UT at San Antonio denied in-state tuition to military member’s partner

UTSAThe University of Texas at San Antonio has denied in-state tuition to the same-sex spouse of an active service member.

The American Military Partner Association, a gay service group, is calling the denial a violation of the Higher Education Opportunity Act (H.R. 4137), section 135, which was signed into law in 2008.

Section 135 requires that, “In the case of a member of the armed forces who is on active duty for a period of more than 30 days and whose domicile or permanent duty station is in a State that receives assistance under this Act, such State shall not charge such member (or the spouse or dependent child of such member) tuition for attendance at a public institution of higher education in the State at a rate that is greater than the rate charged for residents of the State.”

“Federal law specifically requires that universities grant in-state tuition rates to the spouses of active duty service members,” AMPA President Stephen Peters said in a statement. “We urge the federal government to immediately withhold any federal funds that UTSA is receiving through the Higher Education Opportunity Act until they are in compliance with the requirements of the act.”

A UTSA representative did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

—  Dallasvoice

Court refuses to suspend lawsuit challenging DADT

LISA LEFF  |  Associated Press

SAN FRANCISCO — A federal appeals court has denied the government’s request to suspend a lawsuit challenging the military’s ban on openly gay servicemembers.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco issued an order Friday, Jan. 28 requiring the Department of Justice to file papers by Feb. 25 arguing why the court should overturn a Southern California trial judge who declared the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy unconstitutional.

Government lawyers asked the 9th Circuit earlier this month to set aside the case because the Pentagon was moving quickly to satisfy the steps Congress outlined last month when it voted to allow the ban’s repeal. A Justice Department spokeswoman said it had no comment Saturday.

The appeals court did not explain in its order why it rejected the request. In his State of the Union address, President Barack Obama said he expected to finalize the repeal and allow openly gay Americans to join the armed forces before the end of the year.

On Friday, the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff told reporters that the training of officers and troops the Pentagon has said is a predicate to full repeal would begin in February.

The Log Cabin Republicans, the gay political group whose lawsuit challenging “don’t ask, don’t tell” persuaded District Court Judge Virginia Phillips in September to enjoin the military from enforcing the policy, had opposed the government’s effort to put the case on hold.

R. Clarke Cooper, the group’s president, said Saturday that while he thinks the Pentagon’s efforts are sincere, the case should proceed as long as gay servicemembers still can be discharged.

“We said all along to the government we would drop our case if they would cease all discharges and remove all barriers to open service,” Cooper said.

Cooper, an Army reserve officer, said he knew of at least one service member facing a discharge hearing next month, even as the Pentagon moves forward with its training plan.

“We are not questioning the implementation process. We recognize the need for a deliberative process for implementing proper training materials and guidances for leadership,” he said. “But when you have a servicemember going before a discharge panel, this is kind of a ‘left hand-right hand’ thing that is happening.”

—  John Wright

SLDN: ‘The job is not done’

Aubrey Sarvis

This open letter addressed to servicemembers, the LGBT community and allies just came across from Aubrey Sarvis, an Army veteran who serves as executive director of the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network:

Dear Friend,

With the President signing legislation into law that provides a pathway to repeal, the SLDN family and greater LGBT community, along with our allies, should be proud of the role each person played in making history. But the job is not done.

Troops remain at risk under the law. Our service member hotline has not silenced. Since the President signed legislation, 135 service members and veterans have contacted our legal team for help. “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” will remain the law until certification and the 60-day implementation period have been completed.

While a measure of dignity has been restored to thousands of service members on active duty, and to over a million gay and lesbian veterans who served in silence – the uncertainty and fear in the ranks remains. Our mission and our services will continue: securing the freedom for all qualified to serve in the U.S. military with equality of treatment and opportunity.

We all know there is vital work unfinished.

