Hold ‘Em High for Hope poker tournament at Axiom

Aces high

Hope for Peace and Justice teams up with Pocket Rockets tonight for their Hold ‘Em High for Hope poker tourney and mixer. With over $400 in prizes, the event benefits the anti-bullying campaign, the Safe Schools Program. Raffles, silent auction, drinks and food make the evening an event. And don’t worry. Non-poker players are just as welcome. Hey, it is a mixer, also.

DEETS: Axiom Sushi Lounge,  4123 Cedar Springs Road. 6:30 p.m. PocketRocketsDallas.com

—  Rich Lopez

Gary Floyd, then and now

Gary Lynn Floyd killed a few birds with one stone last night. First, he helped celebrate the Interfaith Peace Chapel’s one-year anniversary. Second, he shot footage for his upcoming reality series slot on Troubadour, TX. Most importantly, though, he reminded us all why we love listening to him sing.

His concert Sunday night, which also served as a release party for his new CD Then+Now, featured Gary on piano, voice miked, singing solo: Songs from his long career, some from his days in Christian music (including his only No. 1 hit as a songwriter), moving up to his current output. He joked that people may still detect a bit of the church in his voice; ain’t that the truth. Listening to Gary is sort of like your own private sermon — he seemed to be connecting directly with me as he sang. (Of course, I was sitting behind his mother, so maybe he was just singing to her.)  But I bet all of the 80 or so attendees felt that same connection. That’s what good singing is all about.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

‘Perform or provide’

DADT repeal gives progressive chaplains a chance to counter evangelical clergy in the military

IMG_5132

CATCH-ALL CHAPLAIN | Chaplain Chris Antal (Lt.) attended the meeting of the Forum on Military Chaplaincy at Cathedral of Hope in October. (David Taffet/Dallas Voice)

DAVID TAFFET  |  Staff Writer
taffet@dallasvoice.com
When a soldier recently came to Chaplain Chris Antal, a lieutenant in the Army National Guard in New York and a Unitarian Universalist minister, and asked if he’d pray with her even though she was a pagan, he said he replied, “Of course I will, but you’ll have to show me how.”

Several weeks later, when he saw her again, she told him that the day she had come to visit him, she had hit rock bottom. He had, she told him, saved her life that day.

But Antal said he was only doing his job — helping any soldier who comes to him.

“I’ve earned the nickname, the Catch-all Chaplain,” he said, explaining that it means he takes everyone the other chaplains don’t want to deal with.

Carpenter.Dodd

Capt. Tom Carpenter (ret.) and Col. Paul Dodd (ret.)

Being there to help a soldier in need is what it’s all about for a military chaplain, said Col. Paul Dodd, a retired chaplain who now lives in Austin.

“The duty of a military chaplain is to perform or provide,” said Dodd, adding that he once sponsored an Islamic conference.

Dodd said that no chaplain can perform every service needed by every member of the military. But if a chaplain can’t perform the service requested, he or she must provide that soldier with a referral to someone else who can.

Antal said that chaplains who enlisted knew what they were getting into — to some extent. But none of them really expected the repeal of the military’s anti-gay “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. And for many, that repeal was a game changer.

In October, a group of active and retired chaplains and military personnel and other people of faith, such as the Rev. Steve Sprinkle from Brite Divinity

School in Fort Worth, met at the Interfaith Peace Chapel at Cathedral of Hope to begin looking at ways of addressing the issues that arose for military chaplains around DADT repeal.

Dave Guy Gainer said The Forum on Military Chaplaincy is not exactly new. It formed in 2005 as a project of Servicemembers Legal Defense Network and worked under the radar until DADT was repealed.

Sprinkle said people in the Pentagon, up through Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, knew about their work and considered their statements throughout the DADT repeal process.

And now, with repeal complete, the group met to “come out.” At their meeting in Dallas, forum members considered ways to become an independent organization helping to ensure newly out service members receive the pastoral care they need while serving in the military.

Susan Gore, principle of The Mentor Group and editor of the book Coming Out In Faith, moderated the Dallas conference. She said the group started with several retired military officers “who wanted to push back against the far-right skew.”

Sprinkle has been part of the forum for four years and said he was recruited to participate because of his work on hate crimes.
Since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, Sprinkle said, more and more members of the Chaplain Corps have come from just one school — Liberty

University, founded by far-right evangelical Jerry Falwell. Today, Sprinkle estimated, one-third of military chaplains come from Liberty University.

“They instituted a program that barely meets minimum requirements,” he said of the evangelical school. “It’s an online course.”

And, Sprinkle said, Liberty University’s goal is to take control of the Chaplain Corps and use the military as a pool for religious recruits.

“This is fertile ground to bring people to Jesus at taxpayer expense,” said Tom Carpenter, a retired Marine captain and one of the forum’s founders.

