13 years after 9/11 — Don’t let the terrorists win

9-11-skyline-night

By Hardy Haberman, DV contributing writer

Thirteen years. Seems like a long time and yet I remember it like yesterday.

What I am about to say will undoubtedly enrage a lot of folks. But it comes from the heart, and I hope you will hear me out.

When those men hijacked the flights which later crashed into the World Trade Center Towers and The Pentagon and that lonely field in Pennsylvania, they had one intention in mind. They are called terrorists because that was their goal, to terrorize. They achieved that goal in a spectacular and outrageous fashion, and from that perspective their attacks were a success.

Americans, including me, were terrorized.

It was impossible not to feel terror as we all watched the aftermath of this despicable act. Indeed, we will never forget it, nor should we.

Now here is where I will lose friends: It’s time for us to stop being terrorized.

That terror caused us to put in place a series of laws that robbed many of the very freedoms we hold so dear.

It caused us to blindly follow a misguided president who dragged us into a war that didn’t need to happen in a country that had no part in the attacks.

It caused us to set up a secret surveillance network that rivals the old KGB but with half the efficiency.

It caused us to doubt our fellow citizens’ patriotism, simply because their religion or their manner of dress might be different than our own.

It caused us to imprison without charges hundreds of foreign nationals as “enemy combatants” with no clue as to how they would be tried or what they would be charged with.

It caused us to spend billions of dollars on half-baked security measures that do little to improve our safety and everything to reduce our privacy.

It sent us into a decade of doubt, suspicion and misdirected anger.

If that is not the result they sought, I don’t know what is. They succeeded with three of their flying bombs and the fourth was stopped only by the heroism of American citizens like you and me.

Its time we got back on track and stopped being terrorized. We need to stop behaving like scared rabbits and start behaving like those brave folks on United Flight 93. We need to stand up and realize that the world is a dangerous place, but we cannot sacrifice our freedom for security. We need to realize that each of us could be called on to defend our country at any time, but we do not need to militarize our country to do it.

We can be cautious without being paranoid. We can be vigilant without being militarized. We can reclaim our freedom and live life to the fullest without looking over our shoulder every few seconds fearing another attack.

I feel pretty sure there may be other attacks. That genii is out of the bottle. It is the world we live in today.

We cannot isolate ourselves any longer, but we can improve the quality of our lives and our freedom.

Until we do that, the terrorists win.

—  Tammye Nash

TOP 10: Gays began serving openly in U.S. military

DADT

KISSING DADT GOODBYE | Petty Officer 2nd Class Marissa Gaeta, left, kisses her girlfriend, Citlalic Snell, at a Navy base in Virginia Beach, Va., on Dec. 22. According to Navy tradition, one lucky sailor is chosen to be first off the ship for the long-awaited kiss with a loved one. This time, for the first time, the happily reunited couple was gay. (Associated Press)

No 1:

Legislation to repeal “don’t ask, don’t tell” passed Congress last year and was signed by President Barack Obama on Dec. 22, 2010.

But 2011 was the year of implementation.

While other countries that changed policies about gays and lesbians serving in the armed forces recommended a quick implementation, the U.S. chose a slow, methodical approach.

Before repeal went into effect, the defense secretary, chairman of the joint chiefs and president had to certify that the military was ready for implementation.

Among the delays in implementing the repeal was to give the Pentagon time to change regulations and benefits, according to Defense Secretary Robert Gates.

Next, training materials had to be prepared and, finally, 2.2 million troops had to be trained. In February, the military announced some of its plans.

The idea of building separate bathroom facilities was rejected and personnel wouldn’t be given the option of refusing to serve with gays and lesbians.

The Navy announced its training schedule to be complete by June 30.

Support for the repeal grew and came from some surprising sources.

Former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld even announced: “We know that gays and lesbians have been serving in the military for decades with honorable service. We know that [repeal] is an idea whose time has
come.”

As implementation progressed, conservative members of Congress continued to try to derail it. Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., introduced an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act that would have required all four service chiefs to certify that DADT repeal wouldn’t hurt the military’s readiness.

Another amendment by Rep. Steven Palazzo, R-Miss, would require the military to “accommodate” servicemembers who believe that “homosexual or bisexual conduct is immoral and/or an inappropriate expression of human sexuality.”

The Navy previously announced that it would allow same-sex weddings on bases in states where it’s legal.

In May, it reversed course saying that the Defense of Marriage Act precluded it from allowing chaplains to perform marriages for gay and lesbian servicemembers on base.

As certification approached, the Pentagon made it clear that same-sex spouses of military personnel would not be recognized and would receive none of the benefits opposite-sex spouses receive.

On July 22, Obama, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen certified that the U.S. military was ready for DADT repeal.

Repeal would be final 60 days from certification.

On Sept. 20 gays and lesbians could serve openly, if not equally, in the military. Members of the military began coming out without fear of expulsion, but those who had same-sex spouses were still not given 40 benefits that opposite-sex couples enjoy.

Those benefits include healthcare for the spouse and housing allowances that can be substantial.

