Frontlines: The Latest from OutServe-SLDN

One Who Will Not Be Stopped

Congratulations to SLDN interim executive director Kathleen DeBold, who will be honored as one of the 21 Leaders for the 21st Century by Women's e-News on May 22. Kathleen has been chosen as one of "Seven Who Will Not Be Stopped." She'll be honored for her work as executive director of the Mautner Project. Learn more about the award ceremony here; and more about Kathleen's pioneering work on women's health here. All of us at SLDN are enormously proud of Kathleen. Please join us in saluting her for her amazing contributions to our community, and so many causes near and dear to our hearts. - Steve Ralls

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SLDN to Co-Present ‘Semper Fi’ at SF Film Festival

SLDN is proud to partner with Frameline to co-present Semper Fi: One Marine's Journey at the Frameline Festival in San Francisco, June 14-24, 2007. Semper Fi is the story of Jeff Key (pictured), a gay marine from Parrish, Alabama, and his crisis of conscience while serving in Iraq. Key is a former SLDN client, and the film is based on his critically acclaimed one-man play, The Eyes of Babylon. From Frameline: "Lance Corporal Jeff Key is one of the most patriotic people you'll ever meet. A gay man from Alabama, he felt there was something missing in his life, so, at age 34, he joined the Marines. They bent the rules to accommodate his age, but he kept his homosexuality a secret. Semper Fi blends documentary and interview footage with Key’s one-man theater performance about his tour of duty in Iraq as a closeted gay soldier. Semper Fi paints a refreshing portrait of a gay man we rarely meet and proves that patriotism, like sexuality, comes in many different packages." For more information about the Frameline Festival, click here. And check here at Frontlines for more information, including dates and times, soon. - Steve Ralls

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In New Hampshire, Tackling Civil Unions & DA, DT

As same-sex couples in New Hampshire celebrate the recent passage of civil unions legislation there, questions are being raised about the impact of the bill on lesbian and gay military members. From Foster's, in New Hampshire: For some lawmakers and observers, the state Senate's Thursday passage of the civil unions bill signaled the beginning of legal and other challenges, including its effect on the New Hampshire National Guard. "The bottom line is I believe that civil unions will endanger the military's 'don't ask, don't tell' policy," Wakefield Sen. Joseph Kenney, who joined nine other Republicans voting against measure, said in an interview after the vote. Kenney, who served in Iraq with the Marines, said the military could learn of soldiers' civil unions through public town reports that list marriages, births and deaths, but added that someone who "values their military career" would not enter a union. Military rules prohibit soldiers from being openly gay or lesbian, however, it will not ask for any sexual orientation. Soldiers found to be openly gay or lesbian could face expulsion, according to military policy. Civil unions pose concerns from the perspective of "combat effectiveness, morale and unit cohesion," Kenney said. Democrat Jim Splaine, an openly gay representative from Portsmouth, said Kenney's comments highlight the need for the military to overturn the current "don't ask, don't tell" policy. "I'm amazed a state senator would use an argument like this," he said, noting "there's way too much paranoia around" the bill. You can read the full debate in the New Hampshire press here, and learn the real story about civil unions & "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" in the SLDN Survival Guide. - Steve Ralls

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The Campaign to Uninvite General Pace

Students at the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business have launched a campaign to convince the school to disinvite General Peter Pace as keynote speaker of the 55th Annual Management Conference. You may remember that General Pace found himself in a wee bit of trouble last month after making remarks referring to homosexuality as "immoral." From the Campaign's website: The first phase of the Campaign to Uninvite General Peter Pace is a petition calling upon the U of C and its Graduate School of Business to cancel the scheduled keynote address by General Peter Pace, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, at the GSB's 55th Annual Management Conference on May 18th, 2007, sponsored by Harris Bank, to be held downtown at the Gleacher Center and Hyatt Regency. In the first three days following the petition's launch, more than 750 community members signed it. The signers, nearly all of them are members of the University of Chicago community, include GSB students, staff, faculty, and at least 20 GSB alumni. The overwhelming response to the petition drive demonstrates the profound shock and outrage of many members of University's GLBT community, and its allies, about the GSB's plan to go ahead with Pace's scheduled address under its auspices. The University of Chicago student organization Queers & Associates is planning a demonstration in front of the Hyatt on May 18th, as are several citywide community groups. On April 21, the Deans of the GSB issued a statement confirming their plans to go ahead with Pace's talk. The statement makes no mention of any plans for programming, in a forum comparable to that being afforded to Pace in prestige, scale, or cost, that would address the status of GLBT people in management or business, or any other step that might ameliorate the immediate, concrete, and profound effects of Pace's talk on the climate for GLBT community members, both in and out of the closet. Instead, the statement suggests that a conference on the topic of "inclusion" will be held sometime next year. In addition, the GSB has not responded to requests to make public several facts about the Management Conference, including the dollar amount of any compensation or other consideration being furnished to Pace. The GSB's statement claims that the idea of retracting Gen. Pace's invitation to speak "goes against principles of free speech, which we value greatly." While we, too, highly value freedom of speech, and we are deeply concerned about the way that "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy directly interferes with the free speech rights of Americans in uniform, we believe a distinction must be made between speech, on the one hand, and the extension of a platform for speech, on the other. For more information, click here. - Steve Ralls

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If You Like SLDN.org . . .

