President Obama issues memorandum on protecting LGBTs abroad

President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton

Four days in advance of  Human Rights Day on Saturday, Dec. 10,  President Barack Obama today issued a presidential memorandum “to ensure that U.S. diplomacy and foreign assistance promote and protect the human rights of LGBT persons,” according to a statement just released by the White House press office.

The statement sent out by the White House includes these comments by the president:

“The struggle to end discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) persons is a global challenge, and one that is central to the United States commitment to promoting human rights.  I am deeply concerned by the violence and discrimination targeting LGBT persons around the world — whether it is passing laws that criminalize LGBT status, beating citizens simply for joining peaceful LGBT pride celebrations, or killing men, women, and children for their perceived sexual orientation.  That is why I declared before heads of state gathered at the United Nations, “no country should deny people their rights because of who they love, which is why we must stand up for the rights of gays and lesbians everywhere.”  Under my Administration, agencies engaged abroad have already begun taking action to promote the fundamental human rights of LGBT persons everywhere.  Our deep commitment to advancing the human rights of all people is strengthened when we as the United States bring our tools to bear to vigorously advance this goal.”

The memorandum from Obama directs agencies to combat the criminalization of LGBT status or conduct abroad; protect vulnerable LGBT refugees and asylum seekers; leverage foreign assistance to protect human rights and advance nondiscrimination; ensure swift and meaningful U.S. responses to human rights abuses of LGBT persons abroad; engage international organizations in the fight against LGBT discrimination, and report on progress.

I give the president credit for issuing the memorandum at the same time he’s gearing up for what will likely be a tough re-election campaign during which opponents will no doubt use his stance and actions on LGBT issues against him. But I still have to point out that we as LGBT people still face discrimination and inequality right here in the good old U.S.-of-A:

• Our marriages are legally recognized at the federal level and they aren’t recognized in the VAST majority of state and local jurisdictions. We want the Defense of Marriage Act repealed and local and state ordinances and constitutional amendments prohibiting recognition of our relationships need to be overturned.

• There is still no federal protection against workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation and/gender expression and gender identity. Congress needs to pass — the president needs to sign — the Employment Non-Discrimination Act.

• Even though there is now a federal hate crimes law that includes LGBT people, as well as similar laws at many state and local levels, those laws are not well enforced.

Anti-LGBT bullying remains a deadly problem in our schools and our workplaces and on the Internet. We’ve made progress in combating such bullying, but not nearly enough. Dedicate the resources necessary to address the issue effectively.

So let’s applaud our president for the steps he has — and is — taking. There’s no doubt Obama has been more open than any other president about addressing LGBT issues and we have seen great strides forward toward equality during his administration. But there’s a long way to go yet, and we need to make sure that the president — and all our elected officials — know they can’t just rest on their laurels.

—  admin

‘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

Watch: Wingnut Cindy Jacobs Says Mass Bird and Fish Deaths are Because ‘DADT’ Was Repealed

Jacobs

Wingnut Cindy Jacobs, of Generals International ministry, has revealed the reason for the mass fish and bird deaths. it's because "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" was repealed.

…let’s talk about this Arkansas pattern and say, could it be a pattern? We’re going to watch and see. But the blackbirds fell to the ground in Beebe, Arkansas. Well the Governor of Arkansas’ name is Beebe. And also, there was something put out of Arkansas called "Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell" by a former Governor, this was proposed, Bill Clinton. As so, could there be a connection between this passage [Hosea 4] and now that we’ve had the repeal of the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, where people now legally in the United States have broken restraints with the Scripture because the Scripture says in Romans 1 that homosexuality is not allowed.

It could be because we have said it’s okay for people who commit these kinds of acts to be recognized in our military for the first time in our history, there is a potential that there is something that actually happened in the land where a hundred thousand drum fish died and also where these birds just fell out of the air.

Watch, AFTER THE JUMP

(right wing watch via truth wins out)



Towleroad News #gay

—  admin

Robert Knight: DADT was repealed because Republicans wouldn’t get gross about homosexuality

crossposted on Holy Bullies and Headless Monsters

knight For some, the need to stigmatize the lgbt community based on their constant desire to remind folks about gay sex never goes away.

Robert Knight of Coral Ridge Ministries has made a career out of spreading anti-gay propaganda and lies, even to the point of citing the discredited Paul Cameron in front of Congress. And in a recent piece in The Washington Times – one of the only places that will publish his nonsense -  Knight is claiming that Don't Ask, Don't Tell was repealed because Republicans refused to get nasty about homosexuality:

Instead of using the military debate to bring to light many suppressed facts that could cripple the homosexual juggernaut if Americans only knew, they played by their opponents' rule book.

In “After the Ball,” a 1989 gay-strategy manual, two Harvard-trained public relations experts warn that “the public should not be shocked and repelled by premature exposure to homosexual behavior itself. Instead, the imagery of sex per se should be downplayed, and the issue of gay rights reduced, as far as possible, to an abstract social question.” Elsewhere, the authors say, “first, you get your foot in the door by being as similar as possible; then and only then … can you start dragging in your other peculiarities, one by one. You hammer in the wedge narrow end first … allow the camel's nose beneath your tent, and his whole body will soon follow.”

