BREAKING: Supreme Court allows DADT to remain in effect pending government’s appeal

As expected, the U.S. Supreme Court on Friday refused to prevent the military from enforcing “don’t ask don’t tell” during the government’s appeal of a ruling that declared the policy unconstitutional.

Here’s a statement in response to the high court’s ruling from Servicemembers United:

“It is unfortunate that an unconstitutional law that is causing substantial harm to military readiness and to tens of thousands of troops is allowed to remain in effect for even one more day,” said Alexander Nicholson, executive director of Servicemembers United and the only named veteran plaintiff in the case. “This just underscores the need to continue to put pressure on Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to allow the defense authorization bill to come back up and take its first procedural step before the Senate’s Thanksgiving recess. Servicemembers United, Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, Stonewall Democrats and the Log Cabin Republicans have all strongly and consistently called on Senator Reid to do just that. It is now time for other organizations, as well as the White House, to publicly do the same.”

Read more at Politico.

—  John Wright

WATCH: President Obama says ‘It Gets Better’

The above was posted late Thursday on the White House YouTube channel. Brian Bond, the White House’s liaison to the LGBT community, has a blog post up about the video here. Below is a transcript of Obama’s comments:

Like all of you, I was shocked and saddened by the deaths of several young people who were bullied and taunted for being gay, and who ultimately took their own lives.  As a parent of two daughters, it breaks my heart.  It’s something that just shouldn’t happen in this country.

We’ve got to dispel the myth that bullying is just a normal rite of passage – that it’s some inevitable part of growing up.  It’s not.  We have an obligation to ensure that our schools are safe forall of our kids.  And to every young person out there you need to know that if you’re in trouble, there are caring adults who can help.

I don’t know what it’s like to be picked on for being gay.  But I do know what it’s like to grow up feeling that sometimes you don’t belong.  It’s tough.  And for a lot of kids, the sense of being alone or apart – I know can just wear on you.  And when you’re teased or bullied, it can seem like somehow you brought it on yourself – for being different, or for not fitting in with everybody else.

But what I want to say is this.  You are not alone.  You didn’t do anything wrong.  You didn’t do anything to deserve being bullied.  And there is a whole world waiting for you, filled with possibilities. There are people out there who love you and care about you just the way you are. And so, if you ever feel like because of bullying, because of what people are saying, that you’re getting down on yourself, you’ve got to make sure to reach out to people you trust. Whether it’s your parents, teachers, folks that you know care about you just the way you are. You’ve got to reach out to them,  don’t feel like you’re in this by yourself.

The other thing you need to know is, things will get better.  And more than that, with time you’re going to see that your differences are a source of pride and a source of strength. You’ll look back on the struggles you’ve faced with compassion and wisdom. And that’s not just going to serve you, but it will help you get involved and make this country a better place.

It will mean that you’ll be more likely to help fight discrimination – not just against LGBT Americans, but discrimination in all its forms. It means you’ll be more likely to understand personally and deeply why it’s so important that as adults we set an example in our own lives and that we treat everybody with respect. That we are able to see the world through other people’s eyes and stand in their shoes – that we never lose sight of what binds us together.

As a nation we’re founded on the belief that all of us are equal and each of us deserves the freedom to pursue our own version of happiness; to make the most of our talents; to speak our minds; to not fit in; most of all, to be true to ourselves.  That’s the freedom that enriches all of us.  That’s what America is all about.  And every day, it gets better.

—  John Wright

Groom-to-be Mark Reed of Dallas named to GetEQUAL’s new Board of Directors

Mark Reed, far right, is shown chained to the White House fence prior to his arrest in May. Reed, of Dallas, has been named to GetEQUAL’s Board of Directors.

Dallas activist Mark Reed has been named to the nine-member Board of Directors for GetEQUAL, the national LGBT direct action group.

Reed, who co-owns a lighting company on Oak Lawn Avenue with his partner, Dante Walkup, served on the executive steering committee for last year’s National Equality March. Since then, he’s participated in several GetEQUAL actions. In May Reed was arrested for chaining himself to the White House fence in protest of “don’t ask don’t tell.”

