USA - support for repeal of Dont Ask Dont Tell is growing

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Jul 08: First Hearing in 15 Years on DADT Held

Postby admin » Sat 16 Aug 2008 10:42

The first hearing in 15 years on the military's controversial "don't ask, don't tell" policy prohibiting gay and lesbian soldiers from serving openly was held in the U.S. House of Representatives Wednesday (Jul 08). The hearing before the Military Personnel Subcommittee, part of the House Armed Services Committee, was the first since "don't ask, don't tell" was enacted in 1993.

The hearing featured five witnesses, three in favor of repealing the ban (retired Army major general Vance Coleman, retired Navy captain Joan Darrah, and retired Marine staff sergeant Eric Alva) and two in favor of keeping it (Elaine Donnelly, president of the Center for Military Readiness; and retired Army sergeant major Brian Jones).

Coleman led off by speaking of his experience as an African-American in segregated units in the 1950s. Darrah spoke of the fear she felt under "don't ask, don't tell," knowing that no matter how good she was at her job, someone could out her at any point and she'd be fired. She recalled being in the Pentagon just minutes before a plane struck it on 9/11, killing several of her colleagues, and how her partner, not listed among her emergency contacts or in any other paperwork, would've been the last to know about Darrah were she among the casualties too.

For his part, Alva, the first American soldier wounded in the Iraq war (and a former Advocate cover man) told of how his colleagues, who knew he was gay, tended to him after he stepped on a land mine. Far from being a threat to unit cohesion -- one of the underlying assumptions of "don't ask, don't tell" -- his sexual orientation, Alva said, didn't matter at all when his fellow soldiers came to his rescue.

On the opposing side, Donnelly articulated various complaints with ending "don't ask, don't tell," including the notion that open service by gays would lower the morale of those members of the military who oppose it. She also referred to a certain "passive-aggressive" look that some gay people give heterosexuals. Jones, meanwhile, expressed concerns about soldiers of the same sex huddling together "skin to skin" to stay warm in freezing temperatures. In those situations, he said, "arousal" would not be acceptable.

Overall, subcommittee members seemed sympathetic to the plight of gay soldiers, and several, like Rep. Susan A. Davis (D-California), the subcommittee's chairwoman, clearly called for repeal. Other members seemed less inclined to overturn the ban, like Rep. John M. McHugh (R-N.Y.).

"By and large, I thought the majority of the members, the majority of the [witnesses], focused on the real issues," Aubrey Sarvis, executive director of Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, said afterward. "We had differences, but by the end of the day, it was a terrific beginning for us in the House and the Senate."

Sarvis added that he expects more hearings on "don't ask, don't tell" in both chambers of the next Congress starting in 2009 and expressed his belief that the policy will be repealed at that time. "I believe the votes are gettable and that this thing can be won, and I think it can be won in the next Congress," Sarvis said.

A House bill to repeal "don't ask, don't tell" currently has 143 cosponsors. A companion bill in the Senate has not yet been introduced. (reproduced from The Advocate)
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President-elect Obama promises to back gay rights legislatio

Postby Lincoln Cliff » Wed 19 Nov 2008 19:51

The next President of the United States has published a comprehensive list of action he will take on gay rights.

In a statement published on the Presidential transition website, Barack Obama and the Vice President-elect, Joe Biden, committed themselves to strengthening federal hate crimes protection by passing the Matthew Shepard Act. > http://www.change.gov/agenda/civil_rights_agenda/

The President-elect also committed to support civil unions and federal rights for LGBT couples.

view the full article at http://www.pinknews.co.uk/news/articles/2005-9617.html

The President-elect said he would oppose a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage and the prohibition on openly gay, lesbian and bisexual people serving in the US Armed Forces. "Barack Obama agrees with former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff John Shalikashvili and other military experts that we need to repeal the "don't ask, don't tell" policy. The key test for military service should be patriotism, a sense of duty, and a willingness to serve.

Progress perhaps?
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Obama administration delays changes to military gay ban

Postby admin » Tue 31 Mar 2009 09:08

Full article at http://www.pinknews.co.uk/news/articles/2005-11794.html

US Defence Secretary Robert Gates has said that the military's 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' policy regarding gay and lesbian service members is unlikely to be changed any time soon. Speaking on Fox News Sunday, he said: "The president and I feel like we've got a lot on our plates right now and let's push that one down the road a little bit."

"It continues to be the law and any change in policy would require a change in the law," Gates said. "We will follow the law, whatever it is. That dialogue, though, has really not progressed very far at this point in the administration," he added.
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infantry platoon leader highlights issues surrounding DADT

Postby admin » Sun 26 Apr 2009 17:59

Full story on pinknews.co.uk

In the first part of series of interviews with Dan Choi, the infantry platoon leader leading the fight against 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell', Adrian Tippetts highlights the serious national security issues surrounding expelling vital service members for being gay.

