Mr. President, Tear Down This Policy!

On June 12, 1987 President Reagan (yes, that President Reagan) stood at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin and challenged General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, Michhail Gorbachev, to

…come here to this gate. Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate. Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!

And while it won't make history or be remembered in any way (although it might dredged up fifty years hence thanks to Google), I now, standing at my Internet gateway, challenge the President of United States, the Commander in Chief of the United States Military, Barack Obama, to

Tear Down This Policy!

and end Don't Ask, Don't Tell now, for good, and forever.

DADT,Choi

 

With yesterday's decision (PDF) by US District Court Judge Virginia Philips declaring the Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy unconstitutional, the last shred of rationale has been stripped from the President's arguments for not acting.

No, Mr. President, you no longer have to faithfully execute this law, because this law has been declared unconstitutional.

No, Mr. President, you no longer have to defend this law in court, because this law has been declared unconstituional.

No, Mr. President, you no longer have to wait for Congress to repeal this law, because this law has been declared unconstitutional.

And no, Mr. President, you no longer need worry about 'process' or how the military brass will react, because you took an oath to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States, and this law has been declared unconstitutional..
 

In the speech you gave yesterday Mr. President, you said

But you didn't elect me to do what's easy. You didn't elect me to just read the polls and figure out how to keep myself in office. You didn't elect me to avoid big problems. You elected me to do what's right. And as long as I'm President, that's exactly what I'll do.

Mr. President, this is the right thing to do.  You've said it yourself many times.  In fact, Judge Philips quoted you saying just that in her decision!

Reversing this policy is the right thing to do ((and)) is essential for our national security.

And you know what?  Not only is it the right thing to do, but doing it now is going to help you keep yourself and your party in office.  Democrats are in danger of losing both the House and the Senate, mostly because of the lack of enthusiasm of your supporters, not because you are outnumbered.

No, repealing Don't Ask Don't Tell isn't going to change the unemployment rate or cause businesses to start hiring, but it will be a huge boost to the morale of your troops on the ground — those rousting up the votes for House and Senate candidates in November you so dearly need.  Because you will have kept your promise.

Keep this promise.

Embrace Lt. Daniel Choi and scores of others who have been cast aside; stand before the American people (who support repeal by an overwhelming majority) and tell them that you have ended this unjust, immoral, and unconstitutional policy as of NOW, and it will be a political coup.

gay coffins

Sure, the right-wing fundamentalists' heads will explode.  But that's a good thing.  They'll be flaming away on national television, looking like raving lunatics while the sane rest of America looks on, wondering how anyone could possibly listen to such people.  And meanwhile you will be standing tall as the Commander-in-Chief, having done what is right.

So Mr. President.  Do it.  Now.  Announce that effective immediately, because Don't Ask, Don't Tell is unconstitutional, because it is unjust, immoral and insane, you have ordered the United States Armed Forces to no longer investigate or pursue anyone in this regard.  As Judge Philips put it:

The Don't Ask, Don't Tell Act infringes the fundamental rights of United States servicemembers…

So say we all.

DADT

(DADT protest at the White House fence circa 1993)
Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

—  John Wright

Federal Court Overturns Military’s ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ Policy: Read the Ruling Here

A federal judge has declared the military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy unconstitutional and barred the military from enforcing it, ruling in a case brought by the Log Cabin Republicans.

Soldier The L.A. Times reports:

"A federal judge in Riverside declared the U.S. military’s ban on openly gay service members unconstitutional Thursday, saying the 'don't ask, don't tell' policy violates the 1st Amendment rights of lesbians and gay men. U.S. District Court Judge Virginia A. Phillips said the policy banning gays did not preserve military readiness, contrary to what many supporters have argued, saying evidence shows that the policy in fact had a 'direct and deleterious effect' on the military. Phillips said she would issue an injunction barring the government from enforcing the policy. However, the U.S. Department of Justice, which defended 'don’t ask, don’t tell' during a two-week trial in Riverside, will have an opportunity to appeal that decision."

Phillips has given the plaintiffs until September 16 to submit a proposed judgment, including a permanent injunction, consistent with the Court's opinion. The Department of Justice then must submit its objections by September 23.

Said LCR executive director R. Clarke Cooper: "As an American, a veteran and an Army reserve officer, I am proud the court ruled that the arcane ‘don't ask, don't tell’ statute violates the Constitution. Today, the ruling is not just a win for Log Cabin Republican service members, but all American service members."

