Follow the yellow brick road at Rice Cinema

Wizard of OzThere’s Wicked and The Wiz, there’s the classic Frank L. Baum books and Tinman, but nothing can touch the 1939 Victor Fleming classic The Wizard of Oz, for pure transcendent delight. See it for free on the big screen as Rice Cinema (6100 Main room MS-549) presents the tale of the Scarecrow, Tin Man, Cowardly Lion and Dorothy (and her little dog too) Friday and Saturday, January 13 & 14, at 7 pm.

—  admin

‘Drag Race’ tour hits S4 this month

As anyone who watches the show knows, one of the perks of winning RuPaul’s Drag Race is that the victor gets a victory lap … around the country. Raja will come to Dallas as part of the Drag Race/Absolut Vodka Tour later this month — on my birthday, no less. (Hold the applause.)

The tour kicks off in Denver on the 14th and goes to eight cities; the only Texas stop will be at Station 4 on Wednesday, May 26.

In addition to Raja, other queens from the show (names are not yet available) will be on hand, as will Absolut mixologist Justin Winters. We’re holding out hope someone from the “Pit Crew,” pictured, will make it, too. Sigh.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Lt. Col. Victor Fehrenbach to retire – with full rank and pension

Some positive news today, via The Advocate:

Lt. Col. Victor Fehrenbach, who fought his discharge from the Air Force under the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, will be allowed to retire in October with his full rank and pension.

The South Bend Tribune reported on the news about the Notre Dame graduate and decorated 20-year veteran of combat flight.

“It was a great sense of relief. I didn’t expect it,” said the 41-year-old Fehrenbach to the newspaper.

According to the Tribune, “With no further explanation, the military in January sent Fehrenbach new orders: Effective Sept. 30, he will be retired from active duty at his current rank and with his pension. He’ll serve out the remaining months of his military duty at his current desk job at the base in Idaho.”

Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

—  David Taffet

Lt. Col. Victor Fehrenback: John McCain Was The Reason I Joined The Military

Joe. My. God.

—  admin

Letter to the Pentagon about DADT from Victor Fehrenbach’s sister, Angela Trumbauer

The Pentagon is surveying military spouses about the repeal of DADT. But, that won’t give the full story about how DADT impacts families. So, SLDN is releasing “a letter each day this week from family members and spouses of former service members impacted by DADT. As the Pentagon reaches out to 150,000 straight couples on how their lives are impacted, these letters will share the perspective of those forced to serve under this law alongside their loved ones.”

Today’s letter is from Lt. Col. Victor Fehrenbach’s sister, Angela Trumbauer. She served in the Air Force, as did her parents. She’s also married to a retired Air Force Senior Master Sergeant. Angela really understands military families. And, she knows the impact DADT has on military families:

August 27, 2010

Hon. Jeh C. Johnson
General Counsel, U.S. Department of Defense
Co-Chair, Comprehensive Review Working Group

General Carter F. Ham
Commanding General, U.S. Army Europe
Co-Chair, Comprehensive Review Working Group

Dear Mr. Johnson and General Ham:

My name is Angela Trumbauer. I am an Air Force enlisted veteran. I was born and raised in a family of 8 children by my father, a retired Air Force officer (deceased 1979), and my widowed mother, a former Air Force officer, who just turned 78 years young this month. I am married to a retired Air Force Senior Master Sergeant. My stepson is an active-duty Air Force Technical Sergeant. My brother is Lt. Col. Victor Fehrenbach, a highly decorated 19-year Air Force officer. I hail from the “military family” in every sense.

Over Victor’s military career, our family had limited opportunities to see and spend time with him. He came home to Ohio for visits once or twice a year, usually over the Thanksgiving or Christmas holidays. I took my kids to visit him at his assigned Air Force Bases a few times over the years. We prepared and sent him care packages when he was deployed to Iraq. Vic sent me care packages when I was stationed in Greece years ago, while he was still a high school student. Reflecting back, I never gave much thought to his short 2-3 day trips home or the seemingly strained nature of the visits. All that changed in May, 2009, however, when my brother was forced to reach out and seek our family’s support in the most difficult battle of his life – fighting against his discharge under “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.”

The revelations that have come to light and emotions evoked throughout the past year have brought a great sense of loss and heartache to our family, not unlike that experienced in grief and death. It saddened me deeply to realize that my single, younger brother could never enjoy a close personal relationship, free from fear of persecution or harassment, throughout his near 20 years serving. His family back home was free to enjoy wonderful family relationships with their spouses and children, but Vic was never to experience that same freedom and privilege while in uniform. I often wonder how alone or lonely he must have felt all those years, especially when he couldn’t even share his personal struggles with his very own family.

I recently took the opportunity to ask my brother who he would like us to notify in the event of an emergency or upon his death, after I realized he had no one else to confide in. Most soldiers and airmen have a support system in place, where their spouses or immediate family members are aware of their dying wishes and will share urgent news or handle the appropriate notifications with those closest to their loved one. In my brother’s case, I just figured the military would let us know if something happened to him and that no one else aside from his family members needed to be notified, since he was single and has no children.

