TENT seeks trans military veterans for Texas Outserve-SLDN conference

Blumer.Oliver

Oliver Blumer

The Transgender Education Network of Texas is looking for trans veterans to serve on a panel at the 2013 Outserve -SLDN leadership conference.

TENT needs those who can attend the Oct. 25–27 conference in San Antonio and are comfortable telling their stories but is also looking for people who are not comfortable speaking in public to privately share their stories to collect for a “public narrative.”

Although “don’t ask, don’t tell” ended for gay and lesbian service members, trans personnel may still be thrown out of the military.

The Saturday afternoon panel is entitled “Transgender Veterans: Stories to Move the DADT Transgender Service Members Forward.” Those interested in participating should contact Oliver Blumer. Those interested in participating in the public narrative should contact TENT’s Katy Stewart.

Among the other presenters at the conference are the American Military Partner Assocation that has been following the Texas National Guard’s refusal to register same-sex partners of military personnel so they can receive an ID and federal benefits.

The 2013 Outserve-SLDN leadership conference will be held in San Antonio on Oct. 25–27 at the Marriott Rivercenter. Tickets are available online.

—  David Taffet

Hagel vows to push for equal benefits for gay and lesbian military families

Chuck Hagel

Two LGBT groups, the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network and the Family Equality Council, are praising Defense Secretary nominee Chuck Hagel after he wrote a letter to Sen. Barbara Boxer addressing concerns about his appointment. Boxer endorsed the Hagel nomination on Monday. She had withheld support citing his positions on Israel, women’s and LGBT issues.

With regard to “don’t ask, don’t tell,” Hagel wrote:

“I fully support the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Repeal Act of 2010 and value the service of all those who fight for our country. I know firsthand the profound sacrifice our service members and their families make, and if confirmed as Secretary of Defense, I will do everything possible to the extent permissible under current law to provide equal benefits to the families of all our service members.”

In the U.S. Senate, Hagel received a 0 percent rating with Human Rights Campaign and voted in favor of the Defense of Marriage Act. He was not in the Senate for the enactment or repeal of DADT.

“This commitment is a big step forward for military families with lesbian and gay parents,” said Emily Hecht-McGowan, director of public policy for Family Equality Council. “The Department of Defense has a lot of work to do to ensure that all military families have access to the benefits they’ve earned through service to their country. We look forward to working with the Administration to make sure that all military families, including those with lesbian and gay servicemembers, are protected and respected.”

“Senator Hagel’s commitment is a turning point for our gay and lesbian military families,” said SLDN Executive Director Allyson Robinson. “His promise to grant these service members the family benefits they have earned demonstrates his deepening grasp of the injustice currently being done to them.”

In its press release, SLDN referred to a 2011 letter to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta demanding a list of benefits available to straight military and denied to gay and lesbian military because of DOMA. That list includes issuance of military ID cards for a non-military spouse and access to military hospitals to visit a sick child by the non-military parent. Without a military ID card, a spouse cannot get on a base to visit the child.

While far right wing members of the Senate continue to oppose Hagel’s nomination, Jewish members are beginning to support him. In addition to Boxer, Chuck Schumer of New York expressed support today.

—  David Taffet

DADT repeal crusader Dave Guy-Gainer dies

Dave Guy-Gainer

Dave Guy-Gainer, who was a leading local advocate for the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell,” died unexpectedly at his home in Forest Hill on Thursday.

Guy-Gainer was 63. A public memorial will be held at 5 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 4 at the Legacy of Love monument on Cedar Springs Road at Oak Lawn Avenue.

Guy-Gainer, a retired Air Force chief master sergeant who came out after leaving the service, was a member of the board of Equality Texas and a founding board member of the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network. He worked tirelessly for the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell.” He also ran unsuccessfully in 2010 for the City Council in Forest Hill, a small town in Tarrant County south of Fort Worth.

Guy-Gainer was invited to the White House for the DADT repeal legislation signing ceremony.