“I accepted a board member position with GetEQUAL because I strongly believe in their mission to inspire our community to rise up and demand full equality and social justice,” Reed told Instant Tea on Wednesday. “For too long we have been asked to be patient for our rights and that strategy has clearly not worked. As Cleve Jones has stated, ‘If we want to be equal, we have to act like we are.’ For me, that means refusing to be treated like a second-class citizen and holding leaders accountable who don’t believe the time is right for our freedom.

“I am very impressed with the talent of people recruited to join the provisional board and am looking forward to working with them to provide leadership and guidance to GetEQUAL. This position is for a six-month period and a decision to remain with the board will be determined at the end of my term.”

According to Reed’s bio on the GetEQUAL website, he and Walkup, who’ve been together for 1o years, plan to marry on Oct. 10, 2010.

—  John Wright

President Obama: 'Change never comes [from] — or at least never begins — in Washington'

President Obama on Tuesday spoke to a group of LGBT activists who were invited to a reception at the White House in honor of National Gay Pride Month.

Above is a video, released by the White House, of the president’s remarks during that reception. And here are a few of the highlights from his speech:

“Now, look, the fact that we’ve got activists here is important because it’s a reminder that change never comes — or at least never begins in – Washington. It begins with acts of compassion — and sometimes defiance — across America. It begins when ordinary people — out of love for a mother or a father, son or daughter, or husband or wife — speak out against injustices that have been accepted for too long. And it begins when these impositions of conscience start opening hearts that had been closed, and when we finally see each other’s humanity, whatever our differences. Now, this struggle is as old as America itself. It’s never been easy. But standing here, I am hopeful. …

“Because I believe in committed — I believe that committed gay and lesbian couples deserve the same rights and responsibilities afforded to any married couple in this country, I have called for Congress to repeal the so-called Defense of Marriage Act.  We are pushing hard to pass an inclusive employee non-discrimination bill. No one in America should be fired because they’re gay. It’s not right, it’s not who we are as Americans, and we are going to put a stop to it.

“And finally, we’re going to end ‘don’t ask don’t tell.’ That is a promise I made as a candidate. It is a promise that I reiterated as president.  It’s one that this administration is going to keep. Now, the only way to lock this in — the only way to get the votes in Congress to roll back this policy — is if we work with the Pentagon, who are in the midst of two wars.”

—  admin

Is anyone from Texas invited to Tuesday's gay Pride reception at the White House?

President Barack Obama is hosting a Pride reception at the White House tomorrow. Yippee!

The list of attendees hasn’t been made public, but The Washington Blade is reporting that “invitations generally were restricted to the heads of state equality groups, members of the LGBT community with compelling stories and a contingent of LGBT youth.”

We’ve sent a message to Chuck Smith, interim executive director at Equality Texas, to find out whether he’s invited or is going. And we haven’t heard anything about other invitees from Texas, so if you’re one of them, feel free to let us know.

Despite all our “compelling stories,” we didn’t receive an invitation here at Instant Tea. And yes, we feel snubbed. When is Obama going to start recognizing our accomplishments? Probably whenever we stop criticizing his administration and start giving him money.

—  John Wright

BREAKING: White House OKs DADT plan

There was huge news out of Washington on Monday night, as it looks like the White House has signed off on a proposal to repeal “don’t ask don’t tell” by delaying implementation of the change until after the Pentagon completes its working group study.

The proposed repeal of DADT has been in doubt for weeks, after Defense Secretary Robert Gates said he was opposed to lifting the policy before the study is completed in December. However, this green light from the White House paves the way for the House and Senate to take up the repeal later this week.

The White House on Monday night issued a Statement of Administration Policy in support of the delayed implementation proposal, which was submitted by congressional leaders who are committed to a legislative repeal this year.

“The White House announcement is a dramatic breakthrough in dismantling ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,’” said Aubrey Sarvis, executive director of the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, in a statement. “The path forward crafted by the President, Department of Defense officials, and repeal leaders on Capitol Hill respects the ongoing work by the Pentagon on how to implement open service and allows for a vote this week. President Obama’s support and Secretary Gates’ buy-in should insure a winning vote, but we are not there yet. The votes still need to be worked and counted.

“If enacted this welcomed compromise will create a process for the President and the Pentagon to implement a new policy for lesbian and gay service members to serve our country openly, hopefully within a matter of a few months,” Sarvis said. “This builds upon the support Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Admiral Michael Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, expressed for open service during the February hearing in the Senate, and further underscores that this Administration is committed to open service.”

