Friday, May 28, 2010

Sex and the City Ladies talk Gay Marriage

from Towleroad:

Dan Choi to embark on hunger strike

From Lt. Dan Choi, as quoted in towleroad:
Immediately following congressional mark-ups on the National Defense Authorization Act 2011, Captain James Pietrangelo and I will commence a fast in pursuit of Equality and Dignity. We have three demands of President Barack Obama.

DEMAND #1: End the Comprehensive Working Group "Study," which insults the dignity of all Americans.
DEMAND #2: End "Don't Ask Don't Tell" discharges forever.
DEMAND #3: Replace all discriminatory regulations in the military with a comprehensive non-discrimination policy. 
This action is not organized in the name of any organization.

Dan  Choi has been critical of the compromise that is now being debated, saying that it is a delaying tactic.  Yes, it certainly delays repeal.  As a matter of fact, there are even more stipulations for its repeal once the study by the Department of Defense is completed in December.  The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff has stated that the proposed legislation includes "very clear language" that gives senior leaders the final say in whether it's implemented.  So what if these senior leaders decide to say no?  The rebellion of military leaders against allowing LGBT people to serve in the Clinton years has left many folks skeptical of any possible deal.

As for me, I'll wait and see before forming an opinion.  If this compromise leads to a repeal of DADT in the very near future, then I'll applaud the efforts of this week.  But if it is delayed for any significant length of time, or if the repeal doesn't take effect, then you can count me in as someone who no longer trusts the Democratic Party or its leaders.

Today's letter to President Obama

May 27, 2010

President Barack H. Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue Northwest
Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President,

I served my country for over 30 years. I enlisted in the Army as a private and retired as a Major General. During that time, I saw a great deal of change in the Armed Forces. Racial segregation was ended in the ranks, women were recognized as equals and we moved to an all volunteer force.

My father was a laborer, my mother a domestic worker. I knew that there was no way I was headed for college. As a young Black Man I enlisted in the army long before President Truman desegregated the armed forces.

I served in segregated units (all Black) before being selected for Officers Candidate School. I then attended an integrated Leadership Academy and then Officers Candidate School which was also integrated. After graduation from OCS I was assigned to a combat arms unit for which I had been trained. I was reassigned to a service unit (Graves Registration) that was all Black.

The message was clear: It did not matter that I was qualified to serve in a combat arms unit that happen to be all white. It only mattered that I was Black.

Mr. President, I know what it is like to be thought of as second-class, and I know what it is like to have your hard work dismissed because of who you are or what you look like. I also know what a difference it made to me and others when President Truman eliminated segregation in the Armed Forces and placed qualification ahead of discrimination.

As a retired Army Commander, I also know how disruptive it is to remove a trained skilled member from a unit. In Korea, I had a Sergeant First Class in my unit who was gay. it was no secret. He was in charge of the unit’s communication. He was essential to our performance and our survival and he was dam good at his job. If I had to remove him, our unit’s effectiveness, as well as morale, most certainly would have been harmed.

Military leadership is about being able to constantly adapt to change, and I have seen the Army implement significant change and react to new directives since I enlisted. Perhaps the greatest military change is that we are now an all volunteer force. I cannot believe that we could have made that transition successfully if the services were still segregated or if the roles of women in the ranks had not been greatly expanded.

The services have, for the most part, kept pace with changes in American society as to matters of race and gender. Likewise, they must now keep pace with the changed attitude among the American people, especially younger generations, concerning sexual orientation. If they do not, military service will become a less viable option for more and more young people, and the quality of our forces will suffer. I suggest that the warriors of tomorrow will not want to become a part of an institution that does not respect their peers.

The men and women who volunteer to serve, especially in dangerous times, are the most important resource of our armed services. This includes the lesbian and gay troops who have served – and – are serving honorably. Just like their heterosexual service members, they risk their lives to defend our country. Our country owes it to them, and to all our troops to treat all who serve with respect and gratitude.

Our armed services believe in, and promote, the idea that one person can make a real difference. To commanders on the ground in Iraq, an Arabic linguist can make a difference. To a parent, whose son is bleeding on the battlefield, one lesbian nurse can make a difference.

You, too, Mr. President, can and will make a real difference here. You can make a difference in whether “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” is repealed this year, and whether implementation comes shortly thereafter.

As Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.” Mr. President, do all you can; stand with us and work with us to end this denigration of our American values.

Major General Vance Coleman
United States Army (Ret.)

John Lewis

Yet one more reason why John Lewis is my hero.  I don't know of a politician with more integrity, courage, and dedication than this man.