“Chiefs don’t cry, but the allergens were very high in that room,” Guy-Gainer said later of the ceremony. “You couldn’t help but shed a tear in there. It was just such an overwhelming feeling of weight being lifted and equality finally happening.”

At a DADT repeal party in September 2011 at Resource Center Dallas, he donated boxes of papers releated to DADT to the Phil Johnson Library. Throughout the repeal process, he was the local media contact who made sense of it all.

The circumstances of Guy-Gainer’s death couldn’t immediately be confirmed, but he is believed to have committed suicide.

His partner David Guy said funeral arrangements are pending but there will be a full honor military funeral.

Read statements on Guy-Gainer’s passing from SLDN and Stonewall Democrats below:

—  David Taffet

Dallas celebrates end of DADT

As ban on open gays and lesbians in the military ends, active-duty military personnel come out, some who were discharged consider re-enlisting

Johnson.Cully
Cully Johnson

DAVID TAFFET  |  Staff Writer
taffet@dallasvoice.com

As the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell” became final this week, some active-duty service members came out while some who were discharged under the policy made plans to re-enlist.

Dallas celebrated the repeal with a reception at Resource Center Dallas during which

Dave Guy-Gainer, a board member of Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, presented his archive of photos, papers and other memorabilia to the Phil Johnson Library.

Among the papers was correspondence with senators and representatives about supporting the repeal effort. Also included was correspondence with the White House that concluded with Guy-Gainer’s invitation to the final repeal signing ceremony in July.

Guy-Gainer said that he almost missed the invitation, because he almost forgot to check his email one Monday night. When he did remember and checked the inbox, he realized that he had received an invitation to the repeal certification signing ceremony in Washington that Wednesday.

Guy-Gainer said he immediately cleared his schedule and made plans to attend.

Despite repeal of DADT, Guy-Gainer said, SLDN’s  work is not over. Although gays and lesbians may now serve openly, those who are married will not receive 40 benefits that married heterosexual service members enjoy.

Those benefits include their partners having an identity card to get on base and using that card to shop in the PX or use the library.

Same-sex dependents will not be able to use the base attorneys to write wills and other legal papers.

Same-sex couples will not have the access to base housing that opposite-sex couples have, nor will they be eligible for subsistence payments to subsidize off-base housing. That money is offered to many heterosexual couples.

Dependents of heterosexuals also have access to full health care that same-sex partners of servicemen and women will not receive.

Across the country, a number of gays and lesbians who had been discharged under DADT started talking to recruiters Tuesday about re-enlisting, including Cully Johnson, one of the owners of Dallas Eagle.

Johnson was a captain and said he is consiering re-enlisting in the Air Force. He had an appointment with a recruiter to discuss the possibility on Wednesday, Sept. 21.

Johnson said he was stationed in Germany for the beginning of Operation Iraqi Freedom. When Turkey refused to allow American planes to use its airspace, he said, he was responsible for finding alternate routes and bases that allowed the mission to happen.

After serving more than nine years, Johnson was dismissed from the military under DADT.

But like many who were dismissed, Johnson never “told.”

Another member of the Air Force asked him out on a date. When he turned the man down, that airman went to Johnson’s superior and reported him as being gay.

Johnson said there was no defense he could present. His attorney said that explaining the story of why he was turned in would just be seen as retaliation.

So Johnson was given an honorable discharge and he returned to Dallas while the closeted gay man who turned him in remained in the Air Force.

Johnson said he would like to finish his 20 years to take advantage of full military retirement benefits. Although he is talking to a recruiter, Johnson said that in addition to his business, he recently purchased a condo and has a new partner.

His partner was taking a wait-and-see attitude toward Johnson’s re-enlistment.

“We’ll deal with it when the time comes,” said his partner, who works for an employer that doesn’t offer nondiscrimination protection and asked not to be identified.

Because Johnson was an officer, there may not be an immediate slot for him in the Air Force. With President Barack Obama’s proposed drawdown of armed forces, many who want to re-enlist whose specialties have been filled will also have to wait for an opening.