After making headlines across America by coming out live on national television, First Lieutenant Dan Choi is feeling understandably elated. Choi is a co-founder of Knights Out, a new support group, comprising graduates from the US Military Academy of West Point, for lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans military personnel.

Dan spoke candidly about the how DADT causes misery for LGBT soldiers, damages morale and threatens national security, while debunking the myths put out by right wing extremists intent on keeping the ban.

“We swore to follow and execute every order unless it was immoral, unethical or illegal. Title 10 of the US code fails on all three counts because it forces the 65,000 LGBT soldiers serving in active duty to lie about our identity. We stand alongside all our soldiers that are serving their country selflessly in seeking to bring an end to this legislation.”

The Pentagon estimated the cost of the policy in the period 1996-2006 alone to be over $360 million. It is impossible to know the number of lesbian and gay soldiers who cut their careers short, because they simply did not want to live a lie, and have the prospect of immediate, dishonourable discharge constantly over their heads.

Graduating in 2003 with degree major in Arabic studies and a BSc in environmental engineering, and fully trained in infantry training, Choi was committed to playing his part in operation Iraqi Freedom. He proved an indispensable team leader, during his 2006-2007 tour of duty in Baghdad. It is precisely people of Choi’s calibre that has helped to keep the insurgency in check.

"But I lived in secret, horrified at the prospect of being kicked out of the army because of who I was.” Despite being a highly valued team member, Choi’s refusal to lie and live a secret, double life left him no alternative but to leave.
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Obama holding 'preliminary talks' on repealing military gay

Postby admin » Mon 11 May 2009 20:17

Full article on PinkNews.co.uk

The Obama administration is holding "preliminary discussions" on repealing Don't Ask, Don't Tell but change may take months, if at all, an advisor to the President has said.

Speaking yesterday on ABC's This Week with George Stephanopoulos, White House National Security Advisor James Jones said he didn't know whether to the policy would ever be overturned, describing it as a "complicated" and "sensitive" issue. “It’s a complicated issue. It will be teed up appropriately and it will be discussed in the way the president does things, which is be very deliberative, very thoughtful, seeking out all sides on the issue,” Jones said.

On the possibility of suspending prosecutions and investigations while the review continues, Jones said: “Well, maybe that’s an option that eventually we’ll get to but we’re not there now.”
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Obama speech on 40th anniversary of Stonewall includes DADT

Postby admin » Sun 12 Jul 2009 17:42

THE WHITE HOUSE, June 29, 2009
REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT AT LGBT PRIDE MONTH RECEPTION

This struggle, I don't need to tell you, is incredibly difficult, although I think it's important to consider the extraordinary progress that we have made. There are unjust laws to overturn and unfair practices to stop. And though we've made progress, there are still fellow citizens, perhaps neighbors or even family members and loved ones, who still hold fast to worn arguments and old attitudes; who fail to see your families like their families; and who would deny you the rights that most Americans take for granted. And I know this is painful and I know it can be heartbreaking.

.. It's the story of the Stonewall protests, which took place 40 years ago this week, when a group of citizens -- with few options, and fewer supporters -- decided they'd had enough and refused to accept a policy of wanton discrimination. And two men who were at those protests are here today. Imagine the journey that they've travelled.

.. So this story, this struggle, continues today -- for even as we face extraordinary challenges as a nation, we cannot -- and will not -- put aside issues of basic equality. (Applause.) We seek an America in which no one feels the pain of discrimination based on who you are or who you love.


.. And I know that many in this room don't believe that progress has come fast enough, and I understand that. It's not for me to tell you to be patient, any more than it was for others to counsel patience to African Americans who were petitioning for equal rights a half century ago.

.. But I say this: We have made progress and we will make more. And I want you to know that I expect and hope to be judged not by words, not by promises I've made, but by the promises that my administration keeps.

Now, while there is much more work to do, we can point to important changes we've already put in place since coming into office. I've signed a memorandum requiring all agencies to extend as many federal benefits as possible to LGBT families as current law allows. And these are benefits that will make a real difference for federal employees and Foreign Service Officers, who are so often treated as if their families don't exist. And I'd like to note that one of the key voices in helping us develop this policy is John Berry, our director of the Office of Personnel Management, who is here today. And I want to thank John Berry. (Applause.)
I've called on Congress to repeal the so-called Defense of Marriage Act to help end discrimination -- (applause) -- to help end discrimination against same-sex couples in this country. Now, I want to add we have a duty to uphold existing law, but I believe we must do so in a way that does not exacerbate old divides. And fulfilling this duty in upholding the law in no way lessens my commitment to reversing this law. I've made that clear.

