exactly that

Posts tagged ‘DADT’

Great, Dan, But I Think You Missed The Point…

So, LT Dan Choi apparently feels that it is OK to call someone a “pussy” as an insult, as if that is the worst thing you can call someone, when something doesn’t go his way, and then, when someone speaks out against it and criticizes him for it, make a fauxpology saying he is the actual victim here, because he is a survivor of MST himself, and the Service Women’s Action Network was too “over the top” by writing a letter to him demanding he apologize.

That is some real 1 + Blue = Chair logic, and I am not sure I follow it. His reasoning just isn’t getting me from point A to B…

~*~

The thing is, Dan, that you used sexist slurs in your defense of DADT, and you didn’t have to do so. You were wrong. You were a grade A jerk about it, and you are continuing to be. Your fake apology to the Service Women’s Action Network is showing that loud and clear with every tweet you make defending your sexist remarks. And you were awful, on top of it, to a public servant to also worked tirelessly to make the repeal happen.

Lt Choi, as a woman, a Veteran, and a social justice activist who has worked diligently for the repeal of DADT, and who also took the failure of the DAA under which it was attached very very hard, I am gobsmacked, appalled, deeply offended, but not surprised, by your insistence that you were the true victim here. All too often I see people who suffer under one oppression turn to another oppressed group and take their aggression out on that group in order to further their own cause. That is exactly what you have done with your sexist remarks.

I always expect more of my officers, and you should expect more of yourself, sir.

If you insist on wearing your uniform, represent yourself properly while in it. Some of us are no longer allowed to wear it, and resent you disrespecting it with abhorrent behavior in the name of social justice. You are not helping anyone by drawing lines in the sand and alienating those of us who are on your side.

Respectfully,

Brandann,

Veteran,

USN

A Message From Lady Gaga to The Senate

Note from imissedtumblr: This transcript is going to be quick & dirty because I have a meeting in 30 minutes. None of the names are spelled correctly, I’m sorry.  (I’m typing this part at the end and I have to run.)  If someone has the time to clean this up, I’d really appreciate it.

This is a black & White video with Lady Gaga sitting in front of a US-flag, looking very serious and speaking directly to the camera.

Transcript by Anna, slightly edited by Yours, Truly:

To my fellow Americans, the Senate, Senators John McCain, Arizona, Mitch McConnell, Kentucy, James Inhofe, Oklahoma, Jeff Sessions, Alabama, and youth, all over the world who are watching

Don’t Ask Don’t Tell is a law that was created in 1993 that prevents gays from serving openly in the military.  Since then, 14,000 Americans have been discharged from the forces, refused the right to serve their country, and sent home, regardless of honourable service or how valuable they may have been to their units.  400 soldiers under President Obama’s administration alone were discharged under Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.

Advocacy by organizations such as the SLDN, the Service Members Legal Defense Network, have showing the inconsistent and unconstitutional enforcement of this law.

Don’t Ask Don’t Tell asks that serving gay and lesbian soldiers hide and keep private their sexual orientation under the protection and promise that the government will not ask them to tell or disclose their sexuality. SLDN’s advocacy proves that these soldiers are being searched, superiors are going through their emails and private belongings, calling family members and operating based on assumptions.  Ultimately the law is being enforced using gay profiling.

And gay soldiers have become targets.

In short, not only is the law unconstitutional, it’s not being properly or fairly enforced by the government.  Our fight is a continuum of the ever-present equal rights movement.  Every day we fight to abolish laws that harbour hatred and discrimination. Against all people.  Laws that infringe on our civil liberties. Unfair laws that, like Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, were put in place to eliminate friction and violence but in the end, only delay the process of ending this most serious prejudice.

I am here to be a voice for my generation, not the generation of the senators that are voting, but the youth of our country, the generation that is affected by this law, and whose children will be affected.

We are not asking you to agree with or approve the moral implications of homosexuality, we’re asking you to do your job, to protect the constitution.  As majority leader Harry Reid said, anyone who is willing to fight for this country should have the same civil opportunities to do so as anyone else.  It is my believe that no one person is more valuable than another.

Air Force Major Mike Almy was discharged under Don’t Ask Don’t Tell while serving 6 years in Iraq and a total of 13 years in the air force.

