EDITOR: If you have no idea what the second part of this title is in reference towards go to this post regarding the 217th anniversary of The Bill Of Rights, which are the first ten amendments to The Constitution of These United States of America, on the Libertarian Party of Allen County's blog at some pointe to get a refresher in history and get caught up the latest news at the bottom.
We are first going to start with the update of a story previously covered on F6 under Gays In The Military. We first discussed Air Force Major Margaret Witt's case on Memorial Day (top story) and highlighted it again in the middle of July (fourth story).
Lesbian major’s DADT lawsuit moves forward
By 365gay Newscenter Staff | 05 DEC 2008
(Spokane, Washington) A full panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled a legal challenge to “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” - the ban on gays serving openly in the military - can proceed. The Bush administration had asked the court to reverse a May ruling by a three judge panel that overturned a lower court decision to toss out the suit. In upholding the decision by the panel, the 9th Circuit said the case should be considered on the basis of the 2003 ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court, which struck down a Texas criminal statute penalizing homosexual conduct. The Supreme Court in that decision said that laws against sodomy were an unconstitutional intrusion on privacy. The Air Force and Defense Secretary Robert Gates asked the full 9th Circuit to hear the issue. In a 4-3 decision, the court let stand the panel decision to allow Maj. Margaret Witt’s case to proceed.This is not all bad news, the Administration is starting to actually realize how stupid DADT is. Their game plan is actually quite cunning. They now ask the Courts to push it through for a Constitutional showdown in the Supreme Court, so no one actually has to act with the Executive or Legislative powers, and get the bad rap amongst their religious conservative base, for turning it over themselves. It is almost like they want the Courts to do the dirty work for them. Of course then, the same politicians who refuse to take a stand, can use it as a wedge issue later and assert that the bad Justices are legislating from the bench.
Witt joined the Air Force in 1986. She served in the Persian Gulf and in 2003 was awarded an Air Force Commendation Medal for her action in saving the life of a Department of Defense employee who had collapsed aboard a government-chartered flight from Bahrain. In 1993, she was selected to be the “poster child” for the Air Force Nurse Corps recruitment flyer. She then was assigned as a flight nurse and operating room nurse at McChord Air Force Base near Tacoma, Washington. But after commanders received an anonymous tip in 2004 that she is a lesbian and in a long-term relationship, the military began an investigation that led to her discharge under the military’s ban on gays serving openly. In November 2004, Major Witt was placed on unpaid leave and told she could no longer participate in any military duties, pending formal separation proceedings. In March 2006, the Air Force informed Major Witt that she was being administratively discharged on grounds of homosexual conduct.
In upholding Witt’s lawsuit the 9th Circuit did not strike down the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. But the court said the Air Force must prove that her dismissal furthered the military’s goals of troop readiness and unit cohesion. The military can now appeal the 9th Circuit ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court.
The American people should be ashamed that their elected representatives are taking the easy road home and not standing up for our fundamental principles that, all men are created equal. In other words, they are playing the game so tight, that Democratic Party Bosses in Chicago, Illinois would be impressed with the sly play, if they weren't to busy trying to cover their own corruption and lies back under the carpet. Now for the rest of the stories politically and socially speaking in reference to how negligent Dont Ask Dont Tell really is in the lives of our Service Members and what a scorching wound it is to the honour of their sacrifice for our freedom and liberty.
Is Obama caving on Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell?
By Jennifer Vanasco, Editor in Chief, 365gay.com | 21 NOV 08
This is what I was worried about. According to the Washington Times, Obama’s team is saying that even ASKING for a repeal of the ban on open gays in the military may not happen until 2010. First, he wants to build consensus. Fair enough. But it seems to me that consensus is already built - or at least as much as it’s going to be. Earlier this week, 104 retired generals and admirals called for DADT’s repeal. A former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff spoke out against DADT in 2007. So did a former Secretary of Defense. 143 members of the House have co-sponsored a bill to overturn the policy; a bill approved by the House Committee on Armed Services.He opposes DADT; but he first wants consensus from the Joint Chiefs of Staff?
We know the US military needs more soldiers to fight the two wars we are engaged in - last year alone, 627 servicemembers were dismissed under the DADT. The military needs servicemembers and gays want to serve. You know what else? DADT is expensive. In February 2006, a University of California Blue Ribbon Commission concluded that so far, it has cost the government (meaning, us, the taxpayers) $363 million. Don’t Ask is a failed policy. The only people who don’t think so are homophobes. I understand what Obama is trying to do here. He’s trying to avoid a Clintonesque debacle like the one that gave us DADT in the first place. But of everything we’re fighting for, DADT seems like it’s the least controversial and would make the most sense. If this isn’t even being looked at until 2010, then when is he going to start making good on his campaign promise of federal civil unions? When (if) he’s re-elected?
I’ve got a better idea. Why doesn’t Obama name a gay person - like Col. Margarethe Cammermeyer, say - as Secretary of Defense? That would signal real change - and give gays and lesbians real hope.
