Frontlines: The Latest from OutServe-SLDN

Honoring the History-Makers

This year, the GLBT Historical Society is paying special tribute to the men and women who have served in our nation's military. SLDN is proud to be an honoree at this year's Historial Society gala, and honored to join with the Society in recognizing those who have sacrificed so much for our country. Now, you can be part of that, too. The GLBT Historical Society is offering an opportunity for the public to pay tribute to someone who has served in the armed forces by placing ads in this year's program book, or by participating in the dog tag or 'Wall of Rememberance' programs. The Dog Tag Program: The dog tag is an instantly recognizable military symbol. In keeping with the theme for this year's gala, you may purchase a virtual dog tag which will be printed in clusters in the program. These tags are intended for you to honor the military service of a friend, family member or other loved one, either currently serving, or who who has served in the past. Whether it is a sister currently serving in Iraq or a grandfather who stormed the shores of Normandy, this is an excellent opportunity to give thanks for their courage and selflessness. (In respect of individual privacy and recognition of certain current policies of the military, the program will clearly indicate that the inclusion of a name here does not imply the sexual orientation of the person being honored.) The Wall of Rememberance: We will also be including an opportunity to remember those who have made the ultimate sacrifice - giving their lives in active duty. Inspired by the Vietnam Memorial, the Wall of Remembrance will be a place to record a name, a quote or brief personal reminiscence. These entries will be featured among the names of celebrated and undersung heroes of our community gathered from the GLBT Historical Society archives. (As with the dog tags, the program will clearly indicate that the inclusion of a name here does not imply the sexual orientation of the person being honored.) For more information on these unique opportunities to honor someone in your life, click here.

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It’s in the Way He Walks

The Journal of Personality and Social Psychology has released a new study that looks at 'gaydar,' that elusive quality by which some people seem to be able to pick out the LGBT members of a crowd. What they've found is that 'gaydar' seems to be all about body type and motion, and specifically about the (yes) rear-end movements of the subject being observed. "112 undergraduate observers were shown videos of the backsides of the volunteers as they walked at various speeds on the treadmill," the Journal reports. "The observers were able to determine the volunteers' sexual orientation with an overall rate of accuracy that exceeded chance, even though they could not see the volunteers' faces or the details of their clothing. Interestingly, the casual observers were much more accurate in judging the orientation of males than females; they correctly categorized the sexual orientation of men with more than 60 percent accuracy, but their categorization of women did not exceeded chance." Interesting. But what does it have to do with "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" you ask? Well, as Bilerico.com explains, the study's author actually suggests that the findings may prove that the military's ban is completely irrelevant. "Studies like ours are raising questions about the value of the military's 'don't ask, don't tell' policy," the author said. "If casual observers can determine sexual orientation with minimal information, then the value in concealing this information certainly appears questionable. Given that we all appear to be able to deduce this information to some degree with just a glance, more comprehensive policies may be required to protect gays against discrimination based on their sexual orientation." So perhaps a soldier's sexual orientation is pretty difficult to hide anyway. And if it is, what's the use in trying to cover up a characteristic - especially one that has nothing to do with job performance - when it's all given away in the way he walks? - Steve Ralls

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Craig’s Hypocrisy on Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell

Sunday's Washington Post featured a guest commentary by William Saletan about former Senator Larry Craig (pictured), hypocrisy and "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." From Saletan's column: Poor Larry Craig. He's being held to the same standard of sexual conduct he imposed on the U.S. armed forces. Fourteen years ago, in his first term as a Republican senator from Idaho, Craig helped enact the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy. The Air Force, for instance, now says that any airman will be discharged if he "has engaged in, attempted to engage in, or solicited another to engage in a homosexual act." According to the report filed by the police officer who arrested Craig at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport in June, Craig stood outside the officer's bathroom stall for two minutes, repeatedly looked at the officer "through the crack in the door," sat in the stall next to the officer, tapped his foot and gradually "moved his right foot so that it touched the side of my left foot . . . within my stall area." Craig proceeded to "swipe his hand under the stall divider for a few seconds" three times, palm up, using the hand farthest from that side of Craig's stall. Most of these gestures, the officer said, are known pickup signals. ___ Indeed, as SLDN pointed out here at Frontlines last week, Craig was an ardent supporter of the military's ban on gay service members even in the days following his arrest in Minnesota. His letter to an active duty constituent made it seem as if he even thought openly gay troops would be a danger to straight service members. Craig wrote that, "The armed forces exist to wage war. It is unacceptable to risk the lives of American soldiers and sailors merely to accommodate the sexual lifestyles of certain individuals." He also noted that, "I don’t believe the military should be a place for social experimentation." Yet, as Saletan points out, "I'd rather live, let live and tell the guy waving his hand under the stall to buzz off. But that's not the standard Craig has applied to others. Any gay soldier, sailor, airman or Marine who admitted to doing what Craig has admitted would, at a minimum, lose his job for violating 'don't ask, don't tell.' In fact, many have been kicked out for less." Indeed. Bleu Copas, Margaret Witt, Randy Miller and Alex Nicholson are just a few of the thousands of service members dismissed under the law Craig so ardently championed. If former Senator Craig has had a change of heart about the matter in the past few days, it can be best described as "too little, too late." For, during his time in Congress, Craig was a leading proponent of a policy that he, himself, was ultimately subject to, in some small way. Now, perhaps, he understands the pain of losing a job you love simply because of who you are, or who others think you might be. - Steve Ralls

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“We Can’t Be That Desperate.”

How's this for Army Strong? Spc. Shawn Stacy Sapp, 38, is back on duty as a helicopter mechanic at Fort Hood, Texas, even though a judge in Florida placed him on probation and ordered him to be under supervision. Why? Sapp is a convicted sex offender. But he was deemed "retainable in the U.S. Army" even after being found guilty of lewd and lascivious conduct with a teenage girl. From Military.com: A captain and a first sergeant at Fort Hood who were involved in the decision to retain Sapp didn't return phone calls Monday afternoon. Sapp will be supervised by the Texas Department of Corrections under an arrangement with Florida, Florida corrections spokeswoman Jo Ellyn Rackleff said. Circuit Judge Robert Foster ordered that Sapp not be deployed overseas, Rackleff said. Sapp was in Fernandina Beach on leave when his crime occurred in 2003, Rackleff said. She said he was arrested in Texas in 2005 after returning from overseas deployment and extradited to Florida. He was in jail for nearly two years before reaching the plea deal, Sacks said. Initially he was charged with one count of lewd and lascivious conduct and four counts of sexual battery involving a minor. Prosecutors dropped the sexual battery counts under the plea agreement. [A judge] sentenced him July 17 to 689 days time served and three years of probation, and Sapp was required to register as a sex offender. Florida's sex offender registry lists his location as Bell County, Texas, and says he notified the Florida Department of Law Enforcement about that address Aug. 10. Sacks said Sopp presented a letter to the court in early August from Capt. Chad Corrigan, Sapp's commanding officer at Fort Hood. "Upon review of the charges ... Shawn S. Sapp has been determined retainable in the U.S. Army," Corrigan wrote. "Service member is still on active duty." _____ Assistant State Attorney Jonathan Sacks put it best, telling the media that "I just find it hard to believe that they would have convicted sex offenders in the military. We can't be that desperate." But apparently we are. Other media reports have shown an alarming increase in the number of recruits with criminal backgrounds, including felony convictions. The military, it seems, is issuing waiver after waiver to allow those who wouldn't normally meet enlistment standards to sign up for duty. And yet, the welcome mat is still not out for lesbian and gay Americans who want to serve. Sex offenders on duty and patriotic gays turned away. Is that what they mean by 'Army strong?' - Steve Ralls

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NLGJA Student Coverage of DA