USA: Air Force Veteran Fired Under DADT Named As Inauguration Citizen Co-Chair
Former Air Force SSgt. David Hall, who was discharged under DADT, has been named a Citizen Co-Chair of President Obama’s second inauguration celebration. Via press release from OutServe-SLDN, where Hall is now a staffer:
“This is certainly the honor of a lifetime, and I am grateful to President Obama for his leadership in repealing ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ so that no qualified American who wants to serve this country in uniform will ever again be denied that right simply because they are gay or lesbian,” said Hall. Hall will join the seven others named today in the National Day of Service on Saturday that kicks off the inaugural events over the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend. He will attend the swearing-in ceremony Monday and along with the other co-chairs will ride on an inaugural parade float highlighting the inaugural theme of “Our People: Our Future.” Monday evening, he will attend the official inaugural balls.
Hall served in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait before his discharge.
USA: First Same-Sex Marriage Proposal In The White House
Active duty U.S. Marine Corps captain Matthew Phelps made history over the weekend by proposing to his partner Ben Schock inside the White House. “Such a special night surrounded by wonderful people in an amazing place, and the best is still yet to come,” Phelps wrote on his Facebook page. “Thanks for all the wonderful greetings and messages, and thanks to Barack Obama and Michelle Obama for lending us your home for the occasion!” After a photo of the historic proposal was shared by the American Military Partner Association, it was subsequently picked up and shared by many across multiple social networks. “Ben and I are blown away by the amazing love and support we have received,” Phelps wrote in a follow-up post. “Thank you all so much for sharing in our joy and our lives.”
GOP’s Vice-Presidential Nominee Paul Ryan Says Reversing DADT Repeal Would Be “Step In The Wrong Direction”
The Huffington Post reports:
GOP vice-presidential nominee Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said that the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy should not be reinstated in aninterview with West Palm Beach NBC affiliate WPTV that aired on Sunday. Ryan voted in 2010 — along with most Republicans and several Democrats — against the repeal of the policy that prohibited gays and lesbians from serving openly in the military. “I talked to a lot of good friends of mine who are combat leaders in the theater, and they just didn’t think the timing of this was right to do this when our troops were in the middle of harm’s way in combat,” said Ryan. “Now that it’s done, we should not reverse it. I think that would be a step in the wrong direction because people have already disclosed themselves.” “I think this issue is past us. It’s done. And I think we need to move on,” he said. Romney in December 2011 articulated a similar position. “That’s already occurred. I’m not planning on reversing that at this stage,” he told theDes Moines Registereditorial board. “I was not comfortable making the change during a period of conflict, due to the complicating features of a new program in the middle of two wars going on, but those wars are winding down, and moving in that direction at this stage no longer presents that problem.”
A study by the Palm Center, a research institute devoted to studying the impact of sexual minorities on the military,found no negative consequenceson military readiness, unit cohesion, recruitment, retention or morale one year after the policy was repealed.
President Obama On “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” Anniversary
Via press release from the White House:
A year ago today, we upheld the fundamental American values of fairness and equality by finally and formally repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” Gay and lesbian Americans now no longer need to hide who they love in order to serve the country they love. It is a testament to the professionalism of our men and women in uniform that this change was implemented in an orderly manner, preserving unit cohesion, recruitment, retention and military effectiveness. As Commander in Chief, I’ve seen that our national security has been strengthened because we are no longer denied the skills and talents of those patriotic Americans who happen to be gay or lesbian. The ability of service members to be open and honest about their families and the people they love honors the integrity of the individuals who serve, strengthens the institutions they serve, and is one of the many reasons why our military remains the finest in the world.
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said Wednesday that she believes the Defense of Marriage Act will likely go to the U.S. Supreme Court within the next year. Ginsburg spoke at the University of Colorado in Boulder. She was asked a student-submitted question about the equal-protection clause and whether the nation’s high court would consider it applying to sexual orientation. Ginsburg said with a smile that she couldn’t answer the question. She said she could not talk about matters that would come to the court, and that the Defense of Marriage Act would probably be up soon. “I think it’s most likely that we will have that issue before the court toward the end of the current term,” she said. The 1996 law has been declared unconstitutional by a federal judge in New York and is awaiting arguments before the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Those oral arguments are scheduled for Sept. 27. The law was passed by Congress and signed by President Bill Clinton after the Hawaii Supreme Court issued a ruling in 1993 making it appear Hawaii might legalize gay marriage. Since then, many states have banned gay marriage, while eight states have approved it, led by Massachusetts in 2004 and continuing with Connecticut, New York, Iowa, New Hampshire, Vermont, Maryland and Washington state. Maryland and Washington’s laws aren’t yet in effect and might be subject to referendums. In February 2011, President Barack Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder instructed the Department of Justice to no longer defend the Defense of Marriage Act. Ginsburg’s remarks came at a conference sponsored by the University of Colorado law school. Ginsburg talked mostly about entering the legal profession when there were few female lawyers and even fewer judges. The students roared with laughter when Ginsburg told of scrambling even to find a women’s restroom in law school at Columbia University in the 1950s. “We never complained, that’s just the way it was,” she said to laughter from the students.
