For the Dec. 2 hearing, the witnesses are set to include Gates and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen as well as the co-chairs of the Pentagon working group: Jeh Johnson, the Pentagon’s general counsel, and Gen. Carter Ham, commander of U.S. Army Europe.
In February testimony before the committee, Mullen has said he supports allowing openly gay people to serve in the U.S. military. Gates has already told reporters that he wants Congress to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”
On Dec. 3, the committee is set to hear testimony from Vice-Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Marine Corps Gen. James Cartwright and the military service chiefs: Army Chief of Staff Gen. George W. Casey; Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Gary Roughead; Marine Corps Gen. James Amos; and Air Force Chief of Staff General Norton Schwartz.
Chris also spoke to Alex Nicholson from Servicemembers United who remains concerned about the timing:
“We’re in a period now where literally every day counts,” Nicholson said. “If they’re holding hearings on Friday, that, I think, runs the risk of bumping off the motion to reconsider until Monday of the following week, which would be a strain on the calendar.”
Because of the previous failures to pass the Defense Authorization legislation, the calendar is now our biggest enemy — and the opponents of DADT repeal, led by John McCain, will try to. use the calendar to their advantage.
The Senate Armed Services Committee is planning two days of hearings on December 2nd and 3rd regarding the Pentagon's report on repealing 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell', which is scheduled for release on Tuesday, the WaPo reports:
"The panel, led by Chairman Carl Levin (D-Mich.) and ranking member Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), will hear from Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates; Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen; and the co- chairmen of the Pentagon Working Group, Defense Department General Counsel Jeh Johnson and Army Gen. Carter Ham on Thursday. The next day, in a nod to McCain's wishes to hear from the military's top brass on the issue, the committee will hear testimony from Joint Chiefs of Staff Vice Chairman Gen. James E. Cartwright, Army Chief of Staff Gen. George W. Casey Jr., Naval Chief of Operations Adm. Gary Roughhead, Marine Commandant Gen. James F. Amos and Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton A. Schwartz."
Aubrey Sarvis, executive director of the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, said he’s “hopeful” that Congress will be able to enact repeal, but acknowledged that “the clock is our enemy.”
“I’m fearful of time running out on the bill before it’s finished or the prospects of strong opposition from a core group of senators who don’t want to see anything happen in the lame duck,” Sarvis said.
Debate on the defense authorization bill traditionally takes about two weeks in the Senate. Given that slightly more than one month remains in the legislative session this year, time for a debate and vote in the Senate — as well as time for conferencing the legislation — would have to be compressed to move forward.
According to the 2009 hate crime statistics report released by the FBI yesterday, there were 1,436 reported hate crime offenses based on sexual orientation bias in 2009. Hate crimes based on sexual orientation made up 18.5% of all hate crimes reported to the FBI during this period. This is a slight increase in percentage over 2008 (17.7%).
However, the numbers in the 2009 report show that the total number of hate crimes reported to the FBI, as well as the total number of hate crimes based on sexual orientation bias reported to the FBI, dropped in 2009. While this is promising news at first glance, it is important to understand that the FBI’s hate crime statistics report does not provide a complete picture of the number of hate crimes occurring in America.
The FBI’s hate crime statistics report only represents a sample of the actual number of hate crimes that occurred in 2009. A crime is included in the report only if a law enforcement agency decides to report it to the FBI. Reporting to the FBI is voluntary. Countless incidents are unreported by both victims and agencies. Thus, the FBI’s hate crime statistics report only gives us a glance at a portion of the hate crimes that occur in any given year. A drop in the number of hate crimes reported to the FBI does not necessarily signify an actual decrease in crimes. Instead 2009 report only tells us that there were “at least” 1,436 hate crimes based on sexual orientation bias in 2009.