For the record, the majority of lgbts never heard of After the Ball, but for some reason, the religious right continues to claim that the lgbt community is using this book as some sort of manual to take over America by utilizing tactics, i.e. planning groups, money, secret organizations, that the religious right themselves are guilty of.

Knight then proceeds to catalog a bunch of things he feels Republicans should have brought up:

* Flawed science has been misused mightily. From Alfred Kinsey's fraudulent research in the 1940s to UCLA Prof. Evelyn Hooker's cooked psychological studies in the late 1950s to misreported “genetic” studies of the 1990s, the public has been browbeaten into ignoring biology, common sense and thousands of years of moral teaching about human sexuality.

* The obvious threat to the military blood supply. According to the Centers for Disease Control, men who have sex with men are 44 times more likely to have HIV and 46 more times to have syphilis. Even if gay men enter the services testing negatively, they're going to have sex in the most likely pool in which to become infected.

* Data compiled by the Family Research Council showing that homosexuals commit a disproportionate number of sexual assaults in the military, even with the “Don't Ask, Don't Tell” policy.

Notice how he never says just how the studies of Kinsey and Hooker were flawed, how he gives himself an out in talking about the blood supply by the “even if” addendum, and how he cites the Family Research Council's useless study, which no one else cited. Knight conveniently forgot to mention the “coincidence” of the discredited Paul Cameron coming out with the same type of study a week before FRC did.
 
The irony of Knight's position is the realization that 17 years ago, Republicans and those who didn't support gays and lesbians serving openly in the military did pull out the horror stories. They talked about “gay sex,” “the gay agenda,” “fisting,” and even pulled the “gay assault” card.

But things have changed.  Homophobia still exists but for the most part, more of us are out and unashamed of who we are despite the efforts of those like Knight. Americans know more of us and the lies about us being an invading horde of Godless creatures just isn't resonating like they used to.

The sad thing is that no one told Knight. But I don't think he would care if anyone did tell him. He seems to be willfully stuck in the past.

Note – In the Southern Poverty Law Center's profile of anti-gay hate groups, Robert Knight's name comes up many times.
Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

—  admin

Zack Ford – We Made It Through: Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell “Repealed”

Crossposted on ZackFord Blogs.

 Rainbow FlagIf you haven't already heard, today was a very important victory in repeal of the military's Don't Ask, Don't Tell provision. With an impressive 63 votes, the stand-alone bill achieved cloture in the US Senate this morning, and picked up 2 more Republican votes to pass this afternoon. It's a proud moment in LGBT history, and it's a credit to every individual and every organization who advocated for this change!

Still, I find myself not as excited as I thought I would. While many in the movement are rightfully celebrating a victory lap, my reaction feels a lot more like "It's about damn time." You might say that sounds ungrateful. I'd say you're right.

My point of view is that this is good, but it's still not good enough. My bar is high; nothing short of full equality is good enough. I look at this, and it's an important victory, but it also feels like the smallest possible victory we could have gotten. DADT isn't off the books yet. We took a compromise way back in the Spring (remember? when the President didn't want Congress to pursue any legislative repeal efforts) such that the bill doesn't actually repeal, it just allows for repeal. It'll still be a couple months (at least) before our LGB servicemembers can finally serve with integrity. We still have to advocate for that day to come, and then we have the long haul of education to diminish the prejudice throughout the ranks that made this such a tough obstacle.

I actually worry that the movement might be overly gracious. It certainly has a history of giving lots of credit to leaders when they grace us with every little accommodation or amount of visibility. I've heard plenty of folks ready to give President Obama credit for being so committed (and even spending political capital) to make this happen. I'm not sure I'm inclined to agree anymore than I gave him credit for signing the hate crimes bill last year. If he was actively calling Senators this month, it'd be nice to know about it. He didn't even make a public appearance to comment on today's passage.

Let's not forget the very cruel public condemnation we had to listen to before we could get to this point. I think Senator McCain sincerely believes that Marines are going to lose legs because they're so distracted by all the gay sex that's going to happen around them. How a servicemember's freedom to email their partner back home inhibits the capability of other troops to perform at 110% is beyond me. We also heard plenty of people say that DADT has "worked." It is impossible to defend DADT without defending homophobia, but that's what we heard. It's too much trouble to allow gays and lesbians to be honest because it's better that they suffer than to disturb the homophobia of some of the other troops. This is nasty, demonizing language that reminds us how inhuman many still find us to be. Even once we achieve full legal equality, we will have a LONG way to go.