I'm also urging Congress to pass the Domestic Partners Benefits and Obligations Act, which will guarantee the full range of benefits, including health care, to LGBT couples and their children. (Applause.) My administration is also working hard to pass an employee non-discrimination bill and hate crimes bill, and we're making progress on both fronts. (Applause.) Judy and Dennis Shepard, as well as their son Logan, are here today. I met with Judy in the Oval Office in May -- (applause) -- and I assured her and I assured all of you that we are going to pass an inclusive hate crimes bill into law, a bill named for their son Matthew. (Applause.)

[..]

And finally, I want to say a word about "don't ask, don't tell." As I said before -- I'll say it again -- I believe "don't ask, don't tell" doesn't contribute to our national security. (Applause.) In fact, I believe preventing patriotic Americans from serving their country weakens our national security. Now, my administration is already working with the Pentagon and members of the House and the Senate on how we'll go about ending this policy, which will require an act of Congress.

Someday, I'm confident, we'll look back at this transition and ask why it generated such angst, but as Commander-in-Chief, in a time of war, I do have a responsibility to see that this change is administered in a practical way and a way that takes over the long term. That's why I've asked the Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to develop a plan for how to thoroughly implement a repeal. I know that every day that passes without a resolution is a deep disappointment to those men and women who continue to be discharged under this policy -- patriots who often possess critical language skills and years of training and who've served this country well. But what I hope is that these cases underscore the urgency of reversing this policy not just because it's the right thing to do, but because it is essential for our national security.

Now, even as we take these steps, we must recognize that real progress depends not only on the laws we change but, as I said before, on the hearts we open. For if we're honest with ourselves, we'll acknowledge that there are good and decent people in this country who don't yet fully embrace their gay brothers and sisters -- not yet.

[..]

Now, 40 years ago, in the heart of New York City at a place called the Stonewall Inn, a group of citizens, including a few who are here today, as I said, defied an unjust policy and awakened a nascent movement.

It was the middle of the night. The police stormed the bar, which was known for being one of the few spots where it was safe to be gay in New York. Now, raids like this were entirely ordinary. Because it was considered obscene and illegal to be gay, no establishments for gays and lesbians could get licenses to operate. The nature of these businesses, combined with the vulnerability of the gay community itself, meant places like Stonewall, and the patrons inside, were often the victims of corruption and blackmail.


Now, ordinarily, the raid would come and the customers would disperse. But on this night, something was different. There are many accounts of what happened, and much has been lost to history, but what we do know is this: People didn't leave. They stood their ground. And over the course of several nights they declared that they had seen enough injustice in their time. This was an outpouring against not just what they experienced that night, but what they had experienced their whole lives. And as with so many movements, it was also something more: It was at this defining moment that these folks who had been marginalized rose up to challenge not just how the world saw them, but also how they saw themselves.

As we've seen so many times in history, once that spirit takes hold there is little that can stand in its way. (Applause.) And the riots at Stonewall gave way to protests, and protests gave way to a movement, and the movement gave way to a transformation that continues to this day. It continues when a partner fights for her right to sit at the hospital bedside of a woman she loves. It continues when a teenager is called a name for being different and says, "So what if I am?" It continues in your work and in your activism, in your fight to freely live your lives to the fullest.

In one year after the protests, a few hundred gays and lesbians and their supporters gathered at the Stonewall Inn to lead a historic march for equality. But when they reached Central Park, the few hundred that began the march had swelled to 5,000. Something had changed, and it would never change back.

The truth is when these folks protested at Stonewall 40 years ago no one could have imagined that you -- or, for that matter, I -- (laughter) -- would be standing here today. (Applause.) So we are all witnesses to monumental changes in this country. That should give us hope, but we cannot rest. We must continue to do our part to make progress -- step by step, law by law, mind by changing mind. And I want you to know that in this task I will not only be your friend, I will continue to be an ally and a champion and a President who fights with you and for you.
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US Senate to hold hearing on gay military policy

Postby admin » Tue 28 Jul 2009 19:43

The US Senate will hold congressional hearings into the country's 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy. The policy prevents openly gay men and women from serving in the US military and has so far seen nearly 13,000 servicemen and women dismissed on the grounds of their sexuality. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York has led a campaign against it. She announced on Monday that the Senate Armed Services Committee will hold hearings on the controversial policy in the autumn. A spokeswoman for the committee confirmed this, but said no specific legislation is being considered.

Gillibrand had originally proposed an amendment to the defence authorisation bill for an 18-month moratorium to be put on the policy, but dropped it last week after she failed to round up the necessary 60 votes. In a statement, Gillibrand said: "This policy is wrong for our national security and wrong for the moral foundation upon which our country was founded . . . `Don't Ask, Don't Tell' is an unfair, outdated measure that violates the civil rights of some of our bravest, most heroic men and women. By repealing this policy, we will increase America's strength - both militarily and morally."