As in past years, the vast majority of the participating state and local crime reporting agencies (85.9%) reported that zero hate crimes occurred in their jurisdictions. This does not mean that they decided not to report hate crimes; it means that they affirmatively reported to the FBI that there were no hate crimes in their jurisdiction. This is difficult to believe – several large cities reported no crimes within their jurisdiction. In addition, thousands of police agencies across the nation did not provide statistics at all. Because participation is not mandatory and some agencies fail to report, the 2009 report fails to cover approximately 30 million Americans. In order to have a more accurate snapshot of hate crimes in America, state and local law enforcement authorities must be pressed to provide hate crime data to the FBI.
The 2009 report included data regarding crimes motivated by race, religion, sexual orientation, ethnicity/national origin, and/or disability. However, as a result of the 2009 enactment of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, the FBI has a new mandate to begin collecting information on hate crimes motivated by gender identity and gender. While the 2009 report does not include statistics on gender identity or gender, HRC is working with the FBI to revise the hate crime statistics collection guidelines to account for this new mandate.
"Secretary Gates is very concerned and extremely disappointed that unnamed sources within the Department of Defense have selectively revealed aspects of the draft findings of the Comprehensive Review Working Group, presumably to shape perceptions of the report prior to its release.
"The Secretary launched this review in March to objectively ascertain the impact of potential repeal of the ‘Don't Ask, Don't Tell’ law on military readiness, effectiveness, recruiting, retention, unit cohesion and families. He made it clear then and throughout this process that it was ‘critical that this effort be carried out in a professional, thorough and dispassionate manner.’ He has also stated clearly that ‘given the political dimension of this issue, it is equally critical that…every effort be made to shield our men and women in uniform and their families from those aspects of this debate.’
"For nearly nine months the Working Group has operated in strict accordance to that mandate. Anonymous sources now risk undermining the integrity of this process.
"The Secretary strongly condemns the unauthorized release of information related to this report and has directed an investigation to establish who communicated with the Washington Post or any other news organization without authorization and in violation of Department policy and his specific instruction.
"The full report will be made public for all to review early next month. Until then, no one at the Pentagon will comment on its contents.”
They certainly wouldn't want it to have any impact on DADT repeal passing in the lame duck Senate.
A Pentagon study group has concluded that the military can lift the ban on gays serving openly in uniform with only minimal and isolated incidents of risk to the current war efforts, according to two people familiar with a draft of the report, which is due to President Obama on Dec. 1.
Although voters were resoundingly focused on the economy this midterm election – and ranked social issues, to include same-sex marriage dead last– the so-called National Organization for Marriage (NOM), a Washington D.C.-based anti-gay, fringe organization, put an estimated million into the 2009-10 election cycle to influence the outcome in dozens of federal and state races, according to campaign finance filings, NOM and press reports.
While NOM made significant investments this cycle, its electoral win/loss record is decidedly mixed. In fact, NOM lost more races than it won. NOM endorsed at least 29 candidates. As of Wednesday afternoon, NOM had lost 19 of these races, won eight, and the remaining two (the Minnesota governor’s race and a New Hampshire statehouse candidate) were undecided. With the exception of a judicial election they hijacked in Iowa, NOM lost its most expensive and high-profile gambits in California and New Hampshire and all of its races in Maine and the District of Columbia. And it fought campaign finance laws all along the way.
Emory University's student newspaper, The Emory Wheel, is reporting on an incident over the weekend in which a student was "forcibly ejected" from a Sigma-Nu frat party by his neck after it was discovered that he is gay.
According to the alleged victim, his admission that he was gay instigated his forceful removal from the premises. His ejection was accompanied by anti-gay slurs and followed by what he termed “affirmative cheering” from many in attendance.
The student, who has not yet filed a police report and wished to remain unnamed for this story, attended the party at Sigma Nu’s off-campus house with multiple friends after first venturing out to Eagle Row. His particular choice of costume — a lime-green jacket, red pants and a wizard hat — meant that he stood out immediately among the crowd at the house, the student acknowledged.
“At first, when I walked into the party, some people were taking pictures of me and appreciating, if you will, what I was wearing,” he said.
About half an hour later, however, another attendee — confirmed by multiple witnesses as recent alum Adam Smith (’10C) — took the student’s wizard hat and began questioning him.