“I’ve heard stories of them holding the hand of someone who’s dying and trying to bring them to Jesus.”

And although such actions contradict military policy, no one in the corps has been disciplined or dismissed for it.

“They give chaplains a lot of leeway,” Carpenter said.

Gainer said the military is looking for well-rounded ministers who bring experience with them to the military.

According to the U.S. Army Chaplain Center and School in Fort Jackson, S.C., candidates must be endorsed by their denomination or faith group and be “sensitive to religious pluralism and able to provide for the free exercise of religion by all military personnel, their family members and civilians who work for the Army.”

But Sprinkle said that Liberty University is transparent about its goals, and those goals do not line up.

“They’re not committed to pluralism or serving all the troops,” he said.

Gainer said that the greatest opposition to repealing DADT came from the Chaplain Corps because military chaplains answer to two groups — the military and their denomination. Those chaplains that didn’t adhere to a strict stance of maintaining the ban on gays and lesbians were threatened with losing their accreditation from their endorsing religious body — and with it their livelihood and their pensions.

But that contradicts the stated goals of the Chaplain Corps.

“Someone has to say, ‘Either you comply and serve all the troops all the time or get out,’” Sprinkle said.

Gore said that one of the goals of the newly public forum is to “rebalance the Chaplain Corps by bringing in more mainstream faiths.” She said that for many who come from more liberal traditions, questions of what’s a just war make it hard to serve in the military. Antal, for example, is one of just four Unitarian Universalists in the Chaplain Corps.

During its push for repeal of DADT, members
said, the forum had several successes working behind the scenes.

Despite the assumption of confidentiality between parishioner and clergy, that wasn’t always the case between gay soldier and chaplain. Dodd said that a number of discharges under DADT occurred after a soldier talked to a chaplain and the chaplain turned them in.

In fact, he wrote a white paper on the practice. After he submitted it, the military tightened up on chaplain confidentiality, Dodd said.

Carpenter, an attorney, wrote an amicus brief for the Log Cabin Republicans’ lawsuit against DADT. The court found in favor of declaring DADT unconstitutional, but Congress repealed the law before the decision could be enforced.

Carpenter said that the repeal allows gays and lesbians to serve with no protection. The legal decision, had it not been vacated upon repeal, would have allowed gays and lesbians to serve equally.

Now that DADT is gone, the forum is examining how to ensure LGB personnel receive the same services as other troops from chaplains.

Dodd said that right-wing chaplains charge that allowing gays and lesbians to serve in the military will force them to act in ways that go against their beliefs. Some have said they would be required to perform same-sex weddings.

Dodd called that ridiculous. Chaplains are never asked to perform duties that go against their religious beliefs, he said.

“I turned down weddings,” he said. “An officer came to me who wasn’t divorced.”

He said the officer tried to pull strings and force the issue, but Dodd wasn’t going to discuss marrying someone who was still married to someone else.

“But we’re insisting chaplains have the authority, if it’s in keeping with their faith, to marry same-sex couples,” he said.

Because of the Defense of Marriage Act, the repeal provides no family benefits. For some issues, Dodd and Carpenter suggested work-arounds.

Issuing ID cards would be extremely helpful, especially to same-sex couples with children, Carpenter said, noting that “That way either parent could get on base to get a child to the hospital.”

In another example, joint assignments can be offered at the discretion of a commanding officer, and married couples are often assigned together when they both qualify for positions that are available at the same base. Same-sex couples could be given the same priority.

As the forum looks ahead, rebalancing the Chaplain Corps with members from a more diverse background to reflect the membership of the military is a priority.

“And we need to take care of our trans brothers and sisters,” Carpenter said.

The repeal of DADT did not address any transgender issues and does not allow transgender men or women to serve in the military.

Gainer believes representatives of the forum need to sit down with far-right members of the Chaplain Corps and agree to disagree. He said that before the repeal of DADT, they talked to people at Veterans of Foreign Wars and the American Legion. While both groups testified against the repeal, they met with some success.

“The president of the VFW in Pflugerville said it was the right thing to do,” Gainer said.

That dialogue, he believed, would help chaplains perform or at least provide a useful referral, rather than doing more damage to a soldier seeking help.

Gore thought that the focus of discussion should be with the majority of chaplains “who want to do a good job and are part of the moveable middle.”

“We have to convince administrators and educators in divinity schools to encourage some of their best and brightest to serve,” Sprinkle said. “So many schools dropped what they were doing during the Vietnam era.”

Antal thinks that gays and lesbians will gain more acceptance as they tell their stories in non-confrontational settings and others see “their identity as professional service members is primary.”

While the work of the forum will concentrate on helping LGB military personnel, creating a more diverse Chaplain Corps may help a majority of service members. Recent polls show that a majority of troops find the chaplaincy irrelevant.

