So apparently White House Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett will be a guest speaker at the HRC gala fundraiser tomorrow night (see Pam's diary here). I have some questions for her, as I'm sure do you all. I, for one, would love to know if Jarrett can explain why her boss found time to personally call the WNBA champions to congratulate them, but he couldn't manage to have a staffer call the offices of Blanche Lincoln, Mark Pryor, or either of the Maine twins on the day of the failed Senate vote on DADT repeal. Servicemembers United also has some questions for Jarrett, and issued the following statement today:
Gay, Lesbian Veterans Call on White House Advisor Valerie Jarrett to Meet, Discuss DADT Repeal Before Gay Fundraiser Appearance
Jarrett’s Appearance at Gay Fundraising Gala Called “Insulting” in Light of Administration Inaction on “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Servicemembers United, the nation’s largest organization of gay and lesbian troops and veterans, today called on White House Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett to meet with gay and lesbian veterans to talk about the administration’s inaction on “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” before appearing at a black-tie fundraising gala for the Human Rights Campaign tomorrow in Washington, DC. Jarrett’s appearance at the gala fundraiser was announced today by the Human Rights Campaign, which also called both Jarrett and the president “strong supporters of those of those of us fighting for LGBT rights.”
“We certainly do not feel like the White House is a ‘strong supporter’ of gay and lesbian troops and veterans right now,” said Alexander Nicholson, Executive Director of Servicemembers United and a former U.S. Army human intelligence collector who was also discharged under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” “Before she appears at a black-tie fundraiser to tout the administration’s ‘strong support,’ Jarrett should meet and talk with those who have actually been impacted by this discriminatory law and who continue to fight this uphill battle for the lives and livelihoods of gay and lesbian troops. To ignore the reality of the administration’s choices, a reality manifested in our daily lives, while appearing at a party hosted by an organization that has given cover to this administration would be incredibly insulting.”
Nicholson added that a top-notch group of recent gay and lesbian veterans who are also involved in the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal movement are ready to meet with Jarrett for a respectful dialogue on Friday or Saturday.
For more information about Servicemembers United and “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” please visit www.ServicemembersUnited.org.
I dare Valerie Jarrett to meet with SU's team, to look LGBT veterans in the eye, and try to explain her boss's “fierce advocacy.” I'm willing to meet with her personally and explain exactly how “Don't Ask, Don't Tell” has trashedmylife. There are 14,000+ stories like mine, and Valerie Jarrett should be willing to take the time to hear at least one before going off to give political cover to our “fierce advocate” at HRC's self-congratulating salon tomorrow night.
So we have our first active duty webad. The fact that we're using someone still in is compelling – as it's meant to be – but only as a means to gain attention. The deeper talking point here is how comprehensive the affects of DADT really are.
Take a gander:
The focus on linguists discharged under DADT began with a story broke by the Center for the Study of Sexual Minorities in the Military (CSSMM, now the Palm Center) in November of 2002, when 7 Arabic linguists were discharged under DADT. Their respective discharges did not only affect them in various and horrendous fashion, but the entire morale of the unit, both gay and straight folks.
The gay service members – mostly open – began to suffer paranoia that they would be next, while the straight janes and joes lost respect for the institution of the military over such a ridiculous and unecessary law. None were happy to see their friends go through this process. I remember – I was there. This was my unit.
In later assignments, the one complaint I heard from Arabic linguist friends returning from overseas was that there was not enough of them. Intelligence was backlogged, missions had insufficiant linguistic support, and existing linguists were overworked beyond what would be reasonable in a position that demands precision and accuracy. I asked my friend John if it would it have helped his unit out if soldiers like Alastair Gamble were still in the service. "That would have divided my workload in half," he sighed. Responsible for translating Arabic for an entire Brigade, John couldn't give two shits that Gamble was gay.
When a service member is discharged from the military, it's not just them that is affected, but their entire unit, and every future unit in which they could have served. Each service member discharged represents years of contributions to the military that are incredibly useful, particularly in these critical fields.
