I am an active-duty U.S. Marine Corps infantry officer. I have deployed twice to Iraq and once to Afghanistan and have commanded infantry Marines in combat.
On Tuesday, Gen. James Amos, commandant of the Marine Corps, said he believes repealing “don’t ask, don’t tell” and allowing gay and lesbian Marines to serve openly could “cost Marines’ lives” because of the “mistakes and inattention or distractions” that might ensue. I am not homosexual. And in this instance, I must respectfully disagree with my commandant.
The commandant cites the importance of cohesion within small combat units and warns against its disruption by allowing homosexuals to stop concealing their identities. In my experience, the things that separate Marines in civilian life fade into obscurity on the battlefield. There, only one thing matters: Can you do your job? People care much more about whom you voted for or what city you’re from while on the huge airbase with five Burger Kings, or back in the States, than they do when they’re walking down a dusty road full of improvised explosive devices in Haditha or Sangin.
In the end, Marines in combat will treat sexual orientation the same way they treat race, religion and one’s stance on the likelihood of the Patriots winning another Super Bowl. I do not believe the intense desire we all feel as Marines to accomplish the mission and protect each other will be affected in the slightest by knowing the sexual orientation of the man or woman next to us.
In the recent Defense Department survey, 58 percent of combat arms Marines said they felt allowing homosexuals to serve openly would negatively affect their unit, but 84 percent of combat arms Marines who had served with a homosexual said that there would be no effect or that the effect would be positive. It seems obvious that if allowing homosexuals to serve openly degraded performance, rather than improved it, a majority of Marines who had served with homosexuals would oppose repeal. Yet this is not the case, and homosexuals serve openly in the militaries of Britain, Canada, Australia, Israel and others with no ill effect. This suggests that much of the opposition toward repeal within the Marine Corps is based on the politics of individual Marines and not any measurable military effect.
Repeal would undoubtedly produce some disruption, but if other nations’ experiences are any guide, it will be so minimal as to be essentially nonexistent. Consider what is likely to happen if and when “don’t ask” is repealed: Lance Cpl. Smith will be having a typical Marine conversation with Lance Cpl. Jones, and the topic will turn to women. Smith will remark on how much he enjoys their company. Jones will reply: “Actually, man, I like dudes.”
Jones: “Yeah, man, really.”
Smith: “Wow. I didn’t know that.”
Both will then go back to cleaning their rifles.
Is it really likely that lance corporals who know each other better than brothers, and may have saved each other’s lives in split-second reactions during deployments, are suddenly going to refuse to serve in the same unit or quit the Corps because they have to share a shower?
Repeal will of course have many effects. Gay and lesbian Marines who are now barred from discussing their identities honestly with their superiors, peers and subordinates would be able to do their jobs free from the nagging knowledge that they are being less than honest with their brothers and sisters in arms. It is difficult to see how this could do anything but improve their job performance. Gay and lesbian Marines have long fought and died for a country that refuses to acknowledge their existence. Some are certainly among the Marines who have passed through Bethesda Naval Hospital and rest in Arlington.
I believe the reluctance many Marines feel about repeal is based on the false stereotype, borne out of ignorance, that homosexuals don’t do things like pull other Marines from burning vehicles. The truth is, they do it all the time. We simply don’t know it because they can’t tell us.
It is time for “don’t ask, don’t tell” to join our other mistakes in the dog-eared chapters of history textbooks. We all bleed red, we all love our country, we are all Marines. In the end, that’s all that matters.
The writer is an infantry captain in the Marine Corps.
Posted on Advocate.com December 15, 2010
Jimmy Carter’s Ready for a Gay President
By Advocate.com Editors
Jimmy Carter is ready for a gay president — and he thinks America could stand behind one too.
The former president told BigThink.com it may not happen in this coming election, but in the very near future, he thinks the country will see a gay president. He says he thinks Americans are making great strides toward accepting homosexuality.
“Step-by-step, we have realized that this issue of homosexuality has the same adverse and progressive elements as when we dealt with the race issue 50 years ago — or 40 years ago.”
He said with the country acclimated to having a black or female president, it’s only a matter of time before it is ready for a gay one.