Sprinkle called the work of the forum a gift from the LGBT community to the nation.

“You wouldn’t think we’d be the ones opening the doors so that all troops will be served with dignity, integrity and respect,” he said.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition November 4, 2011.

 

—  Kevin Thomas

John McCain doesn’t want whoever manages Sarah Palin’s Twitter account to think he’s gay

Sen. John McCain

Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain, the leading opponent of the repeal of “don’t ask don’t tell,” now says he will do everything he can to make it work. The Hill reports:

McCain signaled that he had made peace with the lame-duck bill to do away with the military’s ban on openly gay and lesbian service members, of which he had been an outspoken critic.

“I think I have to do everything I can to make sure that the [impact on the] morale, retention, recruitment and battle effectiveness of the military is minimized as much as possible,” McCain said on Fox Business. “It is a law and I have to do whatever I can to help the men and women who are serving, particularly in combat, cope with this new situation. I will do everything I can to make it work.”

Who knows for sure what’s behind McCain’s change of heart, which is just the latest in his series of flip-flops on the issue. But we’d be willing to bet that it’s politically motivated on some level.

Of course, we could also speculate that his wife, Cindy, finally got to him. Or that he saw Sarah Palin’s retweet the other day and set out to again prove that he’s not gay. In any case, he remains firmly atop our Top 10 RINFs, which is a companion to this list.

—  John Wright

Peace on Earth, Equal Rights for All

Xmas

Thanks to all the readers that have made it the best year ever for Towleroad.

Michael Goff and I, and our regular contributors Steve Pep, Nathaniel Rogers, Ari Ezra Waldman, and Modern Tonic, wish you a peaceful and joyous holiday, and healthy and prosperous 2011.


Towleroad News #gay

—  admin

Breaking news: Seelig to leave Dallas for SF gig

Dr. Timothy Seelig, for 20 years the artistic director of the Turtle Creek Chorale and of late head of the Resounding Harmony chorus and Art for Peace & Justice project, has accepted a position as the new artistic director of the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus. He will take over the baton on Jan. 1, 2011.

Before that, he’ll lead Resounding Harmony one final time, for a concert at the Meyerson on Nov. 10.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Query • 10.01.10

Have you or your children been bullied in school?

………………………….

Gary Shephard — “Yes. The school I attended in rural Florida put me through hell in 9th and 10th grade. I wound up back in Philadelphia the next year; it was such a relief.”

Latisha McDaniel — “Yeah, I think everyone got picked on in school but the difference now is that there is no escape like when I was a kid. The bullying stayed in the school.”

John S. Shore — “I was more than bullied my entire life. All the kids, bus drivers, coaches and teachers allowed and watched me get beat up. Let’s teach karate and peace.”

Ron Allen —  “The problem is the attitude that ‘It’s just part of growing up.’ When parents, teachers, school officials, bus drivers and others in authority have that attitude that’s what drives our gay and lesbian children to view suicide as the only solution to a daily existence that has become intolerable to them. Yes, I was bullied unmercifully as a child and a teenager in a small town in the South.”

…………………………

Have a suggestion for a question you’d like us to ask?  E-mail it to nash@dallasvoice.com.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 01, 2010.

—  Michael Stephens

Peace out in, FL adoption ban

With the bumblef*ck that was the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell repeal vote, the election, and the onset of the fatten-yourself-with-pumpkin-flavored-things season, we’ve been remiss in mentioning a kick arse story that came out of Florida this week:

A unanimous three-judge panel of Florida’s 3rd District Court of Appeal has ruled that the statute barring “homosexual” people from adopting is unconstitutional.

Ruling September 22 on the state’s appeal of a decision by Miami-Dade County Circuit Judge Cindy S. Lederman granting Martin Gill’s petition to adopt his two foster children, the court found that there was no rational basis to categorically exclude gay people from being adoptive parents.

Governor Charlie Crist, an Independent candidate for the US Senate who just last week announced he had abandoned his earlier support for the adoption ban, promptly announced the state would stop enforcing it and he would not appeal the ruling to the Florida Supreme Court.

FULL: Florida Adoption Ban Thrown Out [Gay City News]

The only way this matter can reasonably be appealed further is if GOP Attorney General Bill McCullom (anything but an  Good As You Images 200801301014-1LGBT ally) tries to challenge Crist’s lack of appeal. So 30+ years post Anita Bryant, this finally might be the principled spire that juices the onetime pitchwoman’s errant orange. Just imagine all of the kids who could have had homes in that considerable span of time!

It just so happens that this yours truly is gonna be in Florida this weekend. If anyone wants me to bring them back a snow globe, t-shirt, or human being feel free to Tweet me.




Good As You

—  John Wright