—  John Wright

Key findings and full text of Pentagon report on ‘don’t ask don’t tell’

For your afternoon reading, below is a copy of the Pentagon report on “don’t ask don’t tell” that was released just moments ago, as well as a copy of the Support Plan for Implementation. And here’s a summary of the key findings from the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (for another summary, go here):

When asked about the actual experience of serving in a unit with a co-worker who they believed was gay or lesbian, 92% stated that the unit’s “ability to work together” was “very good,” “good,” or “neither good nor poor.”

• When asked about how having a service member in their immediate unit who said he or she is gay would affect the unit’s ability to “work together to get the job done,” 70% of Service members predicted it would have a positive, mixed, or no effect.

When asked “in your career, have you ever worked in a unit with a co-worker that you believed to be homosexual,” 69% of Service members reported that they had.

• In communications with gay and lesbian current and former service members, the CRWG repeatedly heard a patriotic desire to serve and defend the Nation, subject to the same rules as everyone else.

The CRWG is convinced that our military can do this, even during this time of war. They do not underestimate the challenges in implementing a change in the law, but neither should we underestimate the ability of our extraordinarily dedicated Service men and women to adapt to such change and continue to provide our Nation with the military capability to accomplish any mission.

The CRWG found “the risk of repeal of don’t ask, don’t tell to overall military effectiveness is low.”

The CRWG believes this to be the “largest, most Comprehensive review of a personnel policy matter which the department of defense has ever undertaken.”

DADTReport FINAL Hires)

DADTReport SPI FINAL 20101130(Secure Hires)

—  John Wright

DADT update: Local SLDN board member blasts survey of troops; trial begins in Log Cabin lawsuit challenging policy

Dave Guy-Gainer

As it prepares for the end of “don’t ask, don’t tell,” the military is doing something unprecedented: asking the troops what they think.

“With my affiliation with SLDN, the advice is not to participate,” said Dave Guy-Gainer, a local board member for the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network.

“Even though the survey goes to a secure public site,” Guy-Gainer said, “you’re still vulnerable if you complete the survey on a government computer.”

When the military first announced it needed six months to study the end of DADT, Guy-Gainer was against the delay. But when he heard they were studying things like benefits and housing for partners, he changed his mind. The survey, however, has raised new issues about the intent of the delay.

Questions on the survey include: “Do you currently serve with a male or female service member you believe to be homosexual?” and “Have you been assigned to share bath facilities with an open bay shower that is also used by a service member you believed to be homosexual?”

“It implies that you’re allowing people to vote,” Guy-Gainer said.

He gave several examples of the military implementing changes without surveying the opinion of troops.

“A few months ago, the Navy put women on submarines, and no one asked about the women,” he said.

Members of the Armed Forces weren’t polled when President Harry S. Truman integrated the troops, when President Gerald Ford made military institutes co-ed or when President Jimmy Carter placed women on battleships.

And questions on the survey appear to be homophobic.

Guy-Gainer has said troops aren’t in Gomer Pyle-style barracks, sleeping in bunk beds and using group showers. Yet, those are the level of questions apparently being asked in the survey.

Carl Levin, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, acknowledged that the troops have never been surveyed like this before and that the military is not a democracy. But Levin added that he doesn’t think there’s anything wrong with gauging the attitude of the troops. He said the final decision rests with Congress, and the military will be expected to follow it.

Guy-Gainer said the survey is optional, not mandatory. He said he’s afraid those who are homophobic have more incentive to respond while those who are sympathetic to gays and lesbians in the military are afraid of how their answers will be used.

He called the survey unnecessary.

“The working group can identify all the rules and regulations that need to be changed,” he said. “What happens to good order and discipline?”

This week a trial opened in California with Log Cabin Republicans challenging the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. Attorneys for Log Cabin used President Barack Obama’s words in their opening statements, according to the Associated Press. Log Cabin argued that maintaining the policy doesn’t advance the government’s interest.

UPDATE: In related news, the Associated Press reported Wednesday morning that prosecutors have dropped all charges against Lt. Dan Choi, the gay veteran who has twice chained himself to the White House fence this year to protest DADT.

—  David Taffet