Pepe Johnson had an appointment with a recruiter on Wednesday also. Before his DADT discharge, he had been named soldier of the year at Fort Sill and became a sergeant.

Today, the former Dallas resident, who still owns a house in Oak Cliff, works as a petroleum land man in West Virginia.

“I want to sit down with a recruiter and look at the options available to me,” Pepe Johnson said, adding that he holds no resentment against the Army for his 2003 dismissal.

“‘Don’t ask, don’t tell’ was a law created by Congress and imposed on the military,” he said. “The Army was an incredible experience for me.”

If he re-enters, Pepe Johnson said he would have to go through basic training again because of the length of time since he served. Then, he said, he’d like to enter officer candidate school.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 23, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

Never say die: House Armed Services committee members try again to delay DADT repeal

You gotta give it to those right-wingers; they are some persistent folk.

Rep. Buck McKeon, left, and Rep. Joe Wilson

On Monday, Sept. 12, less than 10 days until the date set for repeal of the military’s anti-gay “don’t ask, don’t tell” rule to finally go into effect, House Armed Services Committee Chair Rep. Buck McKeon, a Republican from California, and Military Personnel Subcommittee Chair Rep. Joe Wilson, a Republican from South Carolina, tried one more time to keep the repeal from happening. The two sent a letter to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta on Monday, claiming that repeal can’t happen yet because “all the policies and regulations necessary for the transition are not yet final,” according to Lisa Keen with Keen News Service.

As Keen reports, McKeon and Wilson were particularly concerned that the Department of Defense had not yet sent them “revised regulations and a summary of all the specific policy changes, especially with regard to benefits, that will take effect upon repeal.”

(Just a side note: Wilson is the guy who made headlines in 2009 when, during a speech by President Obama to a joint session of Congress, he hollered out,”You lie!” He later apologized to the president, but was officially rebuked by his congressional colleagues.)

A DOD spokeswoman said Thursday, Sept. 17, that DOD officials have, indeed, apprised Congress of all the changes to policies and regulations associated with DADT repeal, that none of the service secretaries, service chiefs or combatant commanders had long ago submitted all their recommendations regarding repeal, that none of those folks had suggested a delay, and that repeal will most definitely go ahead as planned next Tuesday, Sept. 20.

Let’s hope the DOD folks are right and the right-wingers don’t manage to find a way to stall things, because DADT repeal parties have been planned across the country for next Tuesday, including one at Resource Center Dallas (and later at Pekers). Gay Air Force veteran and Servicemembers Legal Defense Network board member David Guy Gainer will be at the RCD event, donating his collection of materials related to DADT and its repeal to the Phil Johnson Historic Archives and Library.

And while this will certainly be a day for celebration, SLDN is warning lesbians and gays still on active duty in the military that there are still plenty of dos and don’ts for them to keep in mind. You can read the SLDN’s guidelines on what parties lesbian and gay servicemembers should and shouldn’t attend here.

—  admin

BREAKING: Pentagon to certify DADT repeal

Secretary Panetta

Reports are coming in from sources including the Wall Street Journal and Fox News that Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen are going to announce Friday that they are ready to certify repeal of the military’s anti-gay “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy.

Once they have signed off on repeal, the measure goes to President BarackObama for his signature, and he will send it back to Congress. Then there is a 60-day waiting period before repeal is officially implemented.

Aubrey Sarvis, executive director of Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, issued a statement shortly after 6 p.m. Central time today saying the Pentagon’s certification of repeal is “is welcomed by gay and lesbian service members who have had to serve their country in silence for far too long.”

Sarvis added: “The troops and their commanders are ready. Our nation’s top military leaders have testified that commanders see no significant challenges ahead. The official certification to Congress that the armed forces are prepared for the end of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’  should go to Capitol Hill tomorrow with the President’s signature.”

But Sarvis also warned closeted servicemembers that it’s not safe to come out yet. SLDN has posted a warning to lesbian and gay servicemembers here. He also advised LGBT servicemembers with questions to call the SLDN hotline at 202-328-3244, ext. 100, to speak to a staff attorney.

