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View Article  Post-Gazette on repeal of DADT

A nice editorial in the PG on the unacceptable plan to roll out the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell "slowly."

Delay will only foster uncertainty and resentment. Theoretically, gay servicemen and -women could still be dismissed under the old law while the new one is pending. The sooner this is completed, the better for everyone.

Excellent point.  Equality rolls along at such a slow pace, far more slowly than public opinion.  I recently joined a group made up of people I don't know.  I wasted no time talking about Ledcat in the same way the others discussed their spouses.  Not a peep of dissent or a rolling of the eye.  In fact, people comment on our relationship as an example of doing things right.  It is out of context here, but the example goes to show that most people embrace or don't care. 

Wake up, military leaders.  Welcome to 2011.

View Article  PG Letters to the Editor on LGBTQ Equality

Folks, it is a good time to get your fingers stretched and send in your own letters.  Politicians pay attention to people contacting them personally, but they also watch the opinion sections of the media.  If you need an angle, consider writing in about Chick Fil A if you are a customer.  Talk with the franchise owner of the restaurant you visit and ask them point blank if they would support an organization like the Pennsylvania Family Institute.  Then write a letter.  Very simple, but imagine how many people you can educate.

Two letters today ....

Daniel Robinson of Tarentum writes a pretty incoherent letter that seems to say he doesn't hate gay people, but his hands are tied because God told him being gay is wrong.

Hate isn't the emotion guiding people who take God serious, love is. What people do with their lives is between them and God. Likewise, those who place their faith in the Creator who endowed us with our rights, can't be asked to ignore His definitions of "right and wrong."

It is sort of a live and let live, but my side is really right approach to writing letters.  Or living life.  Or judging.  It also shows that people are making decisions about our equality based on some sketchy reasoning.  Do you want Daniel voting on your equality (no matter who you are)?

Major Gregorio Sheehan (Ret) is more blunt about the repeal of DADT

The result will be that conservative Christian men, the backbone of American combat units, will think twice before enlisting or re-enlisting, the thought of sharing a foxhole with a homosexual being repellent to their senses.

Well, I didn't know conservative Christian men were the backbone of combat units. Is that based on anything more than his subjective perspective?  Like the Pentagon survey?  Hmmm.

Regardless,  Daniel and Gregorio took the time to write and I'm sure they had an impact in some households, an impact that doesn't serve our community well. 

When can we expect to read your letter?

View Article  Pat Buchanan on DADT repeal

The Tribune Review does not disappoint with this op/ed piece from Pat Buchanan.  Here's a sample ...

A Democrat Congress, discharged by the voters on Nov. 2, has as one of its last official acts imposed its San Francisco values on the armed forces of the United States.

"Don't ask, don't tell" is to be repealed. Open homosexuals are to be welcomed in all branches of the armed services.

Let us hope this works out better for the Marine Corps than it did for the Catholic Church.

That's the best line.  I cringed for the good Catholics I know everywhere.  The rest of the piece his the usual low notes.  Sheesh.


View Article  The repeal of DADT

I have to make some sort of comment on this historic day.  Today, the Senate voted to approve a stand alone bill that repeals the Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy.  President Obama has promised to sign this week. 

This is a significant piece of civil and equal rights advancement for the LGBTQ community.  Ledcat says that the importance lies in the military culture which is more conservative than the general population.  The integration of openly LGBTQ persons into the military is a big stepping off point for the attainment of other civil rights.  It is a significant litmus test for continuing culture shifts. 

She wrote a paper in law school on this very topic in 1990 so it is also the fulfillment of something she has followed for years. 

I don't profess to know how LGBTQ military feel tonight.  I have had contact with advocates and activists who have been shedding tears.  And I've been pondering what to say myself.  There's a lot to be said.  Thanks to those who drove this, appreciation for individuals like Senator Webb from VA who opened their minds and changed their votes, thanks for the strengthening of our defense and the safety of my brothers and sisters in the military.

There are political lessons that strike close to home - Pat Toomey's support of repeal, WV Senator Manchin's lack of support. 

There's a lot to understand, my friends.  Gay folks can't come out tomorrow.  It has to be signed into law and an implementation timeframe identified.  There will be backlash. Complications will emerge regarding spousal benefits and so forth. 

But, it is a good night to be gay in America.

View Article  One Step Forward, Two Steps Back: Another Positive Court Ruling on DADT

From the Washington Post courtesy of the Post-Gazette.

A federal judge on Friday ordered the reinstatement of an Air Force nurse discharged from the military under the "don't ask, don't tell" policy that forbids openly gay service members.

U.S. District Judge Ronald Leighton told a packed Tacoma, Wash., courtroom that evidence at a six-day trial showed that former Air Force Reserve Maj. Margaret Witt was an "exemplary officer" who should be "reinstated at the earliest possible moment."

"Good flight nurses are hard to find," he said in a 15-page opinion.

In a statement, Ms. Witt said she was proud of her career. "Wounded people never asked me about my sexual orientation. They were just glad to see me there," she said.

Ms. Witt was represented by the American Civil Liberties Union, which said the ruling was the first time that a judge had ordered a reinstatement of a service member discharged under "don't ask, don't tell."

Judge Leighton had dismissed Ms. Witt's first challenge to her 2006 dismissal. But the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals told him to reconsider under a standard of review that put the burden on the military to show why Ms. Witt's discharge was necessary to the government's interest. In effect, the appeals court ruling said judges should be examining the military's decision to discharge individual service members -- not whether the law itself was justified.

"The evidence produced at trial overwhelmingly supports the conclusion that the suspension and discharge of Margaret Witt did not significantly further the important government interest in advancing unit morale and cohesion," Judge Leighton concluded.