Under “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell,” the Fehrenbach family has been robbed of truly knowing and loving our brother for who he is for nearly two decades. He chose to serve in silence to protect his own family – the only family he can legally call his own – from potential exposure to investigation under DADT. We can never get those years back. Nor can we accept the damage to and destruction of our family’s long-standing military history that will result from Lt. Col. Fehrenbach’s discharge under this discriminatory and unjust law. Our family legacy goes back generations, in which our father, mother, grandfathers, spouses, children, uncles and cousins have all answered the call to serve.

Despite all the suffering that Don’t Ask Don’t Tell has caused my brother and our family, we have reaped a benefit far greater than words can measure. Since I’ve come to know and understand my brother’s true identity, and because he no longer has to hide any part of himself from me, our relationship has become much closer and deeper, where we laugh and share more than ever before. Vic can now be completely open and honest with me – an element that was clearly missing in our lives and relationship in the past. I can’t express the immense pleasure I’ve experienced in getting to know my baby brother — “Uncle Baldy” as some of our 17 nieces and nephews call him.

In light of the infinite family gains that the repeal of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” will yield, I sincerely believe that allowing open service is necessary, right, and just in every sense. Each and every service member deserves the FULL love and support of their family and friends, without fear of persecution, discrimination and harassment. A strong sense of support and love is essential for our troops at all times. It only stands to reason that overall military performance is enhanced and the resolve to accomplish the mission is strengthened by complete and unhindered family bonds.

Sincerely,
Angela Trumbauer

CC:

U.S. Sen. Carl M. Levin
Chairman, Senate Armed Services Committee

U.S. Sen. John S. McCain
Ranking Member, Senate Armed Services Committee

U.S. Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman
Member, Senate Armed Services Committee




AMERICAblog Gay

—  John Wright

Victor Fehrenbach’s Sister on DADT

Angela Trumbauer (sister), Erica Fehrenbach (niece), Lt. Col. Victor Fehrenbach, USAF x390 (courtesy) | ADVOCATE.COMIn the latest letter from a Servicemembers Legal Defense Network campaign, Angela Trumbauer, sister to Lt. Col. Victor Fehrenbach, writes about how the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy hurts their family.
Advocate.com: Daily News

—  John Wright

Breaking: Lt. Col. Victor Fehrenbach sues to block DADT discharge

This is big news, and something we can discuss in tonight’s PHB/Servicemembers United liveblog. (NYT):

On Wednesday, Colonel Fehrenbach’s lawyers filed papers in Idaho federal court requesting a temporary order blocking his discharge. The petition contends that a discharge would violate Colonel Fehrenbach’s rights, cause him irreparable harm and fail to meet standards established in a 2008 federal court ruling on don’t ask, don’t tell.

For advocates of abolishing the ban against gay men, lesbians and bisexuals serving openly, Colonel Fehrenbach’s case has become something of a line in the sand. Though President Obama has called for ending the ban and Congress has begun moving in that direction, gay service members continue to face investigations and discharge, albeit at a lower rate than in past years.

Lawyers for Colonel Fehrenbach assert that his case is among the most egregious applications of the policy in their experience. The Air Force investigation into his sexuality began with a complaint from a civilian that was eventually dismissed by the Idaho police and the local prosecutor as unfounded, according to court papers. Colonel Fehrenbach has never publicly said that he is gay.

However, during an interview with an Idaho law enforcement official, he acknowledged having consensual sex with his accuser. Colonel Fehrenbach’s lawyers say he did not realize Air Force investigators were observing that interview; his admission led the Air Force to open its “don’t ask” investigation.

Under new regulations issued by Defense Secretary Robert Gates this year, “don’t ask” investigations must be based on information from credible sources. Colonel Fehrenbach’s lawyers argue that the credibility of his accuser is clearly undermined by the dismissal of the sexual assault case.

His lawyers also assert that his case underscores the ways the ban hurts military readiness, the very thing it is supposed to protect. They say that Colonel Fehrenbach’s performance reviews were consistently glowing, including his most recent one, which says he was a “proven leader” who “raised morale” in his unit, according to papers filed by his lawyers.

Joe Sudbay at Americablog has the legal filing.

You may recall that last year, at the LGBT cocktail reception on June 29, 2009, while so many of our “leaders” were enjoying their cocktails and reveling in their A-list status, Fehrenbach actually had a very important and substantive conversation with President Obama about his situation. According to Victor, who appeared that same night on Rachel Maddow’s show:
[Obama] looked me right in the eye and he said, “We’re going to get this done.” And then he continued to say, you know, everyone seems to be onboard. We’ve got about 75 percent of the public that supports this. He said, but we have a generational issue. And so, there is some convincing to do, that there is a generational gap it seems and some of the senior leadership.

Well over a year later, it hasn’t been done. And, Victor’s lawyers know that his discharge is imminent.

In March 2010, Fehrenbach received the Winchell Courage Award at the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network Annual Dinner and he gave a moving speech about his experience to date. It is below the fold.