Keep this tape on file

Keep this tape from Think Progress on file.  These are the George Wallaces, the bigots,  of history.  It's funny how when they speak of soldiers spilling blood, there's absolutely no understanding that some of those soldiers are gay.

Mark Bingham and John McCain

Mark Bingham might very well have saved John McCain's life.  At least that's what McCain said in Bingham's eulogy.  "I may very well owe my life to Mark," he said.  And he went further: "I love my country and I take pride in serving her.  But I cannot say that I love her more or as well as Mark Bingham did."

On Sepetember 11, 2001, Mark Bingham was one of the passengers   who stormed the cockpit on United Flight 93 and brought the plane down in Pennsylvania so that it would not crash into the Capitol or the White House.

He was a very brave man.  And John McCain, despite his effusive praise, would ask that Mark not serve in the United States Military.

Mark Bingham, a star rugby player, was gay.

It has been wrenching to see John McCain abandon his principles to be reelected senator of Arizona.  First it was his support of the "papers, please" law, something he never would have done earlier.  Now, not only is he opposing repeal of DADT, he demanded on Thursday that the hearings be televised.  He wants everyone to see him fighting like hell to keep LGBT people out of the military.  It's all posturing: he's running against a far right conservative, and he's doing everything he can to seem as conservative.  (He even recently claimed he was not "a maverick," a word he and Sarah Palin used endlessly in the presidential campaign.) He's using American lives to score political points.  He wants to woo conservatives on the backs of men like Mark Bingham and every other gay person in America.

Well, John McCain, it may work.  You may be able to right-wing your way to reelection.  You've spent millions of dollars to be reelected, but that doesn't compare to the price of your soul that you put up for sale.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Repeal of DADT (the compromise)...closer to reality this afternoon?

 MSNBC just released the following story:

Nebraska Sen. Ben Nelson (D) announced today that he will support the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal because he doesn't believe "that most Nebraskans want to continue a policy that not only encourages but requires people to be deceptive and to lie," he said in a statement. "In a military which values honesty and integrity, this policy encourages deceit.”

Nelson becomes the crucial 15th vote in the Senate Armed Services Committee that critics of the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy need to include the amendment in the annual defense spending bill. Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-D), along with Sen. Carl Levin (D) and Rep. Patrick Murphy (D), are the main proponents behind this compromise.

This comes after the White House backed the compromise on Monday. Nelson, along with several other senators, was waiting to hear from the White House before making a decision. He ultimately chose to support the repeal because “it removes politics from the process. It bases implementation of the repeal on the Pentagon’s review.”

In response, the president of the Human Rights Campaign, the nation's largest gay-rights group, thanked Nelson for “being on the right side of history.”

The Senate Armed Services Committee will vote on the repeal this Thursday.

Dan Choi speaks of the DADT compormise

While many LGBT organizations such as the Human Rights Campaign are praising the compromise on DADT, Dan Choi, discharged service member turned activist, has another view:

(via Pam's House Blend)

Letter to President Obama

The latest letter to President Obama about DADT, just as Congress  considers a compromise.

May 25, 2010

President Barack H. Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue Northwest
Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President,

On the morning of Tuesday, September 11th, 2001, I was monitoring the events unfolding in New York City while tending to patients in the Emergency Department at Duke University Medical Center. The leadership of the department was activating our disaster plan to accept as many patients as possible from the New York area. All too quickly, it became evident that there would be no need for our hospital to activate.

I knew that brutal attack would not go unanswered. I knew my leadership and medical skills soon would be needed to care for those who would be sent into harm’s way. Naively, I thought that mission needs would trump my being a lesbian, but a few weeks later, I received a notice in the mail. It was signed on September 10th, 2001 by the Secretary of the Air Force. I was discharged.

My military career was over.

I was a proud member of the tenth class of women to graduate from the United States Air Force Academy. I graduated in the top 15 percent of my class and was named Academic All-American/All-American in women’s golf. I entered active duty service as an acquisition officer and just three years later, was selected to the commanding general’s staff while only a first lieutenant.

With the encouragement of my mentor, the future Air Force Surgeon General, I applied and was accepted to medical school on a military scholarship. Before I left for medical school, I was honored by two retired women general officers – each gave me one of their stars and told me they planned to be there to provide the match to the pair.

While in medical school, I fell in love with my best friend. While most people are thrilled to have found their true love, their soul mate, I agonized over it. That’s because my friend, my love, and my soul mate was a woman.

It was the fall semester of my final year of medical school. I was forced to make a life-altering decision. For nearly two years, I had been stalked. My home had been broken into and I had received credible threats to be outed by a civilian with no attachment to the military. I had to take control of the situation for my safety, for my sanity, and to protect my honorable service record.

The hardest call I ever had to make was to my mentor. I was ashamed to have let him down and to have wasted his efforts in molding my career. I felt like I had to apologize for breathing the same air as the rest of the world. I was devastated that I couldn’t continue to be part of the air force family who’d raised me and counted on me.

My mentor was gracious and kind. He didn’t care that I was a lesbian and considered it a mistake to let me go. He assured me that I would only disappoint him if I didn’t use all I’d been given to make a difference in this world.

I have done my best. I have supported two of my step children as they made their way from West Point to Iraq. I have cared for the sick and injured children of my community as they arrive in the emergency department.

But it will never be the same as the best I could have given in uniform. Every day my country is at war, I think about my military family; I am not there for them. Every day, I am reminded that, simply because of who I love, my country has said I’m not good enough to help save the lives of our women and men in uniform.

Mr. President, thank you for helping us end “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” this year.


Former Capt. Beth Schissel
United States Air Force

Makes me want to buy a quarter pounder and fries

Here's a summary translation of the video ad that is playing in France.  Thank you, MacDonald's.  Such a simple message, yet so powerful.  I look forward to the time when we can see this ad on US television.  Thanks also to Joe Jervis....who continues to set the standard for blogging.

Boy looks at class picture. Cell phone rings.

Hello. Yeah, I was thinking of you, too - I'm looking at our class picture. I miss you. Have to go, my father's here. Love you.

Is that your class picture ? I looked just like you when I was your age. The girls were all over me! Too bad there are only boys in your class, you could be a big success!

Come as you are. McDonald's.

The future of DADT

As you no doubt already know, there is news of a compromise measure on DADT.  The bill calls for DADT to be repealed but not until December, when the Defense Department's study on gays in the military is finished.  President Obama would then sign this new policy into law.  But there would be more studies, apparently, to see how LGBT people are mixing with the other soldiers.  In other words, the policy would be repealed, but then would have to be "seconded" some time in the future.  It's strange: here we have another compromise (think health care policy) yet as far as I know, the compromise hasn't produced one Republican vote that wouldn't have been there before. 

Most LGBT groups are praising the compromise as a major step forward in civil rights for LGBT people.  Some don't like the compromise; they are urging an end to all these studies and an immediate repeal.  They don't like the idea of a promise of repeal contingent upon some future agreement.

The compromise comes at the same time a CNN poll found that 78% of the public believes that LGBT people should serve openly.  78%!!  Is there any other issue that has such solid agreement?

What we don't yet know is whether or not the bill has enough votes to even get out of committee. Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown (right) announced yesterday that he does not support repeal at this time and will vote to continue with the status quo.  I think this will hurt Scott Brown in the long run.  The Tea Baggers are already furious with him and have vowed to defeat him in 2012.  (Talk about a short marriage.  They must have thrown Minute Rice at the wedding.)  Voting against repeal doesn't endear him again to the Tea Baggers yet it also puts him at odds with the vast majority of Massachusetts voters.

Still, there's optimism about repeal.  "It's tight, but I believe we'll get there," says Aubrey Sarvis, according to NPR.  Sarvis is an Army veteran who heads the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, which represents military members affected by the controversial "don''t ask, don't tell" policy.

Some Democrats, such as Ben Nelson and Jim Webb, are against repeal, while Senators Bayh and Byrd have yet to announce their intentions.  Bayh has received criticism recently for an ill-conceived joke about AIDS in a speech.  Susan Collins (left), Republican from Maine, has indicated that she will vote to repeal DADT now.  She probably would have voted with us without the compromise.  The two senators from Maine have shown more independence from the Republican Party than any other legislators.

It could go either way.  In the meantime, it sure would be nice to see President Obama use his bully pulpit to gather support for change.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Andrew Cuomo Announces Run for Governor

We should never forget New York Governor Patterson's support of gay marriage even as he steps down from the governor's seat next year.   He was there when we needed him.

Still, we are very lucky that Andrew Cuomo has annouced his candidacy for the governorship of New York.  What was rare about his announcement was that he cited gay marriage as one of his top priorities in his announcement.  We get so used to politicians dancing around the issue or trying to sweep our rights under the rug, that it's a breath of fresh air to hear politicians like Cuomo.

Here's some of what Michael Boyajian of the Huffington Post said about Cuomo's announcement:

Same sex marriage advocates have been fighting to advance marriage equality in New York State after the debacle in the state's senate last year by reaching out to the public, fielding senate candidates and by raising money.

Now comes a burst of fresh energy from Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Cuomo who in his battle cry online campaign kick-off announcement chose marriage equality as one of the select issues of his candidacy bringing hope to civil rights proponents across the state and nationally.

In the announcement he decries the delinquency of Albany vowing to straighten out the mess that has been years in the making and that is really the crux of the problem because but for the floundering in the senate marriage equality would be the law today in the state.

Cuomo who made big changes while President Bill Clinton's HUD secretary and fought Wall Street king-pins and other corporate rip off artists as attorney general brings a take charge can do attitude to the position of Governor unseen since his father Mario Cuomo's three terms in office and Nelson Rockefeller's four terms when under both New York was truly the progressive Empire State and a beacon of hope for millions of people.

Cuomo knows it's not enough to merely say you support an issue that you have to also work hard Lyndon Johnson style to see it through to fruition.  His proactive background raises the morale of New York's battling gay community at a time when support for marriage equality is gaining momentum even in religious circles.   Many believe that the dynamic Cuomo brings to the table will be enough to push the legislation over its final hurdle in the senate.

Critics, who also happen to oppose marriage equality, accuse him of being an insider having been a director of his father's administration.  But one must remember that though he might be an insider he fights like an outsider giving him the advantages of both those on the inside and outside in this the first salvo of the march to the first Tuesday in November.

Harvey Milk Day

Here’s a nice story from Boston. I love the idea of Harvey Milkshakes:

After two legislative attempts by Senator Mark Leno, a posthumous Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Obama, and the Oscar-winning 2008 movie Milk, May 22nd was celebrated across the United States as Harvey Milk Day, on what would have been the gay rights pioneer's 80th birthday. Somewhere, Harvey is smiling and dancing in celebration!

California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger finally agreed that the slain civil rights leader deserved a day of recognition, after years of pressure from the California legislature, LGBT rights groups, and his wife, Maria Shriver, who was instrumental in getting Milk inducted into the California Hall of Fame in 2009.

Concerts, political fundraisers and rallies were held in California, and commemorative Harvey Milk Day events were held in 20 other U.S. states.

Milk was the first openly gay man to win elected office in a major, after several years of failed attempts to win various lower political positions. He was a member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in 1978, when he and Mayor George Moscone were assassinated at City Hall by former supervisor Dan White, who pleaded the infamous "Twinkie defense". White was convicted of manslaughter, which led to the White Night Riots in San Francisco, and he later committed suicide after serving two years of a five-year sentence.

In San Francisco, where Milk moved to from New York in the late 1960's during the height of the civil rights movement, a Milk plaque dedication occurred at the site of his old camera store, Castro Camera. There is already a large mural of Harvey on the wall of the store, which is now an upscale furniture boutique called Given. A free showing of the movie Milk was also shown at the nearby historic Castro Theater.

Harvey Milk's legacy is credited with numerous accomplishments, among them organizing a few hundred people for the world's first "Gay Freedom" parade, which has now grown to a worldwide movement referred to simply as Pride, and includes millions of participants of all sexual orientations. Milk is also remembered for helping to defeat a ballot initiative that would have prevented gay teachers from working at public schools in California.

As a demonstration of Harvey's lasting impact, at San Juan Hills High School in conservative Orange County, California, state achievement tests prevented classroom activities, but 15-year-old Benji Delgadillo and other members of the school's Gay-Straight Alliance Club sold Harvey milkshakes and handed out fliers after school explaining who Mr. Milk was.

“Harvey Milk is a civil rights icon who sparked a movement that today is really helping to address the issues of harassment that lesbian, gay, bisexual, queer or gender non-conforming students face in our school and our community,” Benji said.

Harvey's nephew, Stuart Milk told the AP he thinks his uncle would be thrilled by the various tributes, but he also wants his day to be more about uniting all marginalized minorities than merely about gay rights or the accomplishments of one man.

“It's still a hard concept for people to get,” Stuart Milk said. “This isn't about having a Harvey Milk curriculum in every school. It's an opportunity to talk about what discrimination means and why it's important for everyone to feel included.”

No intro needed

A Bad Christian Example

Sad, isn't it? This "minister" considers himself a Christian but encourages violence. He has a church where people listen to this garbage. And he is now touring the country with his hateful message. (Note: he recently acknowledged that advocating violence was misguided; time will tell if he has really seen the light.)  Thank you to Joe Jervis for posting this video on his blog.

Shenandoah Baptist Church's Pastor Jeff Owens: BURN AND SHOOT FAGS! from Joe Jervis on Vimeo.