Read The Full Story Here:
Taken From Boston.com (The Boston Globe)
December 10, 2010
London tuition fee protest
Yesterday, in central London, thousands of students and others gathered to protest as Britain’s Parliament met to vote on a proposal to raise university tuition fees significantly – nearly tripling them – as part of a continuing set of austerity programs. During the protest, several clashes took place between police and protesters, resulting in numerous injuries and 43 arrests. Late in the demonstration, a group of protesters attacked the car of Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall as the couple were inside, being driven to the London Palladium. The car was slightly damaged, the royal couple unharmed, though a bit shaken by the incident. Parliament did end up narrowly approving the measure, and the fee increases are set to take effect in 2012. Collected here are images from London last night. (39 photos total)
A student protester stands on a barrier in Parliament Square on December 9, 2010 in London, England. Parliament was voting on whether to implement the coalition Government’s proposals to increase university tuition fees in England from 3,290 GBP to 9,000 GBP. (Oli Scarff/Getty Images)
Placards are pictured outside the University of London, on 9 December 2010, as thousands of students prepare to take part in protests against government proposals to let universities triple tuition fees. (LEON NEAL/AFP/Getty Images) #
Police videotape proceedings and stand ready to meet a students demonstration in Parliament Square near the Palace of Westminster about the increase in University fees in London, Thursday, Dec., 9, 2010. (AP Photo / Lefteris Pitarakis) #
Police horses charge into a crowd of students demonstrating in Parliament Square near the Palace of Westminster about the increase in University fees in London, Thursday, Dec., 9, 2010. (AP Photo/ Lefteris Pitarakis) #
Protesters attempt to set fire to the Norwegian Christmas tree in Trafalgar Square, London, during a protest against the increase in university tuition fees, Thursday, Dec. 9, 2010. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham) #
British police arrest a youth during scuffles during a protest by students against government plans to triple tuition fees, in central London, Thursday, Dec. 9, 2010. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis) #
Britain’s Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall react as their car is attacked, in London, Thursday, Dec. 9, 2010. Angry protesters in London attacked the car containing Prince Charles, the heir to the British throne, and his wife Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall. An Associated Press photographer saw demonstrators kick the car in Regent Street, in the heart of London’s shopping district. The car then sped off. Charles’ office, Clarence House, confirmed that “their royal highnesses’ car was attacked by protesters on the way to their engagement at the London Palladium this evening, but their royal highnesses are unharmed.” (AP Photo/Matt Dunham) #
A broken window and splattered paint are pictured on a car used to transport Britain’s Prince Charles and Camilla the Duchess of Cornwall to the London Palladium in London, on December 9, 2010, after it was attacked by protesters during a student demonstration. (TERRY STEPHENS/AFP/Getty Images) #
Riot police hold their shields up to protect windows inside the Treasury in Parliament Square during clashes with student protesters on December 9, 2010 in London, England. (Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images) #
British riot police come under attack from flares as they clash with protesters during student demonstrations in Parliament Square, in London, on December 9, 2010. (CARL DE SOUZA/AFP/Getty Images) #
Forensic police carry out investigations in Parliament Square in London, Friday, Dec. 10, 2010. A student protest Thursday over a tuition fee increase caused damage around Parliament. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth) #
Speedo-wearing Santas ran the streets of Boston, Toronto, Chicago, and Atlanta over the weekend to raise money for various charities.
The event kicked off in Boston 11 years ago and has since spread to multiple cities throughout the United States and Canada. Included in the list of charities the runs raise money for are a number of LGBT and HIV/AIDS research organizations.
Watch video from the runs below.
Monday, December 13, 2010
Three Discharged Vets Challenge DADT, Sue For Reinstatement
Posted by Joe Sudbay (DC) at 12/13/2010 12:41:00 PM
Secretary Gates keeps saying he wants DADT ended by Congress, but we’re still waiting — and time is running out. Discharged servicemembers aren’t waiting. Today, three of them, Mike Almy, Anthony Loverde and Jason Knight, filed a lawsuit against DADT, seeking reinstatement. The suit was filed in California, meaning the Witt Standard is applicable.
SLDN’s press release:
Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN) and Morrison & Foerster LLP filed a complaint today against the United States government asking for the reinstatement of three service members discharged under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT), the discriminatory law barring gay, lesbian and bisexual service members from serving honestly and with integrity. The filing in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California, also argues the current law and the regulations, policies, and guidance that implement it, are unconstitutional. To read the filing visit: http://bit.ly/eZg5EL
Statement by Servicemembers Legal Defense Network Executive Director and Army Veteran Aubrey Sarvis:
“This filing is a shot across the bow as we prepare to pursue and sustain an aggressive far reaching litigation strategy if the Senate fails to act this month to repeal the law. This dispute can be resolved by Congress or by the courts. With this filing we put Congress on notice that a cadre of service members and our national legal team stand ready to litigate strategically around the country. The plaintiffs’ are three service members who want to serve their country again. They represent some of our best and brightest who were fired because of who they are, despite their decorated records. More than 14,000 have already lost their jobs and the investigations and discharges still continue. We are also preparing litigation on behalf of young people who would enter the armed forces to serve our country but for this terrible law. Another suit we’re working on involves clients discharged under ‘Don’t Ask’ who want to enter the reserves or a guard unit, and we plan to file such cases early next year if Congress fails to act. Clearly there is an urgent need for the Senate to act on legislation this week.”