The court agreed to hear the case on June 29. Earlier in June, the Department of Justice asked the judge to defer proceedings in the case "because the political branches have taken concrete steps to facilitate repeal of the DADT statute." 

Closing arguments were held in the case on July 23, at which time the plaintiffs asked the court to declare the policy unconstitutional and issue an injunction, which Phillips did today.

The AP adds: "Government lawyers argued Phillips lacked the authority to issue a nationwide injunction and the issue should be decided by Congress…Six military officers who were discharged under the policy testified during the trial. A decorated Air Force officer testified that he was let go after his peers snooped through his personal e-mail in Iraq…Lawyers also submitted remarks by Obama stating 'don't ask, don't tell' weakens national security."

Alex-nicholson The case through which the law was struck down, Log Cabin Republicans vs. U.S.A., was originally filed in 2004. Servicemembers United's Executive Director, J. Alexander Nicholson (pictured), is the sole named injured party in the lawsuit.

Said Nicholson, a former multi-lingual U.S. Army interrogator who was discharged under 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell.': "This is an historic moment and an historic ruling for the gay military community and for the readiness and integrity of our Armed Forces. As the only named injured party in this case, I am exceedingly proud to have been able to represent all who have been impacted and had their lives ruined by this blatantly unconstitutional policy. We are finally on our way to vindication." 

HERE'S THE RULING:

DADT Unconstitutional


Towleroad News #gay

—  John Wright

Federal Court Overturns Military’s ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ Policy: Read the Ruling Here

A federal judge has declared the military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy unconstitutional and barred the military from enforcing it, ruling in a case brought by the Log Cabin Republicans.

Soldier The L.A. Times reports:

"A federal judge in Riverside declared the U.S. military’s ban on openly gay service members unconstitutional Thursday, saying the 'don't ask, don't tell' policy violates the 1st Amendment rights of lesbians and gay men. U.S. District Court Judge Virginia A. Phillips said the policy banning gays did not preserve military readiness, contrary to what many supporters have argued, saying evidence shows that the policy in fact had a 'direct and deleterious effect' on the military. Phillips said she would issue an injunction barring the government from enforcing the policy. However, the U.S. Department of Justice, which defended 'don’t ask, don’t tell' during a two-week trial in Riverside, will have an opportunity to appeal that decision."

Phillips has given the plaintiffs until September 16 to submit a proposed judgment, including a permanent injunction, consistent with the Court's opinion. The Department of Justice then must submit its objections by September 23.

Said LCR executive director R. Clarke Cooper: "As an American, a veteran and an Army reserve officer, I am proud the court ruled that the arcane ‘don't ask, don't tell’ statute violates the Constitution. Today, the ruling is not just a win for Log Cabin Republican service members, but all American service members."

The court agreed to hear the case on June 29. Earlier in June, the Department of Justice asked the judge to defer proceedings in the case "because the political branches have taken concrete steps to facilitate repeal of the DADT statute." 

Closing arguments were held in the case on July 23, at which time the plaintiffs asked the court to declare the policy unconstitutional and issue an injunction, which Phillips did today.

The AP adds: "Government lawyers argued Phillips lacked the authority to issue a nationwide injunction and the issue should be decided by Congress…Six military officers who were discharged under the policy testified during the trial. A decorated Air Force officer testified that he was let go after his peers snooped through his personal e-mail in Iraq…Lawyers also submitted remarks by Obama stating 'don't ask, don't tell' weakens national security."

Alex-nicholson The case through which the law was struck down, Log Cabin Republicans vs. U.S.A., was originally filed in 2004. Servicemembers United's Executive Director, J. Alexander Nicholson (pictured), is the sole named injured party in the lawsuit.

Said Nicholson, a former multi-lingual U.S. Army interrogator who was discharged under 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell.': "This is an historic moment and an historic ruling for the gay military community and for the readiness and integrity of our Armed Forces. As the only named injured party in this case, I am exceedingly proud to have been able to represent all who have been impacted and had their lives ruined by this blatantly unconstitutional policy. We are finally on our way to vindication." 

