‘Perform or provide’

DADT repeal gives progressive chaplains a chance to counter evangelical clergy in the military

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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 It formed in 2005 as a project of Servicemembers Legal Defense Network and worked under the radar until DADT was repealed.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

Contradictory Marine/Navy guidance on separate-but-equal housing for gay/straight troops

The guidance coming out of the Marines/Navy on DADT says clearly that separate-but-equal housing arrangements for gay and straight troops won’t be allowed, then in the next paragraph it says, well, maybe it will be allowed. Read for yourself:

FAQ 9

Will the Department of Defense build separate living or bathroom facilities for gay and straight Service members?

No. Building separate facilities would create divisions within units and inappropriately isolate a portion of the force.

FAQ 10

Does a Marine or Sailor have the legal right to refuse to share accommodations and/or facilities with a gay, lesbian or bisexual Service member?

No. Marines and Sailors do not have a legal right to reject (or select) assignment with any other Service member within shared military accommodations and facilities. In addition, Marines and Sailors do not have the legal right to refuse work or duty assignments based on a moral objection to another individual’s sexual orientation.

Mission readiness, unit effectiveness, and good order and discipline, remain the priority. Refusal to comply with lawful orders may result in disciplinary action.

Talking Points

If a Marine or Sailor has a concern with a billeting or work arrangement for any reason, he or she should address those concerns appropriately within their chain of command. Commanders may use discretion in personnel assignments to berthing, housing and other facilities to maintain morale, good order, and discipline based on policies and space available.

Accommodation requests for any reason are considered on a case-by-case basis.

What this says to me, legalese-wise, is that they won’t build separate facilities for gay and straight troops, and you dont have a “legal” right to demand separate billeting, but that doesn’t mean they won’t LET you sleep and shower away from the gay if you ask nicely. It sounds like a very cute and clever way for the Marines/Navy to segregate troops is they deem it necessary.

Which leads one to ask whether troops are permitted segregated quarters, and whether “Commanders may use discretion in personnel assignments to berthing, housing and other facilities to maintain morale, good order, and discipline based on policies and space available” when the service member in question doesn’t like blacks, Latinos or Jews?




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—  David Taffet

Tim Pawlenty Wants Troops Back in the Closet

The Human Rights Campaign today rebuked comments made by presidential aspirant Tim Pawlenty that he would reinstate “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” if elected president. It is unclear, based upon an interview he granted to the American Family Association, whether Pawlenty understands the potentially dangerous ramifications of his comments. The AFA, which has been listed as a “hate group” by the Southern Poverty Law Center, equated homosexuality with murder in a recent fundraising appeal.

Given the fact that the integration of gays and lesbians into our fighting forces will take place soon, Pawlenty’s proposed reversal would undoubtedly cause unnecessary chaos by giving conflicting orders to our service members. Pawlenty did not explain what he thinks should happen to gay and lesbian troops, including those that are expected to re-enlist or come out as gay or lesbian once the change has been certified. He also did not offer any thoughts on the large financial costs of dealing with his misguided initiative or the deleterious impacts it would have on force morale.

“Either Tim Pawlenty doesn’t understand the importance of his words or worse, he really wants to harm our military. I don’t know which is worse,” said HRC President Joe Solmonese. “Either way, he’s clearly proven that he’s not ready to lead our fighting men and women as Commander-in-Chief. He needs to think twice next time before making irresponsible comments like these.”

Every study on the integration of gays and lesbians into military forces around the world has included two consistent themes: it should be done quickly and with the support of the military leadership. It comes as no surprise then that Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Joints Chiefs Chairman Admiral Michael Mullen are moving quickly to implement repeal and that all of the military chiefs, no matter their personal positions on the issue, are now behind its successful implementation. Even Senator John McCain, the leading opponent of DADT repeal, recently said that he would do whatever was necessary to make sure the new policy of open service succeeded.

“Pawlenty’s remarks were irresponsible and dangerous. As someone that aspires to be Commander-in-Chief, he should be held to a higher standard. Now that repeal is being implemented, all of our leaders, no matter their personal opinions, should be doing everything they can to ensure successful implementation of repeal. It’s about the success of our military, not politics.”


Human Rights Campaign | HRC Back Story

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Take Action: Please join us in thanking the troops who made today’s DADT victory possible

UPDATE @ 3:02 PM: Watch the Senate vote on final passage:

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UPDATE: The final Senate vote on DADT is expected at 3pm Eastern. We should easily win that. Then the bill goes straight to the White House for the President’s signature, from what I understand.

And here’s the vote count. We got all the Ds, exception Manchin, who chickened out and didn’t vote at all (history repeats itself and West Virginia takes a proud stand against the major civil rights bill of the day, again). And we got the following Rs: Snowe; Collins; Murkowski; Voinovich; Brown; Kirk.