She added that a recent poll had shown that 69 per cent of Americans favour military service by openly gay men and lesbians and commented: "More than 100 retired US military leaders - including the former head of the Naval Academy - signed on to a statement last November calling for an end to 'Don't Ask Don't Tell' policy."

Former secretary of state Colin Powell, himself a retired general, said last month that while he supported the bill upon its inception, "Sixteen years have now gone by, and I think a lot has changed with respect to attitudes within our country, and therefore I think this is a policy and a law that should be reviewed".

CNN reports that, since Obama took office, 287 servicemen and women have been discharged on grounds of sexual orientation.

For full artcile visit pinknews.co.uk
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US Secretary of the Army Says Military Ready to Lift Gay Ban

Postby admin » Tue 27 Oct 2009 20:05

full article at http://www.reuters.com/article/pressRel ... RN20091026

Former Republican Lawmaker Sets Tone for Other Services

SANTA BARBARA, Calif., Oct. 26 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Secretary of the
Army, John McHugh, indicated this weekend that the Army is prepared to lift
the ban on openly gay service if the Commander-in-Chief and the Congress
decide to end the "don't ask, don't tell" policy, a prospect that has gathered
steam in recent weeks.

McHugh, formerly a Republican congressman from the
conservative 23rd district of New York, is the highest official inside the
Pentagon to express such support. He told the Army Times on Sunday that there
was no reason to fear that major difficulties would result from lifting the
ban, and that he would help implement the policy change when the time comes.

"The Army has a big history of taking on similar issues," he said, with
"predictions of doom and gloom that did not play out." He also suggested that
repeal may come in phases, with early action involving, for example, allowing
open gays to serve in some occupations and not others.

"What we're seeing is a tipping point in the opinions of both military and
civilian leaders on this issue," said Dr. Nathaniel Frank, senior research
fellow at the Palm Center. "The Army is the largest of the services and the
most heavily involved in our wars abroad, and for Secretary McHugh to state
clearly that it can handle repeal sends a strong signal to the other service
secretaries that they can do the same."

Dr. Aaron Belkin, director of the Palm Center, said Secretary McHugh's
comments were enormously significant. But he pointed out that there is no
research to support the idea of letting gay soldiers serve in some units but
not others. "The rationale for the ban applies equally across all job
categories," he said. "So if it's okay to be an openly gay Arabic interpreter,
it's also okay to be openly gay in the infantry or on a submarine. Since
conduct rules apply across the board, there's just no basis for applying
different standards to different specialties."
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American Medical Association - gay military ban 'bad for hea

Postby admin » Wed 11 Nov 2009 22:59

full article at http://www.pinknews.co.uk/2009/11/11/do ... or-health/

The American Medical Association voted yesterday to oppose bans on gay marriage and out gay personnel in the military.

Delegates also cited health issues around the ban on openly gay military personnel. The ban means gays and lesbians can serve in the armed forces but must not reveal their sexual orientation to colleagues, which includes medical professionals.

Associated Press reports that doctors who pushed for opposition to the gay ban said it had a "chilling effect" on communication between gays and their doctors.

President Barack Obama has promised to end the military gay ban, otherwise known as Don't Ask, Don't Tell, but advocates have complained that change is taking too long.

He is said to be working with congressional leaders to repeal the Clinton-era law.

He also criticised the Defence of Marriage Act in his election campaign. This bars gay couples from receiving federal benefits
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2 Feb 10 - Pentagon begins tackling "don't ask, don't tell"

Postby Lincoln Cliff » Tue 02 Feb 2010 20:36

http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE6 ... liticsNews

A wary U.S. military said on Tuesday it would begin to prepare for an eventual repeal of its "don't ask, don't tell" policy barring gays from serving openly in the armed forces, as requested by President Barack Obama. But top defense officials made clear change should be gradual.

Obama called for repeal of "don't ask, don't tell" in his State of the Union address last week, putting a spotlight on the politically charged issue ahead of congressional elections in November and in the middle of efforts to get his budget through a skeptical Congress.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who has voiced caution in the past against moving too quickly to repeal "don't ask, don't tell," told a congressional committee that he appointed two advisers to review steps the U.S. military would have to take to integrate openly gay service members.

Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the U.S. military's Joint Chiefs of Staff, cautioned that any implementation plan for allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly in the Armed Forces "must be carefully derived, sufficiently thorough and thoughtfully executed."

The internal Pentagon review, to be led by Army General Carter Ham and General Counsel Jeh Johnson, is expected to look at sensitive issues, including the possibility of extending marriage and bereavement benefits to the partners of gay soldiers.
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