HERE'S THE RULING:

DADT Unconstitutional


Towleroad News #gay

—  John Wright

Wow, unexpected: Terrible #DADT policy earns awesome court smackdown

A federal court in California today ruled in favor of plaintiffs in the case challenging the constitutionality of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

U.S. District Court Judge Virginia Phillips decided in favor of Log Cabin Republicans and their lawsuit against the 1993 law banning open service in the U.S. military.

BREAKING STORY: Federal court overturns ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ [Wash. Blade]

**FULL OPINION:



DADT — US District, virginia phillips

**MORE: Servicemembers United’s statement:

This is an historic moment and an historic ruling for the gay military community,” said Alexander Nicholson, Executive Director of Servicemembers United and a multi-lingual U.S. Army interrogator who was discharged under ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.’ “As the only named injured party in this case, I am exceedingly proud to have been able to represent all who have been impacted and had their lives ruined by this blatantly unconstitutional policy. We are finally on our way to vindication.




Good As You

—  John Wright

The Problems With Focus On The Family’s And The Alliance Defense Fund’s Model Anti-Bullying Policy

Thumbnail Link To TrueTolerance.org's/The Alliance Defense Fund's 'Model Anti-Bullying Policy for All Schools'Focus On The Family, via their activism arm CitizenLink, has been using their website to promote the Alliance Defense Fund’s (ADF’s) Model Anti-Bullying Policy. When I read the model policy, I saw the problem with the lack of enumeration, and contacted the Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network (GLSEN) to get their statement on the Model Anti-Bullying Policy. Also, I vaguely remembered their was documentation on why enumeration is important in bullying policies, and wanted to know they had information on the relevant court rulings and statistical documentation.

During my phone communication with their media relations department, I learned there are actually four significant issues with the ADF’s Model Anti-Bullying Policy that Focus On The Family’s/CitizenLink‘s Education Annalist Candi Cushman is pushing in the media. (You remember Candi Cushman: she’s the point person that CitizenLink has declared on their website is “a  leading national expert on education issues” without providing corroboration as to how or why she is a leading national expert in this field.) So here are the four major issues with the Model Anti-Bullying Policy:

  1. Enumeration.
  2. Lack of a training component.
  3. Over-limitation on locations where school bullying falls under the policy; over-limitation on when school bullying falls under the policy.
  4. Overemphasis on free speech.

Point by point:

1. Enumeration.

GLSEN has a document available on the importance of enumeration — simply entitled “Enumeration,” and it references theirs and Harris Interactive’s From Teasing to Torment: School Climate in America; A Survey of Students and Teachers and The 2007 National School Climate Survey: The experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth in our nation’s schools.

In a legal sense, enumeration refers to the identification of categories — of people or things — to which a law applies. In anti-bullying laws, in hate crime laws, in laws that protect against discrimination — these categories are referred to as protected classes.

One of the main reasons to spell out protected classes regards how students are better protected from bullying where enumerated polices exist.

[More below the fold.]
To quote from GLSEN’s Enumeration:

Students who attend schools with policies that enumerate categories report less bullying and harassment then students who do not.

• Research has shown that students in states with non-enumerated laws are no more protected from bullying than students who live in states without any anti-bullying and harassment laws (74.3% with generic policies vs. 75.0% with no policies report ‘often or frequently’ hearing homophobic remarks based on sexual orientation).

Thumbnail Link to Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network's (GLSEN's) 'Enumeration'• Students report less overall harassment when they know their school has a comprehensive policy that includes enumeration. Students from schools with an enumerated policy report that others are harassed far less often in their school for reasons like their physical appearance (36% vs. 52%), their sexual orientation (32% vs. 43%) or their gender expression (26% vs. 37%).

• Students whose schools have a policy that specifically includes sexual orientation and gender identity/expression are less likely than other students to report a serious harassment problem at their school (33% vs. 44%).

Enumeration is essential if laws are to be implemented.

• History and the Supreme Court tell us that enumerating policies is necessary. Girls would not have sports and our schools would not be integrated if policymakers had not specifically addressed these inequities by enumerating categories like sex and race in our laws. The Supreme Court of the United States noted in Romer v. Evans that “enumeration is the essential device used to make the duty not to discriminate concrete and to provide guidance for those who must comply (Romer v. Evans 517 U.S. 620 (1996).”

