Frontlines: The Latest from OutServe-SLDN
Tune in this evening to see SLDN client (and war vet) Austin Rooke
(pictured) and Sharra Greer
, SLDN's director of law policy, discussing the military's continued dismissal of gay and lesbian personnel. Their interview will air on Sinclair Broadcasting stations across the country later today.
To find out if there's a Sinclair station near you, click here
- Steve Ralls
You can watch last night's CNN segment, featuring SLDN, online here
. And check out Paula Zahn's interview
with dismissed Arabic linguist (and SLDN client) Stephen Benjamin, too.
Labels: in the news
05-30-07 Comment (0)
If you happened to be tuned into FOX News
on Saturday afternoon, you might have caught a segment on the network's The Big Story
about "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" and the continued dismissal
of lesbian and gay linguists. The segment featured Jason Knight
, a Hebrew linguist who just got back from a tour of duty in Kuwait, and who was recently discharged under the ban.
When my phone rang on Saturday afternoon, the FOX producer assured me that, if we were able to find a linguist to speak on-air, that person would find the show's host, Julie Banderas
(pictured), more "fair and balanced" than we might be expecting. And she was right.
On Sunday, the News Hounds blog
(motto: We watch FOX so you don't have to) had this to say about the segment:
I couldn’t believe that I was watching Fox when Banderas said “the military are in desperate need of Arabic language specialists who help with the war on terror; but dozens are being fired because they’re gay.” The feeling that I had entered into an alternate reality was reinforced when she read an e-mail from a heterosexual soldier who said that he would be “honored to be joined by a homosexual on the front line.”
Banderas then read another e-mail form a straight soldier who said that he “had no problem serving with a homosexual battle buddy so long as they were expected to perform the same as everybody else. If they can do their job well and do everything as of part of team, what does it matter what they do behind closed doors. Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness – how and where you experience these freedoms weren’t part of the bargain.” Knight noted that this e-mail was consistent with the support that he received from his peers. He said that gays in the military are taught the same values of professionalism and respect for their job and “we all do it as well as everybody else and have every right to serve our country as well as anybody else.” To this eloquent statement, Julie Banderas, Fox employee, said “absolutely.”
At any rate, considering that this is Memorial Day Weekend – a time to honor the service of those who served and continue to serve honorably – this affirmation that gays in the military also serve honorably is fitting. One small step for Fox; one very big step for those in the gay community who, like their heterosexual counterparts, wear the uniform with dignity and pride.
Thanks to News Hounds for covering the segment, and to Banderas for truly stepping forward and trying to tell the real story behind "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." You can read the full News Hounds synopsis online here
- Steve Ralls
Labels: in the news, jason knight, linguists
05-29-07 Comment (0)
The SLDN family is pausing today to remember General Tom Weinstein, who passed away on May 24. A member of SLDN's national advisory board
, General Weinstein was an outspoken, heterosexual ally of the LGBT community, and a passionate advocate for repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell"
From this morning's Washington Post obituary
"Gen. Weinstein was the principal architect of the modern military intelligence corps, his colleagues said, and was the crucial player in its expansion and professionalization. At a time when Army intelligence units were scattered under different commands, he brought them together and was responsible for the concept of intelligence and electronic warfare.
Lt. Gen. Keith Alexander, director of the National Security Agency, said Gen. Weinstein established the Army's master plan for intelligence "that set a course for the Army to have the best intelligence corps for the next decade or two. It was a tremendous jump forward."
Gen. Weinstein was also known for his commitment to talking to the troops, said Alexander, who worked for him several times. "He gave people the impression that you as a person could do anything, everybody was really gifted," Alexander said."
Our thoughts are with General Weinstein's family. He will be greatly missed.
- Steve Ralls
05-26-07 Comment (0)
Get your tickets now for Frameline31, San Francisco's International LGBT Film Festival taking place June 14-24, 2007!
As you remember
, SLDN is a proud sponsor of Semper Fi: One Marine's Journey
, one of many films being screened during the film festival.
Here's the blurb on Semper Fi
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. Then, four hijacked planes changed the course of history on September 11, 2001.