The erosion of DADT may come case by case as discharged military seek redress through the Courts and the military is unable to meet this criteria of "furthering government interest".

The same government which refused to debate this on the Senate Floor can't make a substantial court case to show why this policy is necessary.  The Republicans use rhetoric of fear, hatred and intolerance to rally their base and the Democrats expect their progressive base aka "us" to be content with the drip drip drip approach. 

Do we really expect the ACLU to take up every discharge case?  Does that mean our campaign contributions are better invested in judicial races and legal organizations than advocacy groups?  I mean that ACLU is accomplishing something.

A few more injured members of our military will receive top notch nursing care when the best and brightest are rightfully restored to "our" armed services.


View Article  Lady Gaga addresses the crowd at the #4the14k Rally in Portland, Maine

Photo Credit: Terry Richardson

View Article  DADT Repeal Vote Looms

The PG has it here.

The Senate on Thursday approved a multibillion-dollar package of tax breaks and government-backed loans for small businesses, as Democrats sought to use the muscle of their majorities to pursue a congressional agenda that would make their case for retaining House and Senate control this fall.

After surmounting months of Republican opposition to approve the small-business measure and send it to the House, Democrats -- over sharp GOP objections -- set up a floor showdown for next week over a Pentagon policy bill that touches on the politically charged issues of immigration and gay men, lesbians and bisexuals in the military.

The repeal.  It cometh. Your activism is still critically important. Make no bones about it.  This about intentionally bringing about systemic change in our political system as well as the military culture. It is important albeit really, really late in the game. 

The challenge for our elected Dems is to realize that LGBTQ activists are able to acknowledge progress, but continue to call for accountability and follow through on their promises to create a more equal and just society. I experienced this when Dan Onorato supporters were outraged that I did not consider his work on the Allegheny County Anti-Discrimination Ordinance substantial enough to warrant the term "ally."  It came down to arguing about what happened behind the scenes with the LGBTQ political elite, or basically he-said/she-said.  How is that actual progress? 

Then there's the fact that criticism is just not "appropriate" in what passes for liberal Democratic circles.  You can't critique the President, the candidates or the party.  I must point out that it remains perfectly acceptable for anyone to critique State Senator Jane Orie's appearance, I mean politics.  That's fine. 

Don't rock the boat.  You might tip over and force a gay Marine to save you. 




View Article  Pentagon Response to DADT "survey"

LezGetReal.com has something up on the Pentagon pushing back on the LGBT community's outcry over the ridiculous survey the Pentagon has mailed to 400,000 members of the military. 

Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell said about the stories that have resulted from the leak of the 103-question survey that many ?have been inflammatory in the worst case, and misleading in the best.?  The survey was suppose to remain confidential, but the distribution of the survey to the 400,000 active duty and reserve military personnel ended up without that being achieved.

Morrell stated that ?Outside influence is not helpful to the process.?  Of course, given that several groups outside the process have already tried to influence the process by pushing the statements of retired chaplains out in order to try and stop the repeal, and that there was no punishment for a general who decided to issue an op-ed trying to preserve the policy, it is hard to believe that the outside influence was not going to occur anyway.

?We thought it would be breaking the faith with them for us to be proactively sharing the survey because what we are trying to do is preserve the credibility and integrity of the answers that it elicits from the force.?

?The survey is designed to get the attitudes of the force on how to proceed if Congress repeals the so-called ?Don?t Ask, Don?t Tell? law, and is not a referendum on whether or not the law should be repealed.  The answers will inform the working group?s deliberations,? Morrell stated.  The LGBT Community has been very leery of the commitment to repealing DADT.  Right now, repeal rests on the shoulders of Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Michael Mullen, Defense Secretary Robert Gates, and President Barack Obama and not Congress since an interim repeal is in the Defense budget for this year.

Morrell misses much of the reason behind the uproar when he states ?Pentagon officials worked with a professional and reputable polling firm to produce the survey.  Roughly the first third of the 103 questions seeks demographic information.  The second third asks about professional and military experience.  The third asks how the law?s repeal might affect the individual being surveyed.?  Part of the problem is the wording.  The more clinical word ?homosexual? tends to elicit a more negative reaction than ?lesbian or gay? does.

Confidential? No outside influence? No torture took place?  Ooops.

Let us remember that no such survey took place when the armed forced were integrated or when women began assuming combat roles.  They figured it out without using inflammatory rhetoric to stir up bias, bigotry and fear.

The military really sucks. This is yet another farcical move in the long line of delays and pandering to homophobes who don't want the repeal. 

It is really hard to determine what is making my head spin more this morning, Pennsylvana politics or national politics.

View Article  Pentagon survey on DADT panders to fears

What a joke.  The Pentagon survey sent to nearly half a million members of the military plays right into fears that the troops will be forced to encounter homosexuals in the shower. 


The Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, a nonpartisan legal services group providing counsel to troops discharged under the policy, said the survey's design could yield skewed results.

"Surveying the troops is unprecedented; it did not happen in 1948, when President Truman ended segregation, and it did not happen in 1976, when the service academies opened to women," network director Aubrey Sarvis said. "Even when the military placed women on ships at sea, the Pentagon did not turn to a survey on how to bring about that cultural change."

Skewed. Ha. What a waste of our taxpayer monies.


View Article  DADT repeal - the votes

Just an FYI on how the Pennsylvania House delegation voted on the potential repeal of DADT.  Aye is good, No is not.

I've already discussed the non-surprising NO vote of Critz who has repeatedly told us he is not a liberal.  Another D who voted against the repeal is District 10's Christopher Carney from Northeastern pA. 

I urge you to drop a line to our Western PA allies, thanking them for their support.

Jason Altmire

Kathy Dahlkemper

Mike Doyle

Our parents taught us that a simple thank you is so important for positive relationships. The same holds true for politics. 




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