• Enumeration gives teachers and other educators the tools they need to implement anti-bullying and harassment policies, which makes it easier for them to intervene to prevent bullying. School personnel often fear that they will themselves be targeted for intervening on behalf of LGBT students. When they can point to language that provides clear protection for LGBT students, they feel more comfortable enforcing the policy. Students reported that teachers were significantly more likely to intervene always or most of the time in states with enumerated policies, as compared to states with either non-enumerated policies or no policies at all (25.3% vs. 15.9% and 12.3%).

Comprehensive policies with enumeration help ensure safety and reduce absenteeism.

• Students from schools with an enumerated policy are 50% more likely to feel very safe at school (54% vs. 36%). Students without such a policy are three times more likely to skip a class because they feel uncomfortable or unsafe (16% vs. 5%).

Unlike GLSEN, the Alliance Defense Fund and Focus On The Family — on their TrueTolerance.org — don’t list studies that support their conclusion that anti-bulling polices that don’t enumerate protect students better than enumerated policies. Unlike GLSEN, Focus On The Family has not funded its own studies to determine if their model policy actually does what thay state it will do. In fact, one of their bullet points on the subject actually states:

Statistics also indicate that race, ethnicity issues, and even opposite-sex harassment actually account for more bullying problems, than do homosexual-related issues.

If, as Focus On The Family states

• Focus on the Family believes that bullying should be recognized as a serious problem and should be strongly addressed.

• We believe schools can address this issue with a strong prohibition against any form of bullying-for any reason, against any child.

…Why point out which group is bullied more, or bullied less? This isn’t the Oppression Olympics, but the Alliance Defense Fund, Focus On The Family, and specifically Focus on the Family Action (CitizenLink) Education Analyst Candi Cushman, are trying to make this the Oppression Olympics. Specifically, Candi Cushman stated (emphasis added):

…In fact, when you look at the more objective data sources, and not just the information coming from gay activist groups, physical appearance-or the general concept of appearing different than one’s peers — is actually the most common reason reported for why victims are targeted. This can involve a whole slew of issues, such as one’s weight, a girl who is developing faster than others, a child who wears glasses, or a boy who acts more effeminate than his peers, etc, etc. In fact, statistics indicate that race, ethnicity issues, and even opposite-sex harassment actually account for more bullying problems, than do homosexual-related issues.

It’s sure appears to me that Candi Cushman is defining how serious bullying is against individual students by puting it in the terms of how many in each catagory are bullied. It seems to me that Candi Cushman is framing anti-LGBTQ bullying as a lesser form of bullying then of bullying for race or gender — she’s more than implying that because the quantity of students who are bullied for being perceived as being LGBTQ are less in numbers than other forms of bullying, it’s not a serious problem.

2. Lack of a training component.

There is no training component to Focus On The Family’s and the Alliance Defense Fund’s Model Anti-Bullying Policy.

Think about that for a moment. How is a teacher or administrator going to know how to identify what constitutes bullying — identifying bullying that falls under the parameters of a school district’s policies? How does a teacher or administrator recognize the students who are being bullied if one doesn’t know what typical bullying of specific types of students looks like? How is a teacher or administrator going to know, by district policy, when he, she, or ze is supposed to intervene in accordance with the policy? What are intervening actions are the teacher or administrator is supposed to take if he, she, or ze determines bullying has occurred? How is a teacher or administrator going to know what intervening actions are effective, and what intervening actions are ineffective? — and could make the bullying escalate?

With no training component spelled out in Model Anti-Bullying Policy, Focus On The Family’s and the Alliance Defense Fund’s Model Anti-Bullying Policy, the bad outcomes that GLSEN’s studies indicate in Enumeration document seem assured.

3. Over-limitation on locations where school bullying falls under the policy; over-limitation on when school bullying falls under the policy.

This is what the Model Anti-Bullying Policy states about where the policy applies:

The District prohibits all bullying on school premises, at school-sponsored functions or activities, or on school-sponsored transportation.

Thumbnail Link to GLSEN's 'Victimization Relates To Lowered School Connectedness For LGBT Youth, Institutional Support Relates To Greater Connectedness, GLSEN Article Finds'This is the definition of these locations:

B. “School Premises” means any building, structure, athletic field, sports stadium or other real property owned, operated, leased or rented by the District or one of its schools, including, but not limited to, any kindergarten, elementary, secondary, or vocational-technical school.