—  admin

SLDN issues letter to Secretary Gates requesting Special Boards

Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN) has done remarkable work in assisting gay veterans in the past and continues to defend us by issuing a letter to Secretary Gates requesting that special boards be created in order to assist those of us who were unfairly discharged for being gay.

There are myriad injustices those of us who were discharged for being gay faced, and this letter attempts to address those problems with the creation of special boards.

Personally, I remember just how horrible, and mentally stressful, it was to have to provide any future employer with my DD-214 discharge papers that read, “Member stated he or she was a homosexual or bisexual.” It was like asking for a job while wearing a big “Scarlet A” on my chest. Fortunately, for me, I finally came across a Court Clerk for the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in the Northern District of Oklahoma who said, “You know what? I happen to be a very progressive Democrat and THAT is nobody’s business! Besides, I like you and I need your technical skills to help us build our computer network.” I still consider that woman, Dorothy Evans, somewhat of a Fairy Godmother to me. Mind you, this was back in the pre-”Will and Grace” dark ages, so I owe a lot to her. I think the special boards that would be setup to provide redress for us is an excellent idea. So, will the Obama administration do this?




AMERICAblog Gay

—  David Taffet

SLDN Calls For Executive Order Banning Discrimination Based On Sexual Orientation & Gender Identity

The Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN) released a press release of note yesterday, entitled SLDN Calls For Executive Order Banning Discrimination Based On Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity.

SLDN CALLS FOR EXECUTIVE ORDER BANNING DISCRIMINATION BASED ON SEXUAL ORIENTATION, GENDER IDENTITY

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

February 9, 2011

Paul DeMiglio: (202) 621-5408 or paul@sldn.org

SLDN CALLS ON PRESIDENT TO ISSUE EXECUTIVE ORDER BANNING DISCRIMINATION BASED ON SEXUAL ORIENTATION AND GENDER IDENTITY

Washington, D.C. — In a letter sent to the White House today, Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN) urged President Obama to issue an executive order prohibiting discrimination in the armed forces based on sexual orientation and gender identity. SLDN recommends that the executive order go into effect on the date of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT) repeal, which is 60 days after certification by the President, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Michael Mullen.

Thumbnail link to press release: SLDN Calls For Executive Order Banning Discrimination Based On Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity“Signing legislation that allows for repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ was a necessary first step, but it is not sufficient for ensuring equality in the military. We call upon the President to issue an executive order so that sexual orientation and gender identity are not barriers to applying for a job or advancing in your career,” said Aubrey Sarvis, Army veteran and executive director for Servicemembers Legal Defense Network.

The explicit anti-discrimination provision that was part of legislation to repeal DADT was dropped from the bill passed by Congress and signed into law by the President last December. An executive order is therefore needed to give service members recourse outside their chain of command if they are experiencing discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

“Every service member deserves equal respect and a safe work environment. President Obama now has an opportunity to demonstrate the same leadership that President Truman did when he issued an executive order to end racial segregation in the military, and issue an executive order that protects all patriots regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. The President recognizes that it will take more than just repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ to end discrimination against LGBT service members, and we couldn’t agree more,” Sarvis said.

To read the full text of the letter, click here.

##

STILL AT RISK: Despite the President signing the bill authorizing repeal of DADT, it is still unsafe for service members to come out until 60 days after certification by President Obama, Secretary Gates, and Admiral Mullen. Warning to service members: www.SLDN.org/StillAtRisk

SLDN FREE HOTLINE: Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender service members with questions are urged to contact the SLDN hotline to speak with a staff attorney: 202-328-3244 x100.

ABOUT SLDN: Servicemembers Legal Defense Network was established in 1993 when “Don’t Ask” originally passed. In addition to working on repeal, SLDN offers free, confidential legal services to those impacted by the discriminatory law. Last year the organization received its 10,000th call for assistance to its legal hotline.