. . . then you should meet one of the people behind our new site. PC Magazine recently profiled Alan Emtage of Mediapolis in its 25 Years of PC Magazine issue. Alan worked on some of the programming behind our new website (which is engineered and made possible by the generous support of Mediapolis), and is recognized by PC for inventing the world's first search engine. "There are two things you should know about Alan Emtage, the man who invented Archie, the world's first computer search engine," the magazine says. "One: Contrary to popular belief, he did not name his seminal search engine after a comic book. In fact, he loathes the Archie comics. 'It's the most insipid thing I've ever read,' he says. Two: He hasn't owned a computer since he parted ways with his Sinclair ZX81 back in 1983. 'Computers are my profession,' he admits. 'But they are not my hobby.'" Luckily for us, Alan is pretty darn good at his chosen profession. For more information on Mediapolis, click here. - Steve Ralls

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Clinton & Huckabee Talk About the Ban

The 2008 presidential contenders are talking about "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." USA Today reports that, during a campaign trip to Iowa, Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton noted that "Right now, we are discharging soldiers at a time when we don't have enough people to do the missions we need around the world because they're gay. Not because they've done anything, but just because they're gay." Clinton went on to quote the late Sen. Barry Goldwater, a Republican who supported the rights of gay troops: "I think the question should be not whether you are straight, but whether you shoot straight." A Republican candidate for the White House, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee (pictured), "left open the possibility that, if elected, he would . . . change the Pentagon's policy on gay service members, although he insisted he would take his cues from military commanders on both fronts," the Associated Press said. Huckabee, the AP reported, said he would "leave it up to the military and let their recommendation stand" on whether to keep "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" in place. "I'm not sure that being homosexual should automatically disqualify a person from the military. If a person can do his or her job, you know that's not for me the biggest issue," Huckabee said. (You can join the discussion about Huckabee's comments at Pam's House Blend.) - Steve Ralls

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Duty Bound: A Gay Linguist Speaks Out

The April 2007 issue of GENRE Magazine includes a special "From Where I Sit" column by an anonymous service member who discusses his views on being gay in the military and "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." The author, an Arabic linguist in the U.S. Navy, tells all about his experience in the armed forces. Here's an excerpt from his column: "Looking back at the day I enlisted, I now realize the difficulty of being gay in the military lies not in the fact that I'm being harassed, condemned, taunted or shunned. In fact, it's just the opposite. I've developed countless, lifelong personal relationships in the Navy. Some of those closest to me know that I'm gay. And I'm sure if I came out to everyone, 90% of them would give me a dismissive "And ... ?" and then shrug their shoulders, and tell me to pass the salt." "No, the hardest part about being gay in the military is knowing that my friends would fully accept me with no questions asked - but, I'm not allowed to let them. I'm not allowed to share my life with the men and women for whom I would give it, and who would do the same for me. I'm not allowed to develop personal connections with people with whom I am supposed to fight for our very freedom. And you want me to talk about morale? What some of the generals and politicians don't understand is that the overwhelming majority of servicemembers just don't care anymore. A recent Zogby poll showed that a tremendous 73% of active-duty servicemembers wouldn't care if someone in their unit were gay. In 1993, the percentage was 13%." "I've always said that staying in the military is a bigger jab at the DADT policy than coming out in protest. In the end, history will show that we were willing to fight, bleed and die for a nation that discriminates against us. Why? Because that's not the America we know." You can read the full column here, or pick up the current issue of GENRE. - Steve Ralls

