Frontlines: The Latest from OutServe-SLDN
It's been a while - too long, really - since we last checked in with Elaine Donnelly
of the Center for Military Readiness. You remember Elaine: she was the one who blamed
retired General John Shalikashvili's stroke for his support of repeal . . . who inaccurately told The Washington Times
that "even Democrats" don't support legislation to lift the ban . . . and who slammed
Congressman Gary Ackerman (D-NY) for suggesting that gay Americans may have an important contribution to make to our country.
So we decided to check in on Elaine, and see what her newest rant might be. Turns out, she's furious
about "San Francisco values."
Referring to Congresswoman Ellen Tauscher's leadership
in the campaign to repeal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," Donnelly told Cybercast News Service
that, "We don't really want to see legislation passed that would reflect the San Francisco agenda of Ellen Tauscher."
Hooray for values! Let's see how Elaine's 'values' stack up against Congresswoman Tauscher's, shall we?
Tauscher: 3 trips to Iraq
to visit the troops; 5 trips, overall, to the Middle East
of the House Armed Services Committee, on which she is Chairman of the Strategic Forces Subcommittee
Has "experienced two
'trap' landings on the carriers USS John F. Kennedy and USS Kitty Hawk (without so much as a tussle of that perfectly coiffed 'do)
Tauscher: 6 terms in the House
, representing California's 10th Congressional district
Never elected to anything (thankfully for us)
So what 'values,' exactly, do they have out in the city by the bay? Maybe it's American
values (79% of the public supports repeal
); or military
values (73% of personnel say they're comfortable around gays
); or even conservative
values (a "large majority" of Republicans support
lifting the ban, too).
So if Elaine wants to talk about 'values,' let's have that debate. Congresswoman Tauscher has stood up for a strong national defense; equal opportunity in our armed forces; and supporting the troops by putting the best and brightest on the job. Meanwhile, Elaine keeps arguing against women and gays in the military.
Is discrimination really the 'value' we want our government to embody? Or is Elaine just more out of touch than ever before?
- Steve Ralls
Labels: Congress, elaine donnelly, in the news
06-29-07 Comment (0)
On 18 May, with the help of LoveandPride.com, I launched a new jewelry and accessory line called “Fly Naked”. The name of the line came from a dare that we all had in flight school…to get naked on one of your solo flights and to actually fly naked. Beyond that, to “fly naked” was something we all reminded each other to do in life…that is to be the best person you could be, with no excuses or apologies to anyone, as long as you were doing your best for yourself and others around you.
Because LoveandPride.com gives a percentage of all of their jewelry purchases to charitable LGBT causes, they were a perfect partner for me and the Fly Naked line. 10% of the gross proceeds of every purchase is donated to SLDN.
After serving in silence myself, for nine years, it means so much to me to be able to give to SLDN, an organization that helped me through many personal and scary trials while I was serving on Active Duty in the U.S. Air Force under Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.
Last week, I hosted a party in San Francisco to spread the word about the continued ban, Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, and how Fly Naked is one of the ways we can contribute to stopping all of this nonsense, including the unfair representation and treatment of LGBT servicemembers. I was so happy to see so many faces light up at the mention of an end to the continued ban. I became more proud by the minute as veteran after veteran approached me with stories that matched my own from my days in the service.
I will be hosting another party for Fly Naked to spread the word even further on July 19th in New York at Splash Bar. SLDN members in the NYC area are welcome!
Visit the Fly Naked with Reichen Collection at www.loveandpride.com/sldn
06-29-07 Comment (0)
There has been much ado in recent days about a new poll of Republican voters
and their views on LGBT issues. Granted, there is some very
good news among the numbers, including the revelation that 77% of Republicans do not believe an employer should be able to fire an employee simply because they happen to be lesbian or gay . . .
. . . unless that employer happens to be our nation's largest, and the employee happens to be a member of the United States military.
Among Republican voters, this newest poll suggests, only 49% - not even half - support repealing "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." An astonishing 42% say the ban should remain the law of the land.
Granted, it's a good
thing to have 49% of the GOP on our side, but we should have even more Republican support for repeal. Lifting the ban enhances military readiness, allows our armed forces to recruit among the best and brightest and gets the government out of the bedroom . . . a long-time core principle of conservative values.
Some other polls
have indicated that Republican support for repeal is even greater than suggested in this newest survey. According to a May 2005 poll from The Boston Globe,
“Large majorities of Republicans, regular churchgoers, and even people with negative attitudes toward gays think gays and lesbians should be allowed to serve openly in the military.” So let's hope this newest data is undercount of the true support that's out there.
- Steve Ralls
Labels: in the news, polls
06-29-07 Comment (0)
All of us at SLDN are proud to announce the arrival of the newest member of our family: Isabel Bea Alexander, who arrived on Saturday. Isabel is home resting with her very tired mom, Sharon
(SLDN's deputy director of policy) and proud dad Nick.
From Nick's email on Sunday:
"I'm very pleased to announce that Isabel Bea Alexander decided to join us last night, a week after her due date. 8 lbs 6 oz, 21.5 inches, and a full head of hair. Mom and baby are well, and Zoe is thrilled to be a big sister."
Congratulations to Sharon, Nick and new big sister Zoe!
06-28-07 Comment (0)
SLDN client and former U.S. Army sergeant Pepe Johnson, recently appeared on Univision's Spanish language news program "Aqui y Ahora" (Here and Now), to discuss his 2003 discharge under "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." Unfortunately Pepe's story is not unique; however the fact that he has taken his story to Spanish speaking media is noteworthy.
