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:
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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Homosexuality In Leviticus
By The Rt. Rev. V. Gene Robinson
The Washington Post
December 7, 2010; 10:02 AM ET
This is the second in a series of articles examining the Biblical bases for opposition to homosexuality by The Rt. Rev. V. Gene Robinson, Episcopal Bishop of New Hampshire and visiting Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress, Washington, DC.
First, and most famous, of the scriptural texts used to condemn homosexuality are the two references in the Holiness Codes of Leviticus: “You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination.” (Lev. 18:22) and “If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall be put to death; their blood is upon them.” (Lev. 20:13)
The context of these two passages are the holiness and purity codes set down for the people of Israel – rules set forth both to define what was clean and unclean before God, as well as what set the Hebrew people apart from their heathen neighbors who worshiped gods other than the one true God. In a memorable speech on homosexuality at Trinity College in 1992, The Rev. Dr. Frank G. Kirkpatrick put the biblical code in context: This “purity code assumes a ‘normal’ or natural state for things, any deviance from which is abnormal, deviant, and therefore unclean, impure, and polluting. Menstruation is not ‘normal’ for women (since it occurs less frequently than periods of non-menstruation): therefore when women are menstruating they are regarded as unclean. Blemishes [including blindness and lameness] are abnormal, therefore unclean.”
Kirkpatrick further explained: “Men who act like women are abnormal, therefore unclean. Now the assumption here is that to be a man is to desire women. Anything else is acting against one’s nature. Thus when a man lies with another man he is acting contrary to his own nature. It was inconceivable in this context that a man could be genetically or biologically predisposed to desire other men. To be engaged in homosexual activity therefore was to do what one was literally not inclined or predisposed to do. Thus it was acting against one’s own conscience and predispositions. This is what made it unnatural and therefore a violation of nature.”
This is an important point, difficult for the modern day mind to grasp: homosexuality as a sexual orientation was unknown to the ancient mind. Same gender, intimate physical contact was not unknown, of course, but everyone was presumed to be heterosexual. In his book Embodiment, An Approach to Sexuality and Christian Theology, James B. Nelson wrote, “It is crucial to remember this, for in all probability the biblical writers in each instance were speaking of homosexual acts undertaken by person whom the authors presumed to be heterosexually constituted.” Therefore, any man who lay with another man as with a woman was considered to be a heterosexual man acting against his true nature.
The psychological construct of a homosexual orientation was not posited until the late 18th century – the notion that a certain minority of humankind is affectionally oriented toward people of the same gender, rather than the opposite gender. For people so oriented, intimate physical contact with people of the opposite gender would be “against their nature.” Such a possibility was unknown to the ancient mind. And so, these verses from the Leviticus Holiness Code must be read in the context of the assumption that everyone was heterosexual by nature, and acting contrary to that was not “normal,” and outside the will of the Creator.
In practice, we modern day Christians have regarded most of the injunctions in the Holiness Codes of Leviticus and Deuteronomy as culturally bound to the ancient times of the Hebrews–but not binding on us. These same purity codes forbid eating shellfish, planting a field with two different kinds of seed or wearing simultaneously two kinds of cloth. They would prohibit us from ordaining to the priesthood any handicapped person – not to mention women. We cannot, then, isolate these passages about homosexual acts and impute to them the kind of enduring authority which we ascribe to nothing before or after these passages. One has to wonder why the biblical literalists who cite this passage against homosexuality don’t seem to go all the way and advocate for death as the punishment for homosexual behavior! We cannot have it both ways.
One other guiding principle in these codes which I presume most modern day Christians and Jews would not espouse is the bias against women. Women are generally regarded as problematic, less worthy, and more unclean than men. A man who had a discharge of semen was ritually unclean until sunset, but a woman who menstruates was unclean for a week. When a woman gave birth to a boy, she was unclean for a week – but when she gave birth to a girl, she was unclean for twice as long! I would maintain that part of what made the sin of a man lying, as Nelson wrote, “with a male as with a woman” so abominable, was the scandal of the noble, privileged, favored male of the species giving up that privilege to take on the role of the less clean, less noble, certainly less privileged female. Indeed it is not extraneous to note that during wartime, a common practice in the ancient Middle East was “the submission of captured male foes to anal rape. It was an expression of domination and contempt, a powerful symbol of scorn in societies where the dignity of the male was held in high esteem. Here a man was using another man as he might use a woman.” Nothing could be worse. So in this context, these injunctions are not surprising.
Finally, there is the context of the “science” of conception of that time. Male sperm was thought to contain all things necessary for procreation. Women contributed nothing but a place for the nascent life to incubate. Therefore, the “spilling of seed” (male sperm) on the ground was a kind of abortion, the killing of life. This “scientific” understanding led to other proscriptions in the Holiness Code. Male masturbation is condemned. And the so-called “sin of Onan” was also condemned. Onan was a heterosexual man who withdrew from intercourse with his wife before ejaculation, spilling his seed on the ground instead of depositing it in his wife’s womb. And God strikes him dead.
Add to this the ancient Israelites’ need to grow the population. Upon their return from slavery in Egypt, they were surrounded by hostile cultures, eager to destroy the invaders who had returned to their “Promised Land.” The Israelite nation needed to populate themselves in order to withstand the challenge to their presence. For a man to spill his seed on the ground rather than grow more babies was not only a sin against God, but against the nation!
Oddly enough, we have relaxed these “rules” against a man “spilling his seed” through masturbation and birth control, yet we hold onto “a man shall not lie with another man as with a woman” as if it were eternally binding on believers. Such an inconsistency simply does not make sense.
Given these changes in our modern understandings and contexts, it is no longer appropriate for us to condemn men who have intimate sexual relationships with other men based on this proscription in the Leviticus Holiness Code. Either all of these proscriptions must be tossed out as binding on us, or they all must be adhered to. Biblical “literalists” cannot have it both ways, picking and choosing which proscriptions are still appropriate.
The Rt. Rev. V. Gene Robinson is the IX Bishop of New Hampshire, in the Episcopal Diocese of New Hampshire, and a visiting Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress, Washington, D.C.
By The Rt. Rev. V. Gene Robinson