school wasn’t the only place that had such rules. Most cities had ordinances that prohibited cross-dressing. My old friend, the late Joe Elliott, told me that in the ’60s when she was a dyke about town, the butch lesbians always had to be careful not to dress too masculine in public, or they would be arrested. And I have heard drag queens talk about how they had to make sure to wear men’s underwear under their dresses to avoid arrest.

These ordinances were usually used by police to justify harassment of “the queers,” especially the transgenders and the butch lesbians. Such was the case in Houston, where next weekend the Transgender Foundation of America will hold an event to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the repeal of that city’s “no cross-dressing” ordinance.

Lou Weaver, who is on the TFA board, sent out an e-mail Wednesday announcing the event.

“This is not a joke!” Weaver wrote. “At that time women were expected to have their zippers on the side or in the back, otherwise, they were cross-dressing. This led to constant harrassment and several arrests for trans identified women, lesbians and anyone else the vice squad did not approve of.”

Well-known Houston attorney transgender activist Phyllis Frye led the three-and-a-half-year-long battle to get the ordinance repealed, and she will be on hand at the event to “share stories about fighting for transgender rights,” Weaver said. One of those stories is Frye’s account, following, about how they slipped the repeal vote past the homophobes/transphobes:

“On August the 12th, 1980, after several delay-tags that were put on to the repeal ordinance, it was again before Council. At the time, our Mayor was Jim McConn. He was out of town, as was Jim Westmoreland. McConn knew that it was coming up on the agenda, and he had told the Mayor pro tem for that day, Johnny Goyen, that it was alright with him. City Secretary, Anna Russell, waited until Council members Homer Ford and Larry McKaskell were on the phone. When they got on the phone, she immediately handed the repeal to Johnny. You see, the deal is that under council rules if you’re present and you don’t vote no, then it’s an automatic yes vote. Homer and Larry were on the phone. They didn’t even know what was going on. There was only one no vote, and that was Council member Christen Hartung, she was the sole and only no vote. I still hope that somebody will beat her. Homer and Larry went to Johnny about five minutes later, and Johnny says, ‘oh, I didn’t know that was going through.’ The ordinance was repealed and it has remained so to this day.”

The anniversary event will be held from noon to 5 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 14, at 604 Pacific in Houston. Everyone is welcome. Food will be provided but bring your own beer and wine.

Today, we celebrate a court victory over Prop 8 in California and move one step closer to eventual full marriage equality in this country. But as you celebrate remember that just 30 years ago, butch lesbians in Houston couldn’t wear zip-up Levis without risking arrest.

So if you are in Houston next weekend, go on over to 604 Pacific on Saturday afternoon and celebrate  a significant historical victory. And if you’re not in Houston, well, take a minute that day to stop and say a silent thank-you to those men and women, like Phyllis, who were willing to stand up and fight the good fight when it was much more dangerous to do so, and win the battles that make it possible for us to live as openly and freely as we do today.

—  admin