I spent some time with him recently talking about his story with other soldiers.  He said to me “During my time in the air force, when I fought for my country, I never identified myself as anything other than a soldier.”

Just like you, Senator McCain, a distinguished veteran who loves his country, Mike would have done anything during his time of duty to protect America.

Sergeant First Class Army Stacey Vasquez, after 12 years of service, was outed by the wife of a cadet to whom she gave negative reports  based on his bad performance in the unit.  West Point Cadet Katie Miller opted to leave West Point Academy because she felt pressured to mask her identity in school  The most shocking discovery for me was to hear them all say how much they missed serving and protecting our nation, how they joined the armed forces because they believe in America.

Senators, when you’re sending our men and women into war,  when you’re sending our wives, husbands, sons and daughters into combat, will you honour their service?

Will you support repealing this law on Tuesday, and pledge to them that no American’s life is more valuable than another?

For those watching that would like to reach out to their senators and ask for their vote to repeat Don’t Ask Don’t Tell you can log onto www.sldn.org/gaga or you can call 202-224-3121, like I’m going to do right now.

[Ringing] Hi can I please be transferred to Chuck Shumer’s office? [More ringing.  It rings and rings and rings for maybe two minutes while Lady Gaga waits.]

[Busy Signal]

[Lady Gaga hits redial?]

Recorded Voice: Your call has been forwarded to an Automated Voice Message system.  The mail box belonging to Senator [indiscernible]’s office is full.  Good-bye.

Lady Gaga: I have called both of the senators that operate in my district.  I will not stop calling until I reach them and I can leave them this message.

I am a constituent of the senator, My name is Stefanie Joanne Angelina Germinotta, also known as Lady Gaga.

I am calling to ask the Senator to vote with Senators Harry Reid and Carl Levin to repeal Don’t Ask Don’t Tell and oppose John McCain’s shameless filibuster. We need to do this, for our Gay and Lesbian soldiers, and finally repeal, Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.

Try calling after 9 a.m. tomorrow morning.  I’ll be on the phone too.  Thank you. God Bless.

PS: Levin is from Michigan, and he rawks. I emailed Stupak this past week about DADT, despite his other less favorable qualities, he is in favor of this repeal. Good for him.

Who DADT is Really Hurting: A Signal Boost

a piece of barbed wire against a blurry green background, with small, thin strands of fine spider webbing holding on to the prongs.Every weekday leading up to the launch of the Defense Authorization Bill the Servicmembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN) is running a new media campaign called “Letters from the Frontlines: Letters to President Obama“, which is a collection of open letters from actual servicemembers and their family membes who are affected by the horrendously awful DADT policy. Gay Rights Blogger Michael A. Jones from Change.org is running them, and I would like to share a recent collection of them, some of which I have shared at my Tumblr.

Also, the Senate Armed Services Committee happens to be chaired by my Rock the Casbah senator, Karl Levin. You can find the info for that committee here, if you are so inclined.

Discharged Under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” … Twice

I was ousted from the service I loved, facing a recoupment of $13,000 sign-on bonus I received, and ushered to the gate. I felt shunned, broken and confused.

After a year of recovery, I received a letter recalling me back to service. While I didn’t understand why, I had an overwhelming sense of joy to return to the service I so loved.

I was sent to Kuwait for a year with the U.S. Navy Customs Battalion Romeo in 2006 where I continued to garner accolades for my service and even upped in rank, all while serving completely open. My immediate commanders and colleges were aware that I had been discharged once under DADT and knew that I was gay, yet they supported me because I was a great sailor.

The Humiliation of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”

The Staff Judge Advocate (SJA) on base, acting without authority, continued her own investigation and convinced the ranking Admiral that regulations mandated that he move to administratively separate me with an “Other Than Honorable” discharge; a move that would result in the loss of my 20+ year retirement.

Acting without the proper authority, she even went over the Admiral’s head and appealed to the Navy’s personnel office, telling them I was taking “sexual liberties” with patients, which she knew was not true.

I wanted to serve my country. Now, I was fighting to not be humiliated by it. At the SJA’s encouragement, the command initiated discharge proceedings. I knew I’d be discharged but my retirement and my livelihood was also on the line.