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. The story begins with him on a bare stage, wearing just white boxer shorts and his dog tags, waking up to news of the attacks. Key then leads us back in time to a conservative adolescence spent as a teen preacher with the burgeoning awareness of his sexuality. He eventually lands in the gay theater community of Los Angeles, where he shocks his friends by joining the Marines.
Stationed in Iraq, Key is confident in his decision to fulfill his love of God and country. But after “Mission Accomplished,” he sees a situation going terribly wrong. At the same time, it becomes more and more difficult to keep his sexuality a secret (especially with so many hot Iraqi men around him). He realizes that the mission isn’t working, and neither is the policy of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”
Semper Fi paints a refreshing portrait of a gay man we rarely meet and proves that patriotism, like sexuality, comes in many different packages.
And today (as long as you're a Frameline member), you can purchase your tickets for Semper Fi
(to be screened on June 23rd at 1pm) and other great films!
For non-Frameline members, general public ticket sales begin on Friday, June 1. You can purchase your tickets at Superstar Satellite video store located at 474 Castro Street (between Market and 18th Street in San Francisco), online at www.frameline.org/festival
, and by fax at 415 522 5543.
- Rebecca Sawyer
05-25-07 Comment (0)
The Cathedral of Hope is the world's largest LGBT church. Founded in 1987, the mission of the Cathedral is "to reclaim Christianity as a faith of extravagant grace, radical inclusion and relentless compassion." On Sunday, Paul will bring his powerful voice to the Cathedral with a sermon that highlights, in part, the service and sacrifice of America's lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender patriots. I was fortunate to preview the speech earlier this week, and it is an amazing tribute to those who serve our country.
If you cannot be in Dallas on Sunday, you can still watch Paul's sermon. Come back to Frontlines
beginning around noon that day, and click here
for a link to his presentation online. And join all of us at SLDN in thanking Colonel Dodd, and the 1 million+ other LGBT veterans in our country, for their service this Memorial Day weekend.
05-25-07 Comment (1)
Jason Knight speaks to a reporter in Chicago. Photo by Julie Kruse.
It was a a privilege and fun to accompany Jason Knight last week on his 2-day trip to the University of Chicago to counter General Peter Pace’s address
General Pace was invited to address the Graduate School of Business before he made his infamous remarks on gays being “immoral”.
After Pace’s comments, 1,400 students and faculty of the University of Chicago then signed a position to un-invite
him. They figured that a leader who gravely insults those who serve underneath him should not be held up to business students as a model of outstanding management practices.
When it became clear General Pace would indeed appear, three University of Chicago departments joined together to invite Jason Knight in response to Pace’s appearance. They didn’t want to silence General Pace but wanted to broaden the debate to include the views of a gay sailor who served under Pace.
When General Pace made his insulting remarks, Jason was serving in Kuwait as an openly gay sailor, out to other members of his unit. He took umbrage at Pace’s remarks, and said so in a brief letter to the Stars and Stripes. When the paper did a full article on him, the Navy began discharge proceedings against him under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”. Jason’s final discharge papers came through the day after he spoke in Chicago.
The Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations, the Divinity School, and the Center for Gender Studies at the University of Chicago pooled funds to invite Jason to respond to General Pace. He gave a talk to linguistic students about learning Hebrew at the Defense Language Institute in Monterrey, taking classes seven hours a day, five to six days a week for forty-eight weeks. This intensive training provided him with the skills to carry out simultaneous translation for the Navy.
Jason spoke again the next day on campus in “counterpoint” to General Pace’s comments, a few hours before Pace’s speech, describing his experiences as a gay sailor. He was joined by MSgt. Jean Albright
who served in the Air Force for twenty years.
Then, outside the building where General Pace gave his speech, Jason spoke with nine media outlets, including the Chicago Tribune
which originally broke the story of Pace’s remarks on gays. He reiterated his request that Pace apologize for his remarks.
It was great to spend time with Jason as he set the record “straight” about the outstanding service our gay, lesbian, and bisexual troops provide to our country despite having to live under the discriminatory “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law. The University of Chicago community learned what a waste it is for talented, skilled, highly trained service members to be “fired” by the military. The Navy has lost an outstanding linguist. Jason, however, has the skills and training the military provided him, and his whole life ahead of him.