“This guy approached me and asked why I was wearing my hat. … I said that I like the hat, just as you like your pink shirt. He then asked me if I was gay, and I said I was. He then started choking me with his elbow and put me into a head lock, and he dragged me out of the party by my neck.”
After the student was allegedly dragged the approximately 10 to 15 feet from the house’s common area to the door and thrown onto the front lawn, Smith was overheard telling other attendees “Hey, this kid’s a f****t.”
College junior Sabrina Bernstein, who attended the party with the student, echoed the student's account of the altercation and of the approving reaction of those who realized what was going on.
“[Someone] said something along the lines of ‘Good, now we got that taken care of,’” Bernstein said.
The Sigma-Nu chapter president told the paper that they are taking the incident seriously:
“We’d like the Emory community to know that we are taking this allegation very seriously. We have reviewed the limited information made available to us in an effort to learn as much as we can.”
The statement refers to the alleged victim as “an uninvited Emory student [who] was not known by anyone who lived in the residence.” The statement continues on to say that Smith was asked to leave as a direct result of the altercation.
“At this point,” the statement concludes, “we believe this to be an issue of personal, not fraternity, conduct.”
A commenter claiming to be Adam Smith, the alum responsible for the ejection, left a comment defending his actions on the Emory Wheel site:
"Further there was not any 'approving reaction' from the crowd at the party for me putting this kid in a headlock and throwing him out, nor was I walking around bragging to other people that I just kicked 'this faggot kid' out of the party, high five bro…Really?? This whole dumb event occurred because I was drunk and thought it would be funny to throw someone out to the wrath of the huge security guard at the door, and the most ridiculous person that naturally stood out to me was this Wizard dressed kid. I purposely egged him on a little bit, he snapped back at me, and I threw him out. So chalk this up as me being a drunk asshole, a frat guy with too much testosterone, or whatever you want to call me I really don't care. I just want everyone to know that that's literally all it was, that's the honest truth. I'm not some ignorant bigot looking to bash homosexuals, so please don't think that."
Scott Blair, an AMERICAblog reader and NYU Law student, last wrote to us from Miami, where he was attending Lavender Law, the National LGBT Bar Association Annual Meeting. Today, he attened a panel at NYU’s Law School titled, “The Log Cabin Republicans’ Victory Against ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’: Are Conservatives the Most Effective LGBT Advocates?” The event was held in collaboration with NYU OutLaw. They had quite a panel. Here’s Scott’s report:
Today, NYU Law had a panel on DADT, Log Cabin Republicans v. The United States, and the state of the repeal of DADT after the Republican-led filibuster. Speaking at the panel were Richard Socarides, Bill Clinton’s LGBT advisor, R. Clarke Cooper, the Executive Director of the Log Cabin Republicans, and Aaron Tax, the Legal Director of the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN). The panel was moderated by Kenji Yoshino, a professor of Constitutional Law at the NYU School of Law.
Oddly, the panel didn’t focus so much on the legal strategy and prospects at the 9th Circuit and Supreme court of Log Cabin Republicans, but rather on how we ended up with no legislative repeal in site. The panel began with a discussion from Richard about how we ended up with DADT, and putting the failure of Clinton’s plan to let gays and lesbians serve openly in historic perspective. Even into George H.W. bush’s presidency, being gay was a possible security risk; no major countries let gays and lesbians serve openly; and the Democratic Chair of the Armed Services Committee, along with Colin Powell, came out forcefully opposed to the repeal, hosting a meeting of the Armed Services Committee in a submarine’s quarters to illustrate how gays would have to share bunk beds with straights. The media remained stuck on the issue, and Clinton, seeking a victory, worked with Barney Frank and others to come up with “Don’t’ Ask, Don’t Tell, Don’t Pursue.”
There was an interesting remark from Richard about Clinton’s claim a few months back that he was told by Powell that DADT would let gay servicemen attend pride parades, live with a partner, etc. so long as they weren’t out at work. Quoting Richard, “That’s an example of all of us remembering what we want to remember. There’s a lot more to it.” As Kenji pointed out, immediately after DADT was passed, expulsions of gay and lesbians skyrocketed.