GOP Rep. Jim Jordan Supports Reinstating DADT If Romney Wins In November
Via Think Progress reports:
A leading House Republican wants to re-instate the military’s former ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ policy if his party takes control in November. In an interview with ThinkProgress at the Values Voters Summit on Friday, Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) said he “certainly” supports “going back to the previous policy” of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. He left open the possibility that those service-members who have already come out of the closet, likeBrig. General Tammy Smith, would be discharged from the military if Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell is reinstated.KEYES:Is [Don’t Ask Don’t Tell] something that you think the GOP will pursue reinstating starting in 2013 if they take control?JORDAN: I wasn’t for making the change that was made last few years ago in the lame duck session. I was certainly opposed to that, the change that the Obama administration made. We’ll look at guidance from our military,but I’m certainly supportive of going back to the previous policy.KEYES: What about those service-members who have already announced their sexual orientation? Are they going to get kicked out?JORDAN: That’s a military question. I’d have to think about how that would work in practice.Watch it: Though first elected in 2006, Jordan is no back-bencher. He chairs the conservativeRepublican Study Committee, a group of more than 160 Republican congressmen dedicated to pushing conservative causes that wields major influence within the GOP caucus.If Jordan were to ask the military about reinstating DADT as he suggests, he would learn that the Pentagonbelievesthat last year’s repeal was actually beneficial for unit morale, and that none of the concerns expressed by opponents of the decision have come to fruition. In addition, there wasconsiderable supportfor lifting the ban on openly gay and lesbian people serving in the military from the heads of three of the four branches of the military even before DADT was repealed.
Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee Rep. Buck McKeon (R-CA) haspreviously indicatedthat he would not like to see Republicans bring up Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, but his opposition may not be enough to stop Jordan and the Republican Study Committee from reinstating the policy if the GOP prevails in November.
USA: GOP Introduces Senate Bill To Ban Same-Sex Weddings On Military Bases
Two GOP Senators yesterday introduced a bill than would ban military bases from hosting same-sex weddings.
U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe hasn’t given up his resistance to the acceptance of gays and lesbians in the military or same-sex marriage. On Tuesday, Inhofe and fellow Republican Roger Wicker of Mississippi introduced a measure that would ban same-sex marriages on military bases and protect military chaplains from “pressure” to perform such ceremonies. The two senators described the Military Religious Freedom Act as an effort to enforce the Defense of Marriage Act, known as DOMA, on the Defense Department in the wake of the December 2010 repeal of the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, which ended the official ban on gay men and lesbians serving openly in the military. “President Obama and his administration are dismissing their responsibility to uphold the law of the land by unilaterally deeming DOMA unworthy of enforcement,” Inhofe said.
Military chaplains, of course, are already completely free to refuse to perform any ceremony for any reason.
USA: Honoring America’s Vets Act Signed By President Obama, Banning Westboro Baptist Cult Funeral Protests
The Huffington Post reports:
President Barack Obama signed the Honoring America’s Veterans and Caring for Camp Lejeune Families Act of 2012 into law on Monday, providing a wide-ranging package of benefits to military personnel and enacting new restrictions on protests of service member funerals. “We have a moral sacred duty to our men and women in uniform,” Obama said before signing the bill, according to a pool report. “The graves of our veterans are hallowed grounds.” The new law will have strong implications for the Westboro Baptist Church, a Kansas-based organization which the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Anti-Defamation League have labeled a hate group. Westboro Baptist Church has drawn media attention for its brand of protest, which frequently links the deaths of soldiers to America’s growing acceptance of gays. Under the new legislation, protests must be held at least 300 feet from military funerals and are prohibited two hours before or after a service. The law counters a2011 Supreme Court ruling, which found that displays such as Westboro’s were protected under the First Amendment. Members of the church responded defiantly to a Huffington Post report following Congress’ passage of the bill, claiming that the law’s restrictions could also have an effect on counter-demonstrations organized in response to Westboro’s attempts to disrupt military services. Two of these counter-efforts drew national attention last month, when large groups of people turned out in both Missouri and in Texas in an attempt to create “human walls” to shield attendees of military funerals from Westboro’s demonstrations. In an interview over the weekend, Westboro spokesman Steven Drain told CNN that the new law was “not going to change our plans at all.” According to the Army Times, future violations of The Honoring America’s Veterans Act would include the possibility of $50,000 in statutory damages. For more on The Honoring America’s Veterans and Caring for Camp Lejeune Families Act of 2012, click here.
CALIFORNIA: Military Members Make First Ever Gay Pride Appearance In Full Uniform In San Diego
For the first time since the repeal of DADT, today in San Diego members of the military marched in a gay pride parade in full uniform. Earlier this week the Pentagon, which typically does not allow uniformed personnel to march in civilian events, said that it was making a one-time exceptionfor San Diego Pride.
The loudest cheers from the parade crowd of nearly 200,000 were reserved for them. The U.S. military contingent included about 40 members — some active, some retired. As they assembled in the staging area, countless spectators took pictures of and with them. Most of the active-duty personnel said they were under orders not to give interviews although photos were fine. Sean Sala, 27, who left the Navy last year but helped organize the military group, said the significance of this year’s active-duty uniformed participants is bolstered by government approval for the first time. “I think everybody wants to make it a gay thing, but it’s just an American thing,” he said. “These are people that have laid down their lives for their country, you know, and they deserve recognition for their service regardless of their sexuality.”
Last summer, gays in the military dared not admit their sexual orientation. This summer, the Pentagon will salute them, marking gay pride month just as it marks other celebrations honoring racial or ethnic groups.
Officials said Thursday that they’re planning the first-ever event to recognize gay and lesbian troops. They declined to give details about what the event will be, but officials said Defense Secretary Leon Panetta feels it’s important to recognize the service of gays in the armed forces.
June is gay pride month in the U.S. This is the first time the Pentagon could participate, since September’s repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell.” Under the 1993 law, troops were kicked out for talking about their sexual orientation and more than 13,000 lost their jobs.
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