- Julie Kruse
Labels: events, in the news, jason knight, Pace
05-24-07 Comment (0)
On June 14, the GLBT Historical Society in San Francisco will open its new exhibit
, "Out Ranks," the nation’s first historical exhibit on the experiences of gays in the military.
“Out Ranks” tracks changes in military policy and conveys the stories of GLBT veterans and peace activists from WWII to Iraq . Almost 70 years of history is told through hundreds of letters, photographs, medals, uniforms, and video footage. The opening reception on Thursday, June 14th is free and open to the public from 6pm-8pm in the GLBT Historical Society’s main gallery at 657 Mission Street , 3rd Floor.
The “Out Ranks” exhibit follows two related timelines, running from 1941 to the present. One timeline tracks American military conflicts from WWII to Iraq , focusing on the roles of GLBT personnel. The other timeline charts the evolution of the ban on openly gay service personnel. The two timelines meet in the center of the exhibit in the present time as GLBT service personnel fight their rights even as they defend our country in both the military and peace movements.
Visitors to the exhibit are encouraged to walk between the timelines to explore when policies on gays in the military change and why, when and why discharges of GLBT servicemembers rise and fall, how social and political issues (such as AIDS, marriage, homophobia, and privacy) affect the military debate and how military service has affected the gay rights movement over time.
SLDN is proud to support the "Out Ranks" exhibit, which also features a profile of SLDN advisory board member Vince Patton
, retired Master Chief Petty Officer of the Coast Guard.
05-23-07 Comment (0)
At a speaking event last Friday
at the University of Chicago, Marine General Peter Pace
, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was asked about "Don't Ask, Don't Tell."
Here's the snippet from the Chicago Maroon
, the University of Chicago student newspaper:
“It is important for a nation to give all who want to serve the opportunity to serve.” The policy prohibits anyone who has engaged in homosexual activity from serving in the armed forces and also prohibits homosexuals or bisexuals from disclosing their sexual orientation. “Our armed forces are well served by diversity in many respects,” Pace said.
Now before you start thinking that Gen. Pace has reformed his ways and is now calling for repeal of the gay ban, keep reading:
“But we also have the law of our land. It allows all citizens who want to serve to have the opportunity. But as with many parts of military life, there are issues of conformity. I do support the law of the land because it does allow those who want to serve the opportunity to do so,” he said to applause from conference delegates.
On the one hand, he seems to say that the contributions of lesbian, gay and bisexual troops are important, but, on the other hand, he seems to condone discrimination simply because it's the law of the land...
Underneath that carefully crafted language of celebrating diversity is the pervasive bigotry that provides support for discriminatory laws like "Don't Ask, Don't Tell."
And luckily, it's not up to Gen. Pace to repeal the law; it's up to Congress. If, unlike Gen. Pace, you truly
believe that our "armed forces are well served by diversity in many respects," then call on your Member of Congress
to repeal the ban now!
- Rebecca Sawyer
Labels: Congress, in the news, Pace
05-22-07 Comment (1)
"Well it is official. I got my new DD214 this morning with its gleaming RE4 code and Homosexual Statement."
(The RE4 code means Jason will never again be able to serve in the armed forces, and ensures that the Navy won't accidentally call him up for duty again.)
The U.S. military has just lost another dedicated, talented service member to "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." Every day, another two service members are dismissed under the ban, bringing the total to date to more than 11,000. They include linguists (like Jason), helicopter pilots and combat engineers, among others. And most, like Jason, have the respect and support of their fellow troops.
Labels: jason knight
05-21-07 Comment (1)
SLDN board member Cholene Espinoza
(pictured) isn't just a tireless crusader for repeal of the military's gay ban . . . and she isn't just the 2nd woman ever to fly a U2 reconnaisance mission . . . she's also an outspoken advocate for rebuilding the gulf coast, which is still recovering from the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
On Monday, LOGO
will present "Giving Back," part of the Be Real series. This week's episode is a look at Cholene's work, along with her partner Ellen, to build a community center in Mississippi. Cholene also write about her experience in Through the Eye of the Storm
, a critically acclaimed book about her time on the coast following the devastation of Katrina.
Tune in to LOGO
on Monday, and join us in saluting Cholene and Ellen's amazing work to make life a little better along America's gulf coast.
05-19-07 Comment (0)
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