Statement by Morrison & Foerster’s M. Andrew Woodmansee:
“Today we are asking the Court to allow these three brave Americans to fulfill the commitment they made years ago when they joined the military. They simply want to serve their country, and it is fundamentally un-American to refuse their service merely because they are gay — especially when our all-volunteer military is stretched thin as we fight wars in both Iraq and Afghanistan. Throughout our nation’s history, citizens have turned to the courts to remedy injustices when Congress would not act. If the Senate will not meet its obligations by ending this unconstitutional law, we will ask the Court to step in to protect the rights of my clients as well as all men and women who wish to serve this country in the military.”
ABOUT THE PLANTIFFS:
Plaintiff Michael D. Almy served for thirteen years in the United States Air Force, including four deployments to the Middle East. He is a highly trained communications officer. During his thirteen-year Air Force career, former Major Almy received numerous military awards and decorations. In 2006, he was discharged from the Air Force under DADT.
Plaintiff Anthony J. Loverde served for seven years in the Air Force. He is a trained C-130 Loadmaster and Precision Measurement Equipment Laboratory Technician. During his seven-year Air Force career, former Staff Sergeant Loverde received numerous military awards and decorations. In 2008, he was discharged from the Air Force under DADT. He is currently a contractor serving in Iraq, doing effectively the same job with many of his old coworkers, as an openly gay man.
Plaintiff Jason D. Knight served for a total of five years in the United States Navy. He is a trained Cryptological Technician Interpretive, Linguist. During his five-year Navy career, former Petty Officer Second Class Knight received numerous military awards and decorations. Mr. Knight has the unique distinction of being discharged twice under DADT. In 2005, he was discharged from the Navy under DADT. Mr. Knight was recalled to active duty in 2006 but was discharged again in 2007 under DADT.
Posted on Advocate.com December 08, 2010
H.S. Wrestler on Trial for “Butt Drag”
By Michelle Garcia
A 17-year-old high school wrestler has been expelled from school and charged with sexual battery for using a controversial wrestling move that has been deemed legal for decades.
Preston Hill, a Buchanan High School student from Clovis, Calif., was punished for his use of the “butt drag,” in which a wrestler grabs his opponent’s butt cheeks and places his finger in the opponent’s anus for leverage, according to the Fresno Bee. Hill’s trial before the Fresno County Superior Court begins Thursday.
Hill’s father said coaches taught his son the “butt drag” when he was in middle school and that it was a common move. The Clovis police, however, said Hill went too far when he inserted his fingers deeply into a freshman teammate at a July 15 practice session. The unidentified freshman’s father said Hill targeted his son because the 14-year-old stood up to Hill for bullying. Now Hill’s friends who are still in school are bullying the freshman student for speaking up about the encounter in July.
Hill was captain of the team and was up for several college scholarships. He is now being home-schooled and taking additional classes at Center for Advanced Research and Technology in Clovis.
In 2007, South Dakota wrestler Jerome Hunt, then 17, was found guilty and sentenced to probation after being charged with rape for performing the same move on at least six other wrestlers.
The mother of Mark Bingham, one of the passengers on United Flight 93 believed to have prevented the plane from hitting government buildings in Washington, D.C., said no one on the plane questioned whether her son was gay when it came time to overtake the aircraft from hijackers. Therefore, Alice Hoagland said, the same reasoning should be the rule when it comes to the military and its ban on openly gay and lesbian soldiers.
Her son was eulogized by Sen. John McCain, who Bingham supported in the 2000 Republican primary for president of the United States. Now, as the ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, McCain is leading the charge to keep the 17-year-old law.
“I hope he comes around on ‘don’t ask, don’t tell,'” she said on MSNBC. “I know he’s entrenched in the mistaken notion that gay people somehow are weaker, that gay men are predators, that gay men are seeking a sexual outlet with straight men, and I think it is that kind of misconception that is driving that needless clinging to ‘don’t ask, don’t tell.'”
Watch the full interview here:
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