There’s a lot of thanks to go around for today’s incredible and somewhat surprising, “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” victory. Please join us in thanking the troops, from Leonard Maltovich to Dan Choi, who made today possible. You can add your name to our open letter of thanks to all of them, and we’ll deliver it to our friends at SLDN and Servicemembers United.

Now, it’s true that this isn’t over. The Senate still has two more votes on DADT before this bill passes the Senate (but those are simple majority votes, so we expect no problem). Then the bill goes to the President for his signature. But even then it’s not over. The President will need to work with the Pentagon to come up with the new regulations lifting the ban, and even then Republicans in Congress may try to stop implementation of the repeal. We’ll need to watch this like a hawk every step of the way, and we will, but today we celebrate.

Join us in thanking the troops, but really in thanking everyone who had a hand in this. Here a few who really led the way:

Everyone at Servicemembers Legal Defense Network and Servicemembers United. Especially their leaders, Aubrey Sarvis and Alex Nicholson, both proud vets. Then there are the vets. Leonard Matlovich, Perry Watkins, Tracy Thorne, Zoe Dunning, Justin Elzie, Michelle Beneke (and Dixon Osborn, who isn’t a vet, but set up SLDN 17 years ago with Michelle), Grethe Cammermeyer, Joe Steffan, Keith Meinhold, Eric Alva, Victor Fehrenbach, and Dan Choi… and so many more.

And let’s not forget the activists who weren’t willing to take no for an answer. Robin McGehee at GetEqual and the entire gay Netroots. Our friends in the White House who have been pushing this for two years, in the face of some serious internal challenges. Our friends on the Hill, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid – who both got this done. Senator Udall of Colorado. Senator Gillibrand. Senator Lieberman (yes, he actually busted his butt for us). Senators Snowe and Collins, and every other Republican and Democrat who finally came our way. And Congressman Patrick Murphy, who went the extra mile for us. And even the President, who finally got into gear (albeit a tad late) and made the calls necessary to make this happen.

I’m sure I’m forgetting far too many people, all the way back to my friends at the Campaign for Military Service back in 1993, and Michael in Senator Kennedy’s office who spent far too much time with me figuring out how to responds to the evil Sam Nunn.

So thank you all. It’s not over. But it’s a hell of a start, and a hell of a Christmas gift.

Please sign our thank you letter to the troops, and consider it a thank you to everyone, including all of you.

Not a bad day.

PS Okay, more folks coming to mind who helped out immensely. Kerry Eleveld at the Advocate who held Robert Gibbs’ feet to the fire, Richard Socarides who singlehandedly became one of our community’s top spokesmen on CNN and MSNBC. Trevor at SLDN and Brad Luna, the best PR folks you can find. And then there’s Paul Yandura and Jonathan Lewis, who went the extra mile, and then some, to make sure we all got equal. And the blogswarmers, from Pam Spaulding to Mike Signorile, Dan “It gets better” Savage, Andy Towle, Bill Browning, Joe Jervis, Adam Bink,and Jeremy Hooper.

It’s beginning to feel like the Oscars :-)

Then there are the straight blogs, as we affectionately call them. Markos, a vet who earned his “honorary gay” medal years ago, Jane Hamsher who is about as dangerous a weapon on TV as any soldier in the field, and really everyone – Joe and I have remarked to ourselves numerous times how supportive the straight blogs have been to us and our issues over the years, so thank you, all of you. And not a blogger, but still a member of the Netroots, Jon Soltz at VoteVets, another vet who earned his honorary gay medal years ago, tirelessly fighting for us on TV far better than most of our groups.

And even OFA, while not yet quite earning their honorary gay medal, came through in the end and did some real work phone-banking and visiting Senate offices, so thank you.




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GOP’s Dehumanizing of our LGBT troops

There are much to say about the Senate hearings that just concluded. I was quite taken aback to see Sen Evan Bayh emerge as a full-on gay rights hero. Ok, he’s not back up for re-election. But neither is Blanche Lincoln and she’s as useless as ever. So, good for him.

And there was a lovely irony seeing Lindsay Graham describe findings that most people are OK with gay people as “astounding.” Even more so, by the testy exchange he had with Admiral Mullen, where Mullen seemed frustrated with his fruitless attempt to impress on Sen. Graham that there is value in treating gay people with respect and dignity.

But I want to speak to a particular tactic I saw the GOP engaging in: the denial of gay as being a facet of a person’s identity. The idea, that being gay is only what goes on in the bedroom.

Cross-posted at Daily Kos, give a rec if you got it please.
We saw Jeff Session push this very overtly. He objected to comparisons to race, saying that gay people are defined only by acts not the color of their skin.