Even if the couple has children, the spouse cannot be issued an identification card to get on base with the military member’s child for healthcare and cannot access the base attorney to write wills and other papers normally drawn up before an overseas deployment.

Servicemembers dismissed under DADT began to consider re-enlisting.

Cully Johnson, an owner of Dallas Eagle, said at a Sept. 20 DADT repeal celebration that he would like to return to complete his military career.

Although gays and lesbians can now serve without fear of dismissal or rebuke, the ban on transgenders serving remains in effect.

More than 14,000 men and women were discharged under DADT during its 18-year existence with some estimates of the cost to taxpayers running as high as $700 million.

— David Taffet

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 30, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

Where were you on 9-11?

As the first of the World Trade Center towers to be hit, right, billows smoke, the second tower explodes in flames as the second hijacked airplane hits it.

In five days, we will mark the 10th anniversary of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. When I got to my office this morning, as I was going through my piles and piles of email, I found one from a Dallas Voice reader encouraging us to do something this week to remind people about Mark Bingham, a gay man who was on United Flight 93 that day when the terrorists highjacked it and aimed it toward Washington, D.C.

I plan to do that later this week, here on Instant Tea. But first, I want to ask readers to share their own stories about where they were and what they were doing when they first heard about the attacks of 9-11. I’ll go first:

Sept. 11, 2001 was the first day of my new job as a sportswriter for the Cleburne Times-Review. Although I didn’t have to actually go to work until later that afternoon, when I would be covering a high school tennis match, I was up and getting dressed for a meeting with my boss, the sports editor, about my schedule for that first week on the job. My girlfriend had already left for work and the kids were already at daycare, when she called on her cell phone as she headed for her job at Sabre, a company handling flight reservations for American Airlines. The offices were out near DFW International Airport.

“Turn on the news,” she told me. “Something bad has happened.” I asked what channel, and she said, “Any channel.”

—  admin

What’s Brewing: Obama kicks off 2012 re-election campaign; police raid gay bar in Shanghai

Your weekday morning blend from Instant Tea:

President Barack Obama

1. President Barack Obama formally launched his 2012 re-election campaign this morning. Above is the video sent via email to supporters.

2. Police in Shanghai, China, raided a popular gay bar over the weekend and took more than 60 people into custody. Customers and staff members from Q Bar reportedly were detained for up to 12 hours in cold rooms with no food or water.

3. The military will be ready to implement the repeal “don’t ask don’t tell” by mid-summer, a Pentagon official told a House committee on Friday.

—  John Wright

Gay military support group launches magazine

BRIAN WITTE | Associated Press

ANNAPOLIS, Md. — A support group for gay military service members launched an online magazine to provide information about pending repeal of the Pentagon’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, and printed copies could be on large bases by May, the group’s co-director said Monday.

An active-duty Air Force officer who is the co-director of OutServe said the magazine of the same name seeks to raise awareness that the change is coming. He uses the pseudonym JD Smith because he is gay and has lingering concerns about whether he could be discharged before the policy is fully implemented.

“The magazine helps set the tone, the idea, that it’s actually going to happen and normalizes it,” he told The Associated Press on Monday. “The more we normalize it, the more accepted it becomes.”

The free magazine will be published bi-monthly. OutServe has about 3,000 members, and the group plans to distribute copies in places like hospital waiting rooms and on stands at community centers on military bases where other publications are available.

Military officials did not respond to an email seeking comment Monday.

The magazine also will include articles about different OutServe chapters and information of interest to gay military members. Smith said group members believe the visual presence of a magazine will highlight that gays already serve proudly in the military.

The first electronic issue includes an article on a meeting between representatives in the group and the Pentagon Repeal Implementation Team. The article pointed out that the services plan to complete training at various points this summer relating to the policy’s repeal. The article also said team representatives could not give an expected repeal date because the decision is being based on training completion and how well unit commanders believe units are prepared.

The electronic edition also includes information about different gay support groups in the military, such as the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, which provides free legal advice to service members affected by the policy.

President Barack Obama signed a law in December to repeal the 17-year-old “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, which requires soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines to keep their homosexuality a secret or face dismissal. Final repeal implementation does not go into effect until 60 days after the president, defense secretary and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff certify that lifting the ban won’t hurt the military’s ability to fight.

—  John Wright

Pentagon Reveals Plan For DADT Repeal

SalutingSoldiers A memo put out by the Pentagon today provides insight into how the armed services plans to officially and credibly implement Don't Ask, Don't Tell's repeal.

The Washington Blade reports that military services secretaries have until the first of March to offer progress updates to Undersecretary of Defense for Personnel & Readiness Clifford Stanley, who will then work with them through a process that has four clearly delineated stages: pre-repeal, certification, implementation and sustainment.

In the pre-repeal phase, activities include Tier 1 and Tier 2 level training of military leadership and reporting to Obama administration officials on the progress of implementation. For example, the undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness must have a monthly meeting and report to the defense secretary and the chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on the status of repeal.

To reach the certification phase, the Repeal Implementation Team must provide appropriate documentation to the defense secretary and chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and provide their recommendation to the president.

Notably, the plan states the previously mentioned idea that Tier 3 training, education of the total force, can be completed after the certification for repeal is issued.