But it is the unit that is missing those contributions, and it is the unit that would benefit from repeal.
We're working hard at SU to raise the funds to put these ads on the air. Stop by www.militaryreadiness.org to find out how you can help us educate the American pubic in this critical time before the September vote, as well as keep the momentum going.
The Marine officer, “Gordon,” is a 16-year Marine field grade officer currently assigned within the greater DC Beltway. Alex Nicholson of SU says:
He’s a VERY opinionated striaght-talker (no pun intended), so it should be quite a lively chat this evening – feel free to ask him anything!! If you’re around a computer, please do join us. And for those with blogs, twitter accounts, and hoards of FB followers, please also consider promoting it to your loyal readers and fans.
This is a CoverItLive blog event, so you will be able to see it on the front page of the Blend once it begins, and there is a separate link to a standalone window with the liveblog:
Joining me in the chat room tonight with “Gordon” will be my project partners from SU:
Alex Nicholson, Executive Director; Jarrod Chlapowski, Co-Founder.
The infamous survey is below the fold. The Pentagon commissioned Westat to do the survey, which was distributed to 400,000 active duty and reserve members of the armed forces. The survey is part of the Pentagon Working Group’s 10-month study of the potential impact of repeal of DADT on the force.
Servicemembers United had this reaction to the survey language when it was leaked:
Servicemembers United, the nation’s largest organization of gay and lesbian troops and veterans, today strongly condemned the biased and derogatory design of the long-awaited Defense Department survey on issues related to the repeal of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law. The survey, which was created and administered by the research firm Westat in conjunction with the Comprehensive Review Working Group, was sent out to 400,000 non-deployed active duty troops at a cost to taxpayers of .4 million.
“While it remains safe for gay and lesbian troops to participate in this survey, it is simply impossible to imagine a survey with such derogatory and insulting wording, assumptions, and insinuations going out about any other minority group in the military,” said Alexander Nicholson, Executive Director of Servicemembers United and a former U.S. Army interrogator who was discharged under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” “Unfortunately, this expensive survey stokes the fires of homophobia by its very design and will only make the Pentagon’s responsibility to subdue homophobia as part of this inevitable policy change even harder. The Defense Department just shot itself in the foot by releasing such a flawed survey to 400,000 servicemembers, and it did so at an outrageous cost to taxpayers.”
Nicholson added, “Flawed aspects of the survey include the unnecessary use of terms that are known to be inflammatory and bias-inducing in social science research, such as the clinical term ‘homosexual;’ an overwhelming focus on the potential negative aspects of repeal and little or no inclusion of the potential positive aspects of repeal or the negative aspects of the current policy; the repeated and unusual suggestion that a co-worker or leader might need to ‘discuss’ appropriate behavior and conduct with gay and lesbian troops; and more.”
Servicemembers United Action Fund has launched a new website, MilitaryReadiness.org, and a new ad campaign to push for repeal of DADT. Here’s the first ad with Staff Sergeant Brian Muller, a former Army Bomb Disposal Technician, who was discharged under DADT. Via press release:
“This new ad, and the subsequent ads that will be released each week, helps put a human face on the ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ issue for a national mainstream audience and effectively demonstrates how this outdated law actually harms military readiness,” said Alexander Nicholson, Executive Director of Servicemembers United and the Servicemembers United Action Fund.
At Pam’s House Blend, SU’s Jarrod Chlapowski explains the campaign, which he promises will “hard-hitting” and “show why repealing DADT will improve military readiness”:
For this ad we focused on addressing the effects of open service and the impact of losing critical talent.
Today’s opposition tends to either believe that open service would be detrimental to the oft-repeated concepts of unit cohesion, troop morale, and combat readiness; that it would be in the best interest of the military to hold off on repeal until after we’ve completed our current overseas obligations; or that the US should not move on repeal in Congress until after the Pentagon working group completes its review in December of this year.
The logic behind all three arguments is that open service would to some degree be detrimental to military readiness, that conflict and disarray would inevitably result. This video shows – and SU’s subsequent videos will show – that the exact opposite is actually true.