Gay Troops are Fit For Military Duty

But everything changed a few months later. A cadet went to my commanders and told them I was gay and dating a fellow cadet. During the investigation that followed I made no comment to the JAG officer conducting the investigation. I was eventually called into my commander’s office and disenrolled from ROTC in August 2002. I received a piece of paper saying I was no longer fit for military duty due to “homosexual conduct.” You can’t even imagine how that feels. Almost 8 years later, I still remember wearing my flight suit for the last time and handing my ID card to the NCO who was trying not to cry.

A Letter From a Gay Soldier in a War Zone

Mr. President, my unit is extremely undermanned. We’re working around the clock in Baghdad. My commander informed me that the Army cannot afford to lose me. I was told that they would prepare my discharge paperwork, “stick it in a Manila envelope, and keep it in a desk — for now.”

One moment they wanted to throw me out and the next they are hiding evidence to keep me in.

My comrades now know that I am gay, and they do not treat me any differently. Work runs as smoothly as ever, and frankly the only difference I see — besides my pending job loss — is that I am free of the burden of having to constantly watch my words and ensure my lies are believable.

Losing Some of Our Best Soldiers to “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”

Eventually, the stress of constant fear that I could lose my job no matter how hard I worked or how well I performed, became too much. I knew from the stories of others that even serving to the very best of my ability could cost me my job. I knew that an anonymous tip — by someone who was jealous of my success, angry with me because of a disagreement, or mad because I rebuffed a sexual advance — could trigger a demoralizing, demeaning investigation under DADT. And if I was not willing to lie, I knew an investigation could lead to my discharge.

I was lucky, though. I did not get kicked out, but that does not mean that DADT didn’t affect me. The uncertainty and fear of knowing that anyone with a grudge could end my career, and the sadness in realizing that at any time my country could callously discard me for no other reason than the fact that I was gay, pressured me to give up the career I loved. I chose not to reenlist.

A Mother’s Dream For Her Gay Son in the Military

“Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” throws more than just service people into the closet; it throws moms, dads, siblings, grandparents, godparents, friends and loved ones in there as well.

As a mom, my heart breaks for all the gay and lesbian “kids” in the military, and for all the special people in their lives who live with us in the closet.

I dream of actually being able to write to the President, my senators and representatives in the Congress, and actually signing my name, something I can’t do now due to the risk of outing my son.

Serving in Iraq an an Openly Gay Soldier (trigger warning for ableist language)

After an investigation into my statements and the harassment, I was told I was an exceptional Soldier and to “drive on” with my work. It was a great a relief to break the silence. My colleagues suddenly understood why I had always been so detached and began asking me to join them in activities outside of work.

Later that year my division deployed again and I served the entirety of the deployment as an openly gay Soldier. I no longer had to lie if someone asked if I were married or had a girlfriend, I didn’t have to write my emails in “code.” I no longer feared being “outed.” I finally was able to be honest.

A Lesbian ROTC Cadet, Denied the Chance to Serve

As much as I longed to be an officer, I realized I was not willing to compromise my integrity to do so.

Mr. President, I tell you this not looking for sympathy but rather to plead with you to do everything possible to end this arcane, discriminatory law. It hurts our military every day to force our men and women in uniform to lie or else face discharge.

You gave me hope that I might be able to serve honestly and openly in your State of the Union Address. If you repeal this law today, I’ll sign up to serve my country tomorrow.

Photo: jonycunha

Let’s Talk About Lt. Dan Choi…

…because it seems like we need to.

I am relieved and appalled to see this getting picked up by feminist sites. Really. And I know that I am not important or a big enough voice for anyone to be all “hey, I think that blogger who babbles over there and who yaps ’bout military things over at Change.org might know a thing or two about this”, but it might be nice if feminist bloggers thought outside their circle of each other once in a while… I am not the only voice out there with this kind of wisdom who could aid them if they insist on talking “about” the military, instead of “with”.

But we’ve been there before, so let’s move on.

So, I’m reading “Organized Effort or Publicity Stunt”, and my eyebrows almost fell off of my head because of my eyes rolling so hard.

And the discussion going on over at Change.org’s Gay Rights blog revealed to me that some people don’t understand how discharges work.