But to anyone who ever adjusted to the idea of accepting a gay brother, sister, son, daughter, mother, father, we know this to be abjectly false. If all that mattered what what someone did in the privacy of their bedroom it wouldn’t be a significant revelation, anymore than you’d concern yourself if they liked it cowboy or reverse cowboy.

In truth, we recognize, it realigns our ideas, our expectations, our understanding of people who we’ve known and loved for years. More often than not, the revelation is overblown. But there are adjustments, the expectation of grandchildren, the challenge of welcoming partners into family gatherings that may not be exactly what were expected. There are concerns for their safety, employment, happiness.

The hypocrisy of this was in full display when Senator Scott Brown used the heart-rending episode of visiting a soldier in Walter Reid Hospital as a backdrop for his remarks. He described seeing a paraplegic veteran doing ab crunches.

Brown said, “I never asked if they were straight or gay.”

Fair enough. That might have been a out of bounds question.

But ask yourself, Senator, as you sat next to that soldier’s bed, did you ask him, “What’s next soldier? When you get home, do you have someone to care for you? Do you have someone who will help you dress your wounds? Do you have someone that may cook you meals, help you get onto the toilet? Do you have someone to drive you to physical therapy?”

Did you concern yourself for more than a passing instant for the reality of these soldier’s lives? Because for the LGB servicemembers, the difference in their coming home experience will be stark.

  • The partners of LGB servicemembers will not have access to VA support groups.
  • They will not be visited by most military chaplains.
  • The LGB servicemembers compensation will be different. The financial burden for a non-working partner will be greater for LGB families.
  • The partners of LGB servicemembers will not be ignored and forgotten. And the whole family will suffer.

We are bonded by more than acts in a bedroom. We are bonded by love.

The discrepancies will continue, until the Defense of Marriage Act falls. In the meantime, the gay community has stepped up to fill the void (see Servicemembers United’s new Millitary Partners program.)

We are family. Military prides itself on taking care of families, as they do the servicemembers. But DADT forbids that. DADT leaves LGB servicemembers’ families locked out, in the dark, without recognition or support. Active duty LGB servicemembers risk discharge every time they reach out an even so much as speak to their partners on the phone or send them an email.

America has moved on. America increasingly recognizes gay people are family too. Just yesterday Illinois passed a civil unions bill that will soon be signed into law, affording the LGBT families of Illinois a measure of legal recognition and the protection of the state on some of their interests.

It matters. Admiral Mike Mullen gets that. I was so pleased to see him engage passionately with McCain and Graham, defending the dignity of his LGB soldiers, and as he himself said, the integrity of the armed forces itself. He’s also conceded the military, which a proud tradition of leading on social issues, is “clearly not leading” on this one. He wants to play to catch up, the Senate needs to let him.

“We treat each other with respect or we find another place to work.”–Admiral Mike Mullen.

Photos courtesy of Jo Ann Santangelo, from her new book, Proud to Serve portraits of LGBT servicemembers. A great Christmas gift, available for here.
Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

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Fox News refuses to run ad about gay troops

Fox News doesn’t want you to know that the result of lesbian & gay soldiers serving openly in other countries is… business as usual.  That’s according to Generals from allied militaries, who say that gay troops do not undermine combat effectiveness.  Here’s The Palm Center’s 30-second advertisement that Fox News refuses to run.

Voiceover: As the millitary prepares to end “don’t ask, don’t tell”, our NATO allies have told us what to expect… Business as usual.

Major General Semianiw: “There is no negative impact of having men and women of any sexual orientation fighting together, be it in Afghanistan, be it in Iraq.”

Major General Simon VL Willis (ret): “The lifting of the homosexual ban was a bit like Y2K. It was a non-event, and it continues to be a non-event.”

Palm Center Director Aaron Belkin stated: “I am surprised that Fox News would reject an ad featuring allied Generals, given that host Bill O’Reilly and guest contributor Liz Cheney have both expressed support for open gay service. This is an important time for input from all sides on this issue, and I hope Fox will reconsider.”

From the Palm Center press release:

The ad includes video clips made in May 2010 featuring Major General Walter Semianiw, Chief of Military Personnel in the Canadian Forces, and Major General Simon Willis (retired), former Head of Defence Personnel in the Australian Defence Force. Major General Semianiw has since been promoted to Lieutenant General and leads Canada Command. …

According to Central Command’s International Security Assistance Force (ISAT) fact sheet, there are more than 1,400 Australian troops and 2,800 Canadian forces fighting alongside U.S. troops in Afghanistan.

“We have reached out to other cable news outlets and still fully intend to air this ad,” stated Christopher Neff, Deputy Executive Director of the Palm Center.

Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

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SHOCK: Harry Reid Working With John McCain To Abandon Gay Troops In Dropping DADT Repeal

From the unbelievable world of Democrats Inc. comes word that after a failed — and lackluster — campaign to kill Don't Ask Don't Tell by attaching a compromised repeal to the Defense Department's budget reauthorization bill, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is going to strip DADT from the Pentagon bill altogether.

CONTINUED »


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Pentagon DADT survey leak: majority of troops don’t object to serving alongside gay soldiers

Of course they are already serving alongside gay and lesbian soldiers, so the point of this leak is not to surprise anyone. Clearly someone at the Pentagon (or the White House), in planning to push for doing something in the Senate before all hope is lost on DADT repeal, is floating this balloon for all of the Senators who have been hiding behind the fig leaf of “I’m waiting for the study.” This development was reported tonight by NBC’s Richard Engel (via The Wonk Room):

ENGEL: The findings are that for most soldiers, and this wasn’t the sum total of all soldiers, it wasn’t that big of a deal…The majority – the number one answer, first answer was ‘I don’t care.’ That’s significant.

MADDOW: Predominant answer is ‘no big deal.’

ENGEL: Most common, number one. Number two was, ‘I would deal directly with the person involved.’ So when you put the two of those together, it is the majority. Now, there were some people who said, three, they would go to the chain of command and some four, who hated it, hated it. But the answers one and two are considered positive. So these studies show a relative if not positive outlook, at least an accepting outlook.

MADDOW: So the military study is, as you said, the survey of the troops is part of it. It’s an overall study of the feasibility of the issue….this survey of the troops, what you’ve learned is that a majority of troops it’s not going to be a major deal.

ENGEL: Not a deal breaker, that they they’re not going to be running from the army in droves. A key thing this study kept coming back to is that it’s very important about the chain of command. What commanders say. How far commanders act. What tone they set. The marines were the most negative out of the services. They had the most people who were – with negative responses. And the marine corps leadership has taken a stance and has been very vocally against this issue. And the study found that most soldiers and sailors and all different service members follow a chain of command. So if the chain of command accepts this as the law, the data is that so will the soldiers.

Igor Volsky at The Wonk Room has a nice collection of quotes from Republicans who have been waiting for “what the troops have to say.”

Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

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WATCH: Early Word on Pentagon DADT Study — Repeal No Big Deal for Majority of Troops

Engel

(via Igor Volsky at the wonk room)

On Rachel Maddow's show, NBC News' Richard Engel reports on early word on the Pentagon troop survey, which asked service members a variety of questions regarding serving alongside gay soldiers and 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' repeal.

Engel reports that "these studies show a relative if not positive outlook, at least an accepting outlook."

Said Engel: "The findings are that for most soldiers, and this wasn’t the sum total of all soldiers, it wasn’t that big of a deal…The majority — the number one answer, first answer was ‘I don’t care.’ That's significant."

Engel adds: "A key thing this study kept coming back to is that it’s very important about the chain of command. What commanders say. How far commanders act. What tone they set. The marines were the most negative out of the services. They had the most people who were — with negative responses. And the marine corps leadership has taken a stance and has been very vocally against this issue. And the study found that most soldiers and sailors and all different service members follow a chain of command. So if the chain of command accepts this as the law, the data is that so will the soldiers."

Watch, AFTER THE JUMP



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Partners of active duty gay and lesbian troops will meet with Pentagon Working Group

We’ve seen the derogatory surveys. We just heard the derisive comments from a top Pentagon official about separate facilities. But, there’s finally a bit of welcome news coming from the Pentagon Working Group. Partners of active duty troops will get to provide some input on September 16th.

Via press release from Servicemembers United:

Servicemembers United, the nation’s largest organization of gay and lesbian troops and veterans, announced today that the leadership and staff of the Pentagon’s Comprehensive Review Working Group on “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” will meet with a group of lesbian and gay military partners during Servicemembers United’s Military Partners Forum on September 16, 2010. The meeting will be a first of its kind for both the Pentagon and for the military partner community.

“We are honored to be able to facilitate this meeting between the partners of active duty lesbian and gay troops and the leadership and staff of the Comprehensive Review Working Group,” said Alexander Nicholson, Executive Director of Servicemembers United. “The plight of military partners is something that Servicemembers United has led the way on with our Campaign for Military Partners, and we have been pushing for partner input into the review process for quite some time. We are glad that the Pentagon recognizes the value of input from these silent heroes.”

The Campaign for Military Partners was launched by Servicemembers United in 2009 to reach out to, recognize, connect, and support the partners of LGBT military personnel. The online hub for this initiative, www.MilitaryPartners.org, was launched in the spring of 2010.




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—  John Wright