Fehrenbach:

First let me say that I am truly humbled, honored, and grateful for this recognition tonight.  

I am especially honored that it was presented by Pat and Wally Kutteles.  I don’t have words to describe what this means to me.  I only hope that I can do honor to Barry’s memory and live up to his legacy.  This fight is for him and the thousands of others who did not have a voice.  Thank you so much!  

Congressman Murphy, thank you – not only for your inspiring words tonight – but more importantly, for your military service and your leadership in Congress.  It’s so important that we have a combat veteran lead this fight, because YOU know first-hand that this is not only about equal rights, but also national security.  Thank you, sir.
Of all the awards  and decorations that I’ve received throughout my career, THIS has the most meaning to me, because it was the most hard-fought…NOT by me, but by the thousands of brave, honorable service members who have came before me, laying the groundwork and giving me the inspiration to speak out.  

No ONE person truly deserves this honor, because no ONE person has earned it alone.  No one has courage ALONE.

I want to thank pioneers like Colonel Margaret Cammermeyer, Commander Zoe Dunning, Sergeant Darren Manzella, and my hero, Major Margaret Witt, to name a few – for giving me HOPE.

I want to thank Aubrey Sarvis and the hundreds of SLDN volunteers who have served over the years, and especially now.  Some of us have been called “the voice,” but SLDN has always been “the heart and the soul” of this fight.  For years, you faced the tough challenges, did the hard work, got your hands dirty, trying to make life better for thousands of brave, patriotic Americans.  And you do all of this with no fanfare, and too often, very little thanks.  I have received thousands of messages from all over the world, thanking ME for speaking out.  But really, ALL of those messages were for YOU!  Without SLDN, I would have never had a voice and I would have never had the courage.  

I want to give another special thanks to Rachel Maddow.  Not only did she give me a voice, but she was perhaps the only person in the national media who kept this issue on the front burner-on ANY burner-for years.  She publicly pressed policy makers to keep their promises and she made sure this struggle was consistently in the public consciousness.  Rachel:  Thanks so much for your leadership, your voice, your dedication, and most of all, your friendship!

At the end of the day, I don’t think anything I have done was due to courage on MY part.  I simply did the right thing-did what my mama taught me, as they say-and I felt I had an obligation and duty to speak out.  People have courage, because of the love, strength, and faith of those around them.  No one has courage ALONE.  

Few people know this, but for a year, while I was going through this struggle very privately, only five of my closest friends knew what was going on in my life.  The day I was informed of my possible discharge, still in utter shock, I called Mike Almy.  He went through this pain 3 years earlier.  After a long, panicked conversation, he advised me to go to SLDN’s website and read everything I could, and then call them as soon as I could.  He told me that SLDN could help.  And so I have to thank Mike for, really, EVERYTHING since then.  The next week, I called my four other best friends-Mike, Jenny, Jimbo, and Nick-told them my story and asked for advice.  I told them I just wanted a quick, quiet, fair, honorable discharge….I wanted to make this ALL go away, get a job, and move on with life.  They all agreed.  After days of soul searching, I had a change of heart.  I thought that perhaps I could tell my story, and make a positive impact and help others.  When I mentioned this to my five close friends, they ALL admitted that’s what they wanted me to say from the first day.  From that point, every time a major issue or decision came up, I called them for their advice.  They helped me make the ultimate decision to go public last spring.  Just saying thank you to these five can never be enough.  This honor is for them-it is for THEIR courage.

My last, and most important, thanks goes to my family:  to my mom-the greatest, strongest person I’ve ever known, to my 7 brothers and sisters, and to my 17 nieces and nephews.  Without THEIR courage, strength, and love, none of this would have ever happened.  Because, you see-very few people know this as well-but every single one of them got a vote.

Last May, when I contacted Kevin and Emily at SLDN and told them I had made the decision to go public, they were excited and made all the arrangements in just a few short days.  I was scheduled to appear on The Rachel Maddow Show on Tuesday, but there was a catch:  it was Friday, and I hadn’t even COME OUT to my family yet, let alone told them I was getting thrown out of the military, let alone that I was going on national TV to talk about it.  

Now, I drop bombs for a living, but these were three really big bombs!  

So I told Kevin and Emily that I would tell my family over the weekend, and if any ONE person in my family had any ONE reason to say NO, the deal would be off.  I was not about to drag any member of my family through all of this.  One by one, they ALL agreed, not only SHOULD I do this, but I HAD to do this-it was a duty….an obligation.  
After this support structure was set up on Monday, I told my mom.  She simply said that we were ALL in this together, and that she loved me, was proud of me, and supported me.  This honor is for her and for them-it is for THEIR courage. No one has courage ALONE.  

To all of the amazing people I’ve acknowledge tonight, I owe a tremendous debt that cannot be measured, nor fully repaid.  I can only MAKE one simple promise:  to pay it forward-to help others the way you’ve helped me.  And I can KEEP another simple promise, in the words of my Commander-in-Chief:  ”WE WILL GET THIS DONE!”

     Thank you for this incredible honor.  God bless you, and God bless America!

Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

—  John Wright