In a wide ranging, 10 minute interview, Johnson shared his story of how in 2001 he was honored by his commanding officers at Ft. Sill, OK with the Soldier of the Year Award, but was kicked out of the service less than two years later for being gay.
Johnson's story is an important part of a larger piece on the history of "Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell" that includes footage of SLDN's 2007 Lobby Days rally and a heartwarming interview with Lois Alva, mother of wounded Iraq War Hero Eric Alva.
By 2008 it is estimated that nearly 10,000,000 Hispanics will vote in the Presidential election
, accounting for nearly 7% of all votes cast. Despite these significant numbers, it often seems that issues such as “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” are not explained as fully or as often to Hispanics audiences.
Appearances, like Johnson’s remind us all that “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” is a civil rights issue and knows no linguistic or cultural boundaries, gay Latinos are just as likely to be kicked out of the service as their gay Asian, Anglo and African-American colleagues. Gay is gay and discrimination is discrimination….period.
Pepe Johnson and Univision remind us all that “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” is an equal opportunity discriminator that affects men and women of all classes and cultures.
Labels: 2008, Lobby Day
06-28-07 Comment (0)
On July 23rd, the Democratic contenders for the White House will come together for another debate in South Carolina. But this time, you
get the ask the questions.
Host network CNN is asking Americans to load up questions
, via video, to YouTube.
This is the perfect opportunity for veterans impacted by "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" to be part of the national conversation about lifting the ban. So . . . get out your video camera and join the debate
! Be creative . . . compelling . . . and unexpected.
For more information, visit the official YouTube debate page
(And look for information soon about posting video questions for the Republican
debate, scheduled for September 17 in Florida.)
- Steve Ralls
06-22-07 Comment (0)
On Monday, Showtime premieres Semper Fi: One Marine's Journey
, based on the experiences of SLDN client Jeff Key.
The film, which repeats throughout the week on Showtime, has received rave reviews for its wrenching portrayal of life under "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," and its unflinching look at the war in Iraq.
Bay Area Reporter recently wrote that
"Framed around Key's direct address to the camera, excerpts from his one-man play, and recollections of family and friends from Alabama and LA, Semper Fi
draws on the pivotal two months Key spent on active duty in Iraq, his journals, photos and video of smiling Iraqi kids, and finally the sight of a med-evac chopper airlifting him back home to treat a non-combat-related injury."
You can read this morning's Washington Blade
interview with Key here
. And be sure to tune into Showtime, beginning Monday, to see Semper Fi
- Steve Ralls
06-22-07 Comment (1)
News coverage of the campaign to repeal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" continues, with great new media coverage this morning.
Agence France Presse takes another look
at the continued dismissal of lesbian and gay Arabic lingusits. Their story includes an interview with SLDN client Bleu Copas as well as insights from an active duty SLDN client who specializes in Arabic.
This morning's Seattle Post Intelligencer
has a great op-ed column
opinion writer Marianne Means. "We have learned a great deal about what it means to be gay in the past two decades," Means wrrites. "It is not a moral 'choice.' It is who you are. And that doesn't mean you are a danger to your country and can't be a good soldier, if that's what moves you."
The Austin American-Statesman
also takes a look at repeal efforts
this morning, and the recent announcement by former Congressman Bob Barr that he, too, supports lifting the ban.
Chicago's LGBT weekly, Windy City Times sits down with
SLDN advisory board member RADM Alan Steinman, USPHS/USCG (Ret.) for a preview of today's salute to LGBT veterans in that city.
And SLDN makes our debut today on HuffingtonPost.com as well, with a blog posting
about the Brave New Foundation's Lift the Ban
project, and the impact of continuing to dismiss qualified language experts who happen to be gay.
"Don't Ask, Don't Tell" is on the front pages again, and the country is engaged in a vigorous conversation about lifting the ban. If your local paper is covering the issue, let us know! Leave your feedback in the comments section below.
Labels: in the news
06-21-07 Comment (0)
If you are in the Chicago area tomorrow afternoon and want to show your support for a repeal of the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, stop by Daley Plaza between 12 noon and 1 p.m. to hear from Rear Admiral Alan M. Steinman
, MD USPHS/USCG (Ret.), one of the country's highest ranking, openly gay military officers. He will be joined by Tammy Duckworth, Director of Veteran’s Affairs for the State of Illinois and former Iraq War veteran.
To find out more about “With Justice for All,” Chicago’s salute to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender veterans and service members, click here
Labels: Chicago, Pride, veterans
06-20-07 Comment (0)
Maine's two Republican Senators, Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins, are suggesting it might be time for Congress to re-visit "Don't Ask, Don't Tell."
From Bangor Daily News
"Maine’s two Republican senators are willing to consider a change. Sen. Susan Collins said Congress should re-examine the policy and that the review 'should assess the impact of the policy, the demands on our military forces, the challenges of instituting major policy changes during wartime, and the input provided by our military leaders.'"
"Sen. Olympia Snowe said it might be time for a review and that Congress 'must carefully evaluate and hear from the military commanders to determine what is in the best interests of our armed forces and our brave men and women in uniform.'"
That's encouraging news, especially considering the disappointing response
from Republican presidential candidates at their recent debate. Now, if only the 2008 crowd would listen to their colleagues in Congress.
Snowe and Collins get it - as do Christopher Shays
(R-CT), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen
(R-FL) and Wayne Gilchrest
(R-MD): Building a strong national defense, by recruiting among the best and brightest regardless of sexual orientation, isn't a Republican or Democratic thing. It's a national security thing. And whether you're in Maine or Manhattan (yes, Rudy), you're safer with qualified people on the job, be they gay or straight.
- Steve Ralls
Labels: Congress, maine
06-20-07 Comment (3)
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