Another disappointing reality of the day is how it feels that DADT repeal was passed on the back of the DREAM Act. It reminded me of how bittersweet I felt about the election of Barack Obama and the passage of Proposition 8. There are thousands of young people who are eager to give back to the only nation they've known, but because they are undocumented, they have no pathway to citizenship. They are being punished for doing nothing, which strikes me as being cruel and unusual. The DREAM Act would have been good for them, good for the military, good for education, and good for the economy. Unfortunately, xenophobia won out, and thanks to Republicans, these young people continue to exist without real options for their lives. There was incredible cross-support between DADT and DREAM, and the inability of DREAM to proceed is a crushing reminder of the overall ineffectiveness of the Senate, the potential for Republicans to politically obstruct, and the importance of us all advocating outside our own communities and issues.

We mourn the indefinite death of the DREAM Act.

Now more than ever is when we have to push forward. We can be grateful for every step of progress, but every step of progress should support the next. If our leaders are willing to say one form of discrimination against the LGBT community is wrong, then so too should they be ready to say the same of other forms. We must hold them to that and not permit a "that's enough for now" attitude.

Is it as likely to happen with a Republican-controlled House? No. But I don't think the movement is going to cave on ENDA or DOMA-repeal because of that alone.

I just feel like today's victory doesn't erase the conflicts and complaints that we've had. We won in the end, but the criticism from every step of the way is still warranted. The Democratic Party and Gay, Inc. still have to own and learn from their missteps. And ultimately, we all still have a lot of work ahead of us. I totally agree that some folks have worked incredibly hard and earned this victory and deserve a break, but that means they sub out and we press on.

Am I a Debbie Downer? Maybe. But we're not done, and I'd rather keep my eye on the ball.

Game on. 

Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

—  admin

There’s Now a Snowball’s Chance in Hell ‘DADT’ Will be Repealed

Hopes for 'DADT' repeal hit a new low this morning following Harry Reid's announcement of scheduling for the next two weeks in the Senate, in which the Defense Bill, is, at best, an afterthought, at worst, completely dead.

It's nowhere to be seen on the Senate schedule.

Reid In the video (via americablog), after the jump, Reid lays out the schedule for now until December 17th, when the Senate adjourns. In it, there's no mention of the Defense bill, or DADT repeal. Finally, he is prodded by a colleague to say something on the Defense bill.

"Oh yeah, that."

Reid indicates that the major sticking point on the Defense bill is the amendment process. The Republicans, of course, are demanding an "open amendment process" which Reid says is a no-go. Reid says he would be open to considering some amendments if there are time agreements on those amendments.

Watch, AFTER THE JUMP

Meanwhile, GOP Senators are laying out new "bogus" and "arbitrary benchmarks for how long it might take to debate the Defense bill.

And would Reid extend the session into Christmas break to debate the NDAA and DADT?

Also, Kerry Eleveld has a thorough piece on where we stand at the moment. It's not good.



Towleroad News #gay

—  admin

Will West Point Take Lesbian Cadet Katherine Miller Back If DADT Is Repealed?

Katherine Miller, the lesbian West Point cadet who quit in August over Don't Ask Don't Tell just one week before she would have to sign on to two more years at the academy and five years of military service, found life back home in Ohio was also a pretty miserable experience. So now she wants back into the military. If Congress successfully repeals the law that forced her to lie to brass, she's ready to serve her country. I guess the only question, then, is whether West Point wants her back.


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Queerty

—  admin

What it will take to get DADT repealed

An informed source on the Hill spells out exactly what it will take to get DADT repealed in these final weeks of the Democratically-controlled Congress. They argue that Reid saying he will bring up the defense bill with DADT included is a good first step, but it’s not enough:

This is a good, real step. But I have no evidence that any muscle will be behind it. I will need to see Reid pushing, mobilizing, leading. He will need to keep votes like Ben Nelson and get votes like Webb and Pryor and Manchin. I have no confidence that any Republican Senator will join us — without Secretary Gates calling them. We lost Burris and perhaps don’t have Manchin, Nelson, Pryor, and Webb. So we need at least five or six Rs to be safe. Impossible to do without Gates — all hinges on Gates and Obama personally lobbying — or without Reid leading Dems on the Floor in a public shaming.

For those who, in the past, thought that it was enough for the President, or a member of Congress, to simply state publicly that they desired a certain policy outcome, this is what a President, or Senate Majority Leader, does when they ACTUALLY want to win something. They don’t just put out a statement. They actually work it, hard, behind the scenes (in addition to publicly), with lots of personal lobbying.




AMERICAblog Gay

—  admin

Watch: Rudy Giuliani Says GOP Should ‘Ease Up’ on Gay Rights, Thinks ‘DADT’ Can Be Repealed Now

Giuliani

Rudy Giuliani told Wolf Blitzer today that he thinks it would be politically wise for Republicans to stop demonizing gays and says 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' is ready to go, now:

"My feeling about Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell was, in the middle of the height of the Iraq war, not a good time to do it. We’re not in the middle of the height of the Iraq war. Afghanistan is a different kind of thing. You could probably accomplish it now. It’s eventually going to happen and it seems to me that it gets my party out of this anti-gay, feeling that we’re being unfair to people who are gay."

Watch, AFTER THE JUMP



Towleroad News #gay

—  admin