[The text of the SLDN's policy letter on LGBT antidiscrimination in the military services to President Obama is below the fold.]
The letter sent to President Obama from the SLDN — signed by their executive director Aubrey Sarvis:

February 9, 2011

President Barack Obama

The White House

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW

Washington, DC 20500

Dear President Obama:

Last month, you signed legislation that provided for the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”. This was a major accomplishment for the United States military, for gay and lesbian Americans, and for your Administration and the United States Congress. We look forward to the certification by you, the Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joints Chiefs of Staff that will bring this unwise and discriminatory law to an end.

Thumbnail link: SLDN's policy letter on LGBT antidiscrimination in the military services to President Obama, dated February 9, 2011But you have recognized that repeal of this law, while necessary, is not sufficient. You said, “The eradication of this policy will require more than just eliminating one statute. It will require the implementation of anti-harassment policies and protocols for dealing with abusive or discriminatory behavior as we transition our armed forces away from a policy of discrimination.” With this, we completely agree.

And yet, recent statements by some leaders in the Department of Defense indicate that they see no need for such policies and protocols — that business as usual is enough. With this, we do not agree. A mechanism should be put in place so that service members have a place to turn, independent of their chain of command, if they are subject to discrimination based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. Being able to apply for a job and advance in one’s career, free from discrimination, is not, as some have termed, a “special right”. And a workplace free from discrimination does not happen just because our leadership says it must.

We, therefore, call on you to show the leadership President Truman did when he issued an Executive Order banning racial discrimination in the armed services and to issue an Executive Order prohibiting discrimination in the armed services based on sexual orientation and gender identity to be effective on the date of repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”. Bills introduced in the past three Congresses that included an explicit anti-discrimination provision to accompany “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal attracted hundreds of co-sponsors, but this language was dropped from the bill that passed last year. Your Executive Order can ensure that the military adopts the necessary nondiscrimination policies coincident with repeal of the discriminatory law.

Sincerely,

Aubrey Sarvis

Executive Director

Servicemembers Legal Defense Network

What the inclusion of gender identity in the SLDN’s messaging means is unclear to me. Perhaps we’ll find out in coming days.

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Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

—  David Taffet

The Nooner: SLDN on Navy sex videos; more Super Bowl concerts; new Victory Fund seal

Your midday news roundup from Instant Tea:

• Victory Fund launches endorsement seal (right).

• Happy New Years from Dallas regarding DADT.

• More Super Bowl concerts announced, including Kid Rock and Duran Duran.

• President of Houston GLBT Political Caucus steps down after two years.

• Servicemembers Legal Defense Network responds to Navy sex video controversy.

—  John Wright

Obama to sign bill that DOES NOT immediately repeal ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ on Wednesday

SLDN provided this image from Saturday’s ‘NBC Nightly News’ to illustrate how media outlets are incorrectly reporting that DADT has been repealed.

President Barack Obama will sign the bill that outlines a path for repealing “don’t ask, don’t tell” in a ceremony at the Department of the Interior, at 9:15 a.m. Eastern (8:15 Central) on Wednesday. However, the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network is reminding folks — and especially the media — that even after Obama signs the bill, the law will remain in effect for an unknown period of time.

“We need the media’s help to let troops know they remain at risk under the law even after the President signs the bill,” SLDN Executive Director Aubrey Sarvis said in an e-mail statement this morning under the subject line “URGENT: Media warning ….”

“The Pentagon just released new guidance that made clear ‘Don’t Ask’ may still be the law for some time to come,” Sarvis said. “We respectfully renew our call for Defense Secretary Robert Gates to use his authority to suspend all ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ investigations during this limbo period. Until the President signs the bill, until there is certification, and until the 60-day implementation period is over, no one should be investigated or discharged under this discriminatory law. Certification and the implementation period must be wrapped up no later than the first quarter of 2011. The bottom line: for now, gay, lesbian, and bisexual service members must remain cautiously closeted.”

SLDN says LGBT servicemembers with questions should call 202-328-3244 ext. 100 to speak with a staff attorney.

For more on the process for repealing DADT, see this story from the Washington Post.

—  John Wright