For the implementation phase, Tier 3 training will be completed and the Repeal Implementation Team will provide progress reports every two months to Pentagon leaders.

The sustainment phase involves making policy changes as needed and refining the education and training process.

After implementation has been "certified," it will take another 60 days until DADT has officially been repealed, so this is but the beginning of what the Pentagon admits is a complicated process.

Here's a copy of the Pentagon's Report for your reading pleasure.


Towleroad News #gay

—  David Taffet

What’s Brewing: Pentagon to unveil DADT plan; Ugandan gay activist David Kato laid to rest

Your weekday morning blend from Instant Tea:

1. The Pentagon will roll out its plan today for the training and rules changes needed to implement a repeal of “don’t ask don’t tell.” The training is expected to take three months, meaning full implementation of repeal could come sometime this summer. No word on whether the Pentagon plan includes ending attempts to collect money from people like Army Lt. Dan Choi, who was discharged under DADT and recently received a bill saying he owed $2,500 for unfinished service. Needless to say, Choi told the Pentagon to suck it.

2. Murdered gay rights activist David Kato was laid to rest in Uganda. Sadly, a pastor preaching at the service at one point told homosexuals to repent, before being cut off by mourners and replaced. And unbelievably, Ugandan police say they don’t believe Kato’s status as a gay rights activist had anything to do with his murder. Police say they believe theft was the motive despite witness accounts that someone came into Kato’s house and beat him to death with a hammer before leaving. Above is a report from CNN on Kato’s murder.

3. The Washington Post claims the Republican Party is moving to the left on gay rights. While we don’t dispute this assertion entirely, we’d like to point out that two of their five examples involve Texas GOP lawmakers pandering for votes and money, then promptly remaining as anti-gay ever by voting against the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell.”

—  John Wright

Log Cabin urges court to sustain DADT case

Associated Press

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. — A gay rights group is asking a federal appeals court in California to keep considering whether a trial judge properly struck down the U.S. military’s ban on gays serving openly in the military.

Lawyers for Log Cabin Republicans filed a brief Monday, Jan. 10 arguing that because the ban has not been lifted, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals needs to maintain its schedule in the government’s challenge to the lower court’s ruling.

It came in response to a Justice Department motion seeking to suspend the case for at least three months. The department faces a Jan. 24 deadline for submitting opening arguments.

Government lawyers say putting the appeal on hold would allow the Pentagon to focus on training troops and other tasks necessary for completing the repeal of the ban.

Congress has agreed to repeal the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy.

—  John Wright

What’s Brewing: Chick-fil-A downplays anti-gay sponsorship; Gates on DADT repeal; Lady Gaga

1. Chick-fil-A is attempting to downplay its sponsorship of two upcoming events hosted by the anti-gay Pennsylvania Family Institute, releasing a statement Thursday on Facebook saying a “local operator” had simply agreed to provide greasy-ass food. In the meantime, however, LGBT blogs have uncovered several additional connections between the company and anti-gay groups. Fool me once …

2. Defense Secretary Robert Gates says the Pentagon is moving fast to end “don’t ask don’t tell,” with military leaders expected to begin training troops on the change “in a very few weeks.” The troop training is part of a three-step process outlined by Gates on Wednesday in his first public comments about DADT since President Barack Obama signed the bill repealing the policy.

3. Lady Gaga unveils Polaroid sunglasses that take photos, video (video above).

—  John Wright

Bigot of the Day: Texas Rep. Mike Conaway

Rep. Mike Conaway

Despite a Pentagon study that recommends just the opposite, Texas Republican Congressman Mike Conaway continues to spew right-wing propaganda by suggesting that repealing “don’t ask, don’t tell” will force the military to build separate living facilities for gay and lesbian troops. Conaway also says he thinks DADT is currently working “unless you intend to make sexuality your No. 1 issue when you wake up in the morning.” Which, of course, is precisely what Conaway is doing. From the San Angelo Standard Times:

“You’re going to accommodate folks’ preferences as to whether or not they want to be in the same sleeping arrangements or bathroom facilities, all those kinds of things,” Rep. Mike Conaway, a Republican from Midland, said Monday. …

“Apparently their housing arrangements are not set up in that direction,” Conaway said. “And if you have to segment them further from what they are just between men and women, then you’re going to have to provide additional facilities that weren’t provided before. …

“I think my final conclusion was it’s a policy that’s currently working unless you intend to make sexuality your No. 1 issue when you wake up in the morning,” he said.

We’re not sure why the Standard Times is even bothering to publish this crap at this point, but at least the story goes on to note that Conaway is dead wrong:

The Pentagon study released Nov. 30 on the effect of a repeal recommended that “the Department of Defense expressly prohibit berthing or billeting assignments or the designation of bathroom facilities based on sexual orientation.”

Commanders would retain authority to alter those assignments or accommodate concerns about privacy on a case-by-case basis, the study said.

“Most concerns we heard about showers and bathrooms were based on stereotype,” the study said.

The study also indicated 70 percent of military members surveyed believed doing away with the policy would have mixed, positive or no effect.

—  John Wright