(continued from first article).... The issue of gays in the military became a flash point early in the Clinton administration as Clinton tried to fulfill a campaign promise to end the military’s ban on gays. His efforts created the current compromise policy - ending the ban but prohibiting active-duty service members from openly acknowledging they are gay. Last month more than 100 retired generals and admirals issued a statement calling for repeal of the ban.Personally, Mr. President Elect, it is not the Joint Chiefs you should be consulting; it is the thousands of gays and lesbians currently serving in silence with honour but yet also disgrace that you should be talking to.
Legislation to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” was taken up in committee this year for the first time, but did not make it to a vote. The bill is expected to be reintroduced in the upcoming session of Congress. Under DADT, two people every day are dropped from the military for being gay. In the 15 years that DADT has been in force, more than 10,000 personnel have been discharged as a result of the policy, including 800 with skills deemed ‘mission critical,’ such as pilots, combat engineers and linguists. The number of gay men and lesbians turned away by military recruiters is unknown. A study conducted last year for the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network concluded that the U.S. military could attract as many as 41,000 new recruits if gays and lesbians in the military were able to be open about their sexual orientation.
But in order for that to happen, you would have to suspend enforcement of DADT, give them immunity for them to be able to come forward, while you question or discern the "honorable course of action". Continuing to ask them to live a life of honour and truth, and yet withhold the very nature of who they are, is a disgrace to everything this Country stands for and was founded on.
It is really sad when the lyrics of Mariah Carey's "All I Want For Christmas" can get changed to something people look forward to hearing. What GLBT Service Members desire is simple, "to just say hello to you, my love" and their families too, with the exact sentiment surrounding the idea that, "our government wont let me even tell you goodbye when I ship off to sea, or inform you when I die for your freedom", and eventual peace.
In the article below, Lee Quillian, now retired from the Navy, remembers one holiday season when she was serving on a ship in the Middle East.
Gay soldiers (not) home for Christmas
By Jennifer Vanasco, editor in chief, 365gay.com | 11 DEC 08
"They risk outing their partner."Don't Ask, Don't Tell is not right, moral, honest, nor legal! It is time for this heresy of American Law to come to an end!
All the other sailors were going to a special room to film video messages to their sweethearts. But not Quillian. She didn’t record a message. She couldn’t. Because her partner is a woman. Quillian and her partner Jenny Kopsstein are just two of the thousands of gay couples affected by Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. The policy, which forbids disclosure of a gay identity while serving in the military, is challenging under the best of circumstances – but during the holidays it becomes particularly dire.
“The holidays bring up memories, expectations,” said Trey Malicoat, a therapist who has worked with servicemembers. “There are more parties, more activities, there’s a financial drain. For gay soldiers, there’s the added burden of not being able to talk about home, about where he or she would like to be, about the person who has the most significance in his or her life.” Malicoat says that this added burden can bring anxiety, depression and an increased sense of isolation to servicemembers who already feel isolated. This is true even for military members who are serving in the U.S. and can go home at the end of the day. “Even while I’m here stateside at lunch, people are talking about what presents they’re going to buy their wife or girlfriend – I’m part of the group but I can’t be part of the discussion,” said Elizabeth, an officer in the Army.
Elizabeth married her partner in Massachusetts a year ago (they’ve been together seven years), but they still need to keep their relationship a secret. “It’s very difficult to abide by the policy and not talk about what’s really going on in your life and at the same time try to connect with your fellow servicemembers. And you are supposed to connect pretty deeply, because we are supposed to put our lives on the line for each other,” Elizabeth said. She added that she thinks that the secrecy does a disservice to straight military members, “99 percent of whom would just roll with it and be OK.”
Servicemembers say that they have to take the most extraordinary precautions for the most ordinary activities. They need to watch everything they say, using gender neutral pronouns or making up a significant other of the opposite gender. They need to hide who sent them care packages, who sent them a letter, who they write to themselves. If they’re deployed in a foreign country, their partners need to limit calls to the shared phone, lest others on the base (who usually answer that phone) begin to suspect something is up. Quillian, who was on a ship, couldn’t call Kopsstein at all – ship calls are all monitored by Navy personnel.
“We definitely had less contact than a straight couple would have,” Quillian said. “Our goodbyes had to take place at home. And Jenny couldn’t be on a pier waiting for me during homecomings, even though every other sailor was kissing and hugging.” It’s tough on the person at home, too. The military has an excellent support system for family members left behind that includes counseling, a newsletter updating families on unit activities, and support groups and networks.
But gay partners of servicemembers can’t take advantage of any of that. If they do, they risk outing their partner – who under the policy will then lose their job. “Under Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, you go years and years having to hide who you are,” said Quillian’s partner Kopsstein, who herself was in the military before she told her commander that she was a lesbian. “The policy affects how you relate to people, your friendships, your work relationships, everything.” “I waste a lot of time protecting my conversations in ways I shouldn’t have to,” Elizabeth said. “I think it’s very tiring. I’m tired of it. I’m a good soldier and a good citizen. It’s ridiculous that I have to hide my real life.”
- F6 has and always will hold the men and women of this Country's Uniformed Services in the highest esteem possible and will at all times give them the honor and respect above and beyond that which they inheritable deserve from each citizen.
- F6 as an issue of editorial policy will challenge any assertion that Don't Ask, Don't Tell is either Constitutional or proper policy in our great Country, especially in a place where all men are created equal!
- F6 has several resources and commentaries regarding GAYS IN THE MILITARY for your perusal.