—  John Wright

BREAKING NEWS: Deal possible on DADT

The Advocate is reporting that representatives from Congress, the White House and LGBT groups were working on a deal this morning that would allow a legislative repeal of “don’t ask don’t tell” to go forward this year. The proposed repeal of the military’s ban on open service is expected to be considered in both the House and Senate later in the week. From The Advocate’s Kerry Eleveld:

LGBT groups met with officials at the White House while legislative affairs representatives from the White House and the Department of Defense met with the House and Senate leadership offices on Capitol Hill along with those of Rep. Patrick Murphy and Sens. Carl Levin and Joseph Lieberman.

A White House aide who spoke on the condition of anonymity confirmed the White House meeting. “Our understanding is that Congress is determined to act this week and we are learning more about their proposal now,” said the aide.

A Democratic leadership aide called the development “promising” but said discussions were ongoing. The House Democratic leadership is expected to meet about the proposal later this afternoon.

According to one person familiar with the White House meeting, the proposal that is being considered would legislatively repeal the statute this year, but the current policy would remain in place and implementation of repeal would not occur until after the Pentagon’s working group study is finished in December. Further, completion of repeal would require certification from President Barack Obama, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, and Joint Chiefs Chair Admiral Mike Mullen that the new law will not have a negative impact on readiness, recruitment, retention and other key factors that affect the military.

Also this morning, we received an update on the DADT repeal from Dave Guy-Gainer, a Tarrant County resident who serves on the board of the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network. I’ve posted Guy-Gainer’s update after the jump.

—  John Wright

Mark Reed reflects on arrest for chaining self to White House fence during DADT rally

Mark Reed, far right, was released from jail Monday and ordered to pay a $100 fine.
Mark Reed, far right, was released from jail after 24 hours on Monday and ordered to pay a $100 fine.

Ironically, as he stood with one arm handcuffed to the White House fence on Sunday afternoon, Dallas activist Mark Reed says he felt “liberated.”

Reed, a successful business owner who’s in his early 50s, said he’d never been arrested before and hadn’t even had a traffic ticket in 10 years.

In fact, he’d always figured that if he were arrested, he’d probably faint due to his fear of authorities.

Strangely, though, that didn’t happen.

—  John Wright

Mark Reed of Dallas among 6 activists arrested for chaining themselves to White House fence

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Mark Reed of Dallas was among six people arrested today for chaining themselves to the White House fence during a “don’t ask, don’t tell” protest organized by GetEQUAL, Queer Rising and Talk About Equality. Reed is on the far right in the above photo, which was just posted on GetEQUAL’s Facebook page. Reed and the other five activists have been taken to the Anacosita Park police station, according to reports, and they likely will have to spend the night in jail. Whoever has Reed’s phone, presumably partner Dante Walkup, sent me a text message a few minutes ago saying, “He was proud when they took him away! Even happier when they let him keep his cigarettes.” Below is video of former DNC Chairman Howard Dean addressing the rally. For additional coverage, see The Advocate.

UPDATE: GetEQUAL confirms via Twitter that Reed and others will spend the night in jail. They’ll appear in municipal court Monday morning.

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—  John Wright

GetEQUAL releases new video to promote next rally

The direct action group GetEQUAL released this video featuring Lt. Dan Choi in advance of a May 2 demonstration at noon in front of the White House protesting “Don’t ask, don’t tell.” Choi has been arrested twice in the last two months for chaining himself to the White House fence protesting the military policy.

At the last protest, police chased reporters out of Lafayette Park when they made their arrests. Over the weekend, the White House apologized for being overly aggressive with the media covering the event.

GetEQUAL wants to coordinate other actions with their D.C. protest. On their YouTube channel they wrote:

There will be a rally in Washington DC on Sunday, May 2, 2010 to pressure the President with the demand he transmit IMMEDIATELY to the Senate Armed Service Committee the language for repeal into the Defense Authorization Bill.

If you would like to plan your action for this date, by all means do. If not please email the date and details of your action plan to: DADTRepeal@gmail.com so we can try to coordinate and assist in publicizing!

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—  David Taffet