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Dixon Steps Down

As many of you have no doubt already read, SLDN's long-time executive director, C. Dixon Osburn, is stepping down from his post at the organization. Dixon co-founded SLDN in 1993 with former Army Captain Michelle Benecke. Since then, through their leadership and dedication, SLDN has become a first-class advocacy organization, fighting on behalf of our men and women in uniform. You can read the release announcing Dixon's depature here. And you can leave messages for him here in our comments section, or over at Pam's House Blend. I know he has been moved by the numerous well-wishes that have already poured in. Under Dixon Osburn’s leadership, SLDN has: • Provided legal assistance to 8,000 service members harmed by the gay ban; • Filed a constitutional challenge, Cook v. Gates, to “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell;’ • Supported introduction of legislation to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” in the last two sessions of Congress; • Obtained more than 36 changes to military policy and practice that benefit LGBT service members, including Executive Orders on hate crime sentence enhancement and protections in issuance of security clearances; • Obtained the first ever Department of Defense regulations prohibiting anti-gay harassment; • Cultivated two retired generals and one admiral to come out publicly for the first time in December 2003 – People Magazine named them as among their Most Influential Americans of 2003; • Cultivated seven Army Colonels and Navy Captains to come out as gay in 2007 in The Advocate; • Cultivated prominent military leaders to speak out against “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” including former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General John Shalikashvili; the Army’s first female Lieutenant General, LTG Claudia Kennedy; and a Navy lawyer partially responsible for helping the Navy craft the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, Admiral John Hutson; • Secured an op-ed by Senator Alan Simpson (R-WY) calling for repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell;” • Mobilized a mass media condemnation of remarks by current Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Peter Pace defending “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” because “gays are immoral;” • Obtained a decision in Marcum v. USA before the Court of Appeals of the Armed Forces that held the Lawrence decision applied to the military and is the best application of Lawrence to date; in the military, the decision has led the Army and Navy to overturn various sodomy convictions; • Supported a law in 2004 that requires the Pentagon to provide Congress with data regarding all discharges from the military, including reason for discharge, the base where the discharge took place and demographic data about those discharged; • Co-commissioned a 2004 Urban Institute study finding there are 65,000 LGB service members on active duty, in the reservations and National Guard and 1 million gay veterans in the U.S.; the same researcher calculated at SLDN’s request that there are approximately 41,000 gay men who might join the armed forces if “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” were repealed; • Ended the practice of gay witch hunts in the armed forces; and • Assisted in the investigation and publicity surrounding the hate crime murder of PFC Barry Winchell, after attempts by the Army to cover it up. All of us at SLDN salute Dixon for his unwavering commitment to our mission, and wish him all the best in his new endeavors. And we look forward to working with Kathleen DeBold, our new interim executive director, to continue SLDN's important work to topple "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." - Steve Ralls

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Gay Men’s Chorus Takes On DA, DT

The San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus will be presenting a "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" inspired performance on Monday, April 30. From the Bay Area Reporter: The show also features the one-act "USS Metaphor," a parody of Gilbert & Sullivan's HMS Pinafore. . . . Artistic director Kathleen McGuire, and members of the SFGMC production committee, wrote "USS Metaphor," which takes jabs at the U.S. military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy. . . . The chorus will be dressed in Navy whites and will perform dance routines that "surpass anything the chorus has done before. We're extremely proud of this program, from the angles of both technical excellence and social comment," [Teddy] Witherington added. The show seems timely, given recent comments by Joint Chiefs of Staff General Peter Pace stating that gays are "immoral." The show takes place Monday, April 30 at 7 p.m. Tickets range from $17-$80, and the chorus has increased the number of lower priced tickets for the show. SFGMC is also offering a 25 percent discount to current and former service men and women. For more information or for tickets, visit http://www.sfgmc.org or call (415) 865-2787. - Steve Ralls

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More 2008 Hopefuls Call for End to Sodomy Ban

We told you earlier this week that Democratic Senator and presidential candidate Barack Obama declared his support for repeal of Article 125, the military's ban on consensual sodomy. At the time, Obama joined Dennis Kucinich, Christopher Dodd, Joe Biden and Mike Gravel in calling for an end to the law. Today, Gay City News reports that two other candidates in the '08 field have also indicated their support for repealing Article 125: "In the wake of Gay City News' story last week reporting that four of the Democratic presidential hopefuls had gone on the record in opposition to the ban on sodomy in the Uniform Code of Military Justice, the party's current frontrunners, Illinois Senator Barack Obama, New York Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, and former North Carolina Senator John Edwards told this newspaper that they too believe the policy must change. Seven of the eight contenders for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination have in the past two weeks stepped up in support of the privacy rights of gay military personnel." The paper goes on to report that, "Jin Chon, a Clinton campaign spokesperson, wrote, also via e-mail, 'During Senator Clinton's recent remarks to the Human Rights Campaign, she agreed with Justice [Anthony] Kennedy, who wrote in Lawrence v. Texas, that 'times can blind us to certain truths and later generations can see that laws once thought necessary and proper in fact serve only to oppress. As the Constitution endures, persons in every generation can invoke its principles in their own search for greater freedom.' Therefore, Sen. Clinton believes that the Lawrence decision should be extended to the military as well.' An April 18 e-mail from Kate Bedingfield, an Edwards spokeswoman, stated that the 2004 vice presidential nominee 'believes that the treatment of all service members should be based on their role in maintaining national security, not their sexual orientation. The Uniform Code of Military Justice should conform to the Supreme Court's decision in Lawrence v. Texas.'" New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson, according to Gay City News, did not directly answer questions about the sodomy provision. Among Republicans, only two candidates, Tom Tancredo and John McCain, responded to the sodomy question. Both indicated they support keeping the law as-is. Full coverage from Gay City News is online here. - Steve Ralls

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