The panel then turned to Aaron discussing the law’s consequences, the extent of which may be unknown to even many proponents of repeal. Among SLDN’s clients have been a soldier who told his father he was gay, who then reported it to the military to get him discharged; people who told friends or family members they were gay before joining the military, and have it reach an enemy in the chain of command. Among the absurdities: a man who was threatened with discharge because he had a photograph with his arm around another man in his locker. The military stopped pursuing his discharge when he informed them it was a family photo with his cousin.
Clarke Cooper then talked about his experience on the case, which actually began back in 2004, and then it moved onto his view of the Log Cabin Republicans. Given the fact that every single Republican filibustered the Defense Authorization bill which said that DADT would be repealed if the Joint Chiefs and the President sign on, there was a bit of flack from the audience about why they were pushing for more Republicans in Congress given their uniform opposition to gay rights. Cooper claimed that there were Republicans onboard for pushing for repeal, but Harry Reid’s procedural shenanigans made them all fall in line with the party and if it’s voted on after the elections it would get Republican support.
(I will say he isn’t the only person to make this claim. Servicemembers United made a similar claim in the period immediately before and after the failed vote.)
More interesting was the claim that when the Log Cabins lobbied for DADT’s repeal, they were often told by Republican Congressmen that they were the first people to visit and actually lobby for the repeal. I suspect this isn’t true, given what I know of SLDN, but it was worth mentioning. He was honest that the Republicans are less gay-friendly than the Democrats (to put it mildly), but I am sympathetic by the idea that if no one is pushing for gay rights in the GOP, then they will never change. I’d be more sympathetic if even “pro-gay” Republicans like Snowe and Brown didn’t vote against gay rights, but take it for what it’s worth. And more compelling is that the RNC has asked the Log Cabins to run campaign ads for GOP candidates in New York state, and that, compared to in the early 1990s, people are actively seeking their endorsements. And Cooper certainly had a point when he said whether you like it or not, the Democrats will not pass any legislation without some GOP support.
Ultimately, though, everyone at the panel was convinced that the Log Cabin Republicans’ victory has helped to keep the prospect of repeal alive. The sky hasn’t fallen since the repeal was issued, and despite the Pentagon’s claims, repeal won’t entail a host of new regulations and a new problem for the school. As Aaron Tax said, “all the repeal will do is not fire people for being gay.”
Many LGBT people see higher education as a place to come out, to spread their proverbial wings and explore a wide world without fear.
Unfortunately for many, that's not the case, for a new study from the non-profit Campus Pride shows that 23% of LGBT students, faculty and staff from colleges and universities have reported anti-gay harassment.
Just as worrisome: 33% of LGBT staff, faculty and students have almost left their institution over harassment or a "challenging climate," the survey reports, and "all GLBT students rated their campus environment less positively than did “straight” students." Many Americans, however, won't see this as a matter for national concern.
The President and his administration have made multiple attempts to highlight the nation's flailing academic status amongst the international community. "For years, we’ve recognized that education is a prerequisite for prosperity," said the President at the National Urban League Conference this summer.
"And yet, we’ve tolerated a status quo where America lags behind other nations. Just last week, we learned that in a single generation, America went from number one to 12th in college completion rates for young adults. Used to be number one, now we’re number 12." Why isn't the general public clamoring for more education reform?
Though the general American may not be impressed by news that 43% of transgender students and 13% of all LGBT fear for their safety on their respective campuses, if our nation's school systems can't accommodate LGBT communities, an ever-growing, ever-important demographic, then those schools are doing our nation a disfavor: a country can't thrive when such a large proportion of the population feels alienated from the education system.
The survey isn't all doom and gloom, however: Campus Pride also pointed to benefits of coming out on campus: "The 'more out' GLBT students reported more active and collaborative learning than their 'straight' and 'less out' peers."
The lesson here: honesty truly is the best policy, even under trying circumstances.