When one is honorably discharged from the military one is still authorized to wear the uniform and be addressed by the rank/pay grade they held at the time of their discharge. Retired personnel also. I have a friend whose father is a retired Lt. Col. and I call him Colonel (b/c it is customary to drop the “Lt.” at times, just as there are times when you can also drop the “Senior” or “Master” from Sr. or Master Chief in some informal situations), both to his chagrin and amusement. It’s the prior enlisted in me. I still answer to “Petty Officer”, and there are places where we run into people who still call me that. So, Lt. Choi, while not still in the Army, is still Lt. Choi, and can still wear that uniform. Proudly, even, I would say.

There are several other things I want to say here, and now, for the first time, now that he has crossed a new line, I no longer feel safe saying so, knowing that my identity is out there for you all to find, and that my status as a U.S. Veteran and as a military spouse of an active duty member might actually prevent me from stating some things at this time. I have to protect myself and my husband here under some codes of conduct that might technically still apply to me. There are things I can say and write because being a veteran is a lot more free than being active duty, but this is a grey area of which I am no longer sure. My career and my life intersect in a funny place now.

What I can say though, is that in response to thoughts like “is this just a publicity stunt” is that someone who would do something like appear at a civil disturbance and chain themselves to the White House fence in their uniform, knowing full well what the UCMJ expects of people wearing uniforms, is not just doing this for attention. You do not go running into that situation without thinking that through. Dan Choi has crossed from That Officer Who Was Discharged Under DADT to That Officer Who Went to a Demonstration in His Uniform. He could possibly be brought up on charges under an Article 92.

He really put his neck on the line for his cause today. If it was just for publicity, well, it worked, but it also won’t do him much good, because putting yourself out there like that, in your uniform, is going to get you in a world of trouble.

So, Samhita asks “does it just make him lose credibility?”, and I have to say, no, it doesn’t.

It gives Choi, and let’s not forget the Army Captain, Capt. James Pietrangelo, creedence.

According to AMERICAblog, they are being held and charged with “failure to follow a lawful order” (which makes sense under Article 92). They knew this would happen. Just as they were trained to put their lives on the line for their country they have come here to the front line to put their lives on the line for this war, the war on their own lives.

The real publicity stunt is people who are neither gay nor in the military standing up and staging rallies and then acting surprised when actual gay servicemembers show up. The ones who are unwilling to support actual gay servicemembers who are doing exactly what their military training has taught them to do, and who are ready to pay the price that their military training told them they would pay. Battle strategy tells you that “Hope” isn’t a strategy. You have to go in and do something.

But, people would know this if they tried talking to and working with military people who are involved in these issues rather than just talking about them or working for them. It’s great that everyone cares and all, but the military is another subculture that has rules of its own.

You usually buy a book or consult a travel guide when you visit another country. You might try ours.

One more thought: People keep dropping the “T” from “LGBT” when talking about DADT. If you think that the “T” doesn’t apply to the military, if you honestly think that there are no people falling into the T who are serving in the military right now, well you enjoy that ignorance you are living in. I promise you there are people already T and in. It’s not like we make them wear a sign, because there is no obvious marker that screams “this person is T or otherwise outside your binary!”.

If I have somehow used problematic language there, please feel free to (politely) help me out here.

Planning Ahead

Something that has been tumbling around in my head is the issue of repealing DADTObviously.

Repealing the legislation isn’t enough.  There is still the matter of dealing with the UCMJ.  The Uniform Code of Military Justice.  The UCMJ is what the Military uses to maintain its own law and order, if you will excuse the term.  The UCMJ has some very specific things to say about so-called “homosexual acts”, as some would call it, in Article 125.

(a) Any person subject to this chapter who engages in unnatural carnal copulation with another person of the same or opposite sex or with an animal is guilty of sodomy. Penetration, however slight, is sufficient
to complete the offense.

(b) Any person found guilty of sodomy shall by punished as a court-martial may direct.”

Elements.

(1) That the accused engaged in unnatural carnal copulation with a certain other person or with an animal. (Note: Add either or both of the following elements, if applicable)

(2) That the act was done with a child under the age of 16.

(3) That the act was done by force and without the consent of the other person.

Explanation.

It is unnatural carnal copulation for a person to take into that person’s mouth or anus the sexual organ of another person or of an animal; or to place that person’s sexual organ in the mouth or anus of another person or of an animal; or to have carnal copulation in any opening of the body, except the sexual parts, with another person; or to have carnal copulation with an animal.