We as a community sometimes have a tendency to focus on how horrible DADT is and how detrimental it is to the military’s mission. While true, these points do not address or challenge the perspective that the existence of openly serving gays and lesbians will be damaging to the military too. The experiences of those who were able to successfully serve openly under DADT for a period of time – those like Brian – do address this fundamental opposition claim.
Again, this is the first in a series of ads. Please, pass this video around, spread the word. And check out the web ad campaign’s homepage while you’re at it.
We’re not done fighting DADT, and neither are you. See you next week.
The International Gay & Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) has long been attempting to gain recognition as a consulting group with the United Nations, a status which would grant them access and the ability to comment officially on critical LGBT issues such as the murder and imprisonment of LGBT people around the world. In June, IGLHRC’s recognition was blocked by Egypt “on behalf of all African nations.”
After the U.S. delegation promised to pressure the UN on IGLHRC’s behalf, Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) vowed to stop them. Smith, who voted against the Matthew Shepard Act and other LGBT rights laws, says IGLHRC plans to muzzle anybody who preaches that homosexuality is immoral. He wrote the UN a lengthy letter demanding that they again decline IGLHRC’s application.
Backing up Rep. Smith is the Christianist outfit Family Watch International, who has launched a petition campaign to the United Nations.
The IGLHRC is already pressuring a number of UN member states to change their laws to advance sexual rights. When the application was put on hold, the U.S. reacted very aggressively and announced that it was planning to take an unprecedented move to bypass the UN Committee on NGOs and go directly to the full ECOSOC body to try to ram the approval through. This has never been done before, and it has caused quite a stir among the UN delegations of many of the developing nations around the world. So we have a situation where the Obama administration is again putting support for the radical homosexual agenda above virtually all other considerations. In light of what this administration is doing domestically, we should not be surprised, but in this case, the United States government’s almost obsessive quest to advance sexual rights has been exposed to the whole world, and this should concern every American.
Once again, the American Christianist right is actively working to enable the murder, abuse, and imprisonment of LGBT people outside the United States.
VIDEO: Below is a history of the work IGLHRC has done for the last 20 years.
Last week, Pentagon spokesperson Geoff Morrell held a last-minute press conference to rebut criticism of the DADT survey. Kerry Eleveld, who participated in and recorded Morrell’s presser, posted the transcript here.
Clearly, the Pentagon is on edge about this survey. It’s gotten nothing but criticism since it was announced. Servicemembers United has led the critique. And, today, SU provided an in-depth respond to Morrell. I posted the full response on Scribd.com and its embedded below. Let’s just say, SU eviscerates Morrell’s attempt to justify the survey.
From SU’s press release:
Servicemembers United, the nation’s largest organization of gay and lesbian troops and veterans, today released a detailed response memo to rebut the numerous false and misleading claims made by Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell about Servicemembers United’s criticism of the biased DADT survey released last week. The survey, which was created and administered by the research firm Westat in conjunction with the Comprehensive Review Working Group, was sent out to 400,000 non-deployed active duty and reserve component troops at a cost to taxpayers of .4 million.
“Unfortunately, the Pentagon’s responses to Servicemembers United’s criticism of the DADT survey mirror the survey itself – flawed,” said Alexander Nicholson, Executive Director of Servicemembers United and a former U.S. Army interrogator who was discharged under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” “We continue to maintain that the Defense Department just shot itself in the foot by releasing such a flawed survey to 400,000 servicemembers, and it did so at an outrageous cost to taxpayers.”
Servicemembers United wants the feds to get back the .4M they paid for the DADT survey.
The Department of Defense just paid the research firm Westat the outrageous sum of .4 million to design and administer an email-based survey about the repeal of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law. While its development was shrouded in secrecy for weeks, leaked copies of the final version recently began circulating. To everyone’s surprise, the survey, which went out to 400,000 service members, turned out to be laced with bias, inaccuracies, and derogatory assumptions and insinuations about gay and lesbian Americans. Demand that Westat and the Pentagon repay the American Taxpayer for this outrageous waste of .4 million!