C. “School-Sponsored Functions or Activities” means a field trip, sporting event, or any other function or activity that is officially sponsored by the District or one of its schools.

D. “School-Sponsored Transportation” means a motor vehicle owned, operated, leased, rented or subcontracted by the District or one of its schools.

This means that students who don’t take the school bus to and from school are subject to bullying that doesn’t fall under the district anti-bullying policy if they walk, ride a bike, or take a privately owned vehicle to school. This means that all bullying that takes place on a public sidewalk or street in front of the school doesn’t fall under the district anti-bullying policy. This means that all cyberbullying that is initiated via electronic devices that are not physically on school property when the cyberbullying is initiated is cyberbullying that doesn’t fall under the district anti-bullying policy.

A student bully essentially just has to move his bullying off-campus, off school buses, and away from within the confines of school-sponsored events to engage in bullying that impacts his, her, or hir chosen bullying victims.

And remember, bullying can include physical violence.

4. Overemphasis on free speech.

The last line in the Model Anti-Bullying Policy states this:

This policy shall not be interpreted to infringe upon the First Amendment rights of students, and is not intended to prohibit expression of religious, philosophical, or political views, provided that such expression does not cause an actual, material disruption of the work of the school.

Thumbnail Link To Citizen Magazine's (Focus On The Family's) Parents Beware; 'Anti-Bullying' Initiatives Are Gay Activists' Latest Tools Of Choice For Sneaking Homosexuality Lessons Into Classrooms Note that the first listed protected viewpoint listed  is religious. That means an Evangelical or Pentecostal Christian student is free to tell lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) students as frequently as he or she desires:

You homosexuals are an abomination to God, and are going to hell.

As long as an Evangelical or Pentecostal Christian student does not cause an actual, material disruption of the work of the school — which I’m assuming means doesn’t disrupt work in the classroom — this would not be administratively considered creating a hostile school environment for LGBTQ students. So a bullying Christian student could repeat this over and over again as long as he or she said this to LGBTQ students between classes and during lunch period.

This means that a transgender elementary school student could be harassed with faith-based free speech as frequently as frequently as a peer Evangelical or Pentecostal Christian student desires — except when that faith-based free speech causes an actual, material disruption of the work of the school. Recess and lunch then are fair game in the school day to harass transgender elementary school children.

The Alliance Defense Fund’s and Focus On The Family’s Model Anti-Bullying Policy is designed specifically to let Evangelical or Pentecostal Christian students (and their Evangelical or Pentecostal Christian parents) to create hostile school environments for LGBTQ-identified students.

And let’s again remember the woman who is currently pushing the meme “Anti-Bullying” Initiatives Are Gay Activists’ Latest Tools Of Choice For Sneaking Homosexuality Lessons Into Classrooms. She’s the education expert…right?

~~~~~~

Further reading:

* Twin Cities Daily Planet: Mother: Anoka-Hennepin School policy contributed to gay son’s suicide

* GLSEN: An Open Letter from GLSEN Board Member Sirdeaner Walker to Candi Cushman at Focus on the Family

Related:

* AFA Highlights/Recycles FOTF Campaign Against Perceived Gay Public School Agenda

* Focus On The Family/CitizenLink Sees “Sneaky” Gay Agenda In The Public Schools

.
Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

—  John Wright

Maddow: “If DADT is going to end, the President could stop enforcement of that policy, pending that change. Why isn’t he?”

Rachel Maddow closed her show last night with a rather strong broadside against Robert Gibbs and President Obama, over DADT, but more generally, over everything. Rachel says this White House refuses to spend political capital, refuses to show guts. She says the White House won’t stop the DADT discharges now because “it would be hard.” She concludes:

“If DADT is going to end, the President could stop enforcement of that policy, pending that change. Why isn’t he?”

Why isn’t he? Because either the policy isn’t ending, or the President is afraid of something. Afraid of standing up to the Pentagon (remember, THEY work for HIM), afraid of spending political capital, afraid of making Republicans angry, afraid of doing anything that in any way might seem “controversial.”

It’s interesting that Rachel did this, since the White House made quite a big deal recently over her recent broadcast in which she praised Obama and his accomplishments. I’m guessing the White House won’t be sharing this video with anyone. It’s spot on.




AMERICAblog Gay

—  John Wright