If DADT is repealed, without Congress changing the UCMJ there is still the chance that all of these people who are now allowed to be free and open about themselves could still be punished under Article 125.  So, it comes as a great relief to find this in the Stars and Stripes online today:

A panel of legal scholars has suggested that Congress remove sodomy as a crime punishable under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, a recommendation that could boost efforts to end a ban on gays serving openly in the U.S. military.

The Commission on Military Justice recommended that Article 125, which deals with sodomy, be repealed, arguing that “most acts of consensual sodomy committed by consenting military personnel are not prosecuted, creating a perception that prosecution of this sexual behavior is arbitrary.”

I mean, yay!  Someone is thinking ahead on this.  It isn’t often that I have witnessed the Military being proactive rather than reactive to something (if you can call it this).

Plenty of heterosexual couples have violated this, let me assure you.  I would be interested to see the stats that back up the claim that the majority of people discharged under Article 125 are straight.

Since I first found this article on the Free Republic (OH MY EYES!), I am sure that Conservajerks are going to be all over this one.  So let’s address something, shall we?

OpponentsZOMG!  If we repeal Article 125 then the Military will think it is OK to have sex with children!!1!

Fact: 1) You can not have sex with children.  Children can not give consent.  The correct term for that is rape.  2) Raping children would still be illegal under UCMJ Article 120, which covers and defines, say it with me now, rape.

Now, I have a few issues with Article 120 all on its own.  It deserves to be addressed, but it covers the child rape issue pretty clearly.  Any person who has not attained the age of sixteen years.  Pretty clear.  It is already illegal to rape children.  So, saying that we need Article 125 to prevent this is pretty much intentionally obtuse.

OpponentsZOMG!  If Article 125 is repealed, then the rape in the Military problem will get worse, because it will be harder to punish!!1!ELEVENTY!

Fact:  Ummm.  No.  Again, Article 120 already covers this.  Rape is already illegal, and the Military is already taking massive steps to prove that it takes rape and sexual assault seriously, with more training than you can shake a stick at.  Also, there is a little thing that the UCMJ has called Article 134, otherwise known as the “catch all” clause, meaning if they don’t think they can bust your ass with something else, they sure as hell are going to get you with this one.

So, we can put to rest the thought that Article 125 is so badly needed that we can’t repeal it.  In order to make the repealing of DADT, to allow service members to serve out and open freely, without fear of being hurt, abused, or otherwise hazed in their working environments, often leading to suicide or physical and mental illness, often left untreated because the service member is discharged without benefits .  It needs to go (and, let’s be honest, it needed to go, like, 100 years ago.  Really.) and the sooner the better.

Now, who do we talk to about getting this done?

Support H.R. 1283

Via Pizza Diavola:

Today, Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) sent out an email asking her constituents to express support for her three amendments to the defense authorization bill:

Dear [PD],

As Americans, we are so lucky to live in a free country, defended by the brave men and women of our armed forces. We owe them our gratitude, respect, and support for sacrificing so much for us.

That’s why I’ve just introduced new legislation in the Senate that will ease the burden on our military families. My three amendments are being considered, right now, during this week’s debate on the defense authorization bill — and I need your help. …

  • Give families with two parents on active duty the option to stagger their overseas combat deployments — so one parent can stay home as the primary caregiver for their children. In addition, after one parent returns, provide a 90-day re-integration period before the other parent is deployed. This amendment is supported by the National Military Family Association.
  • Reimburse military families who have to travel more than 50 miles from home in order to receive medical care — down from the current 100-mile requirement. This amendment is supported by the Military Coalition.

Provide flexible spending accounts for all uniformed service personnel — so military families receive tax breaks for spending on medical expenses and child care. This amendment is supported by the VFW, National Military Family Association, Military Officers Association of America, and other organizations.These amendments are the right thing to do for our servicemembers and their families. They do so much to protect us — now it’s time for us to stand up for them.

As you all may be aware this is something that I support fully, along with pretty much all of H.R. 1283.  The Servicemembers Legal Defense Fund has a list where you can find the contact information for your Congressperson, and I hope you will do so.  There is also a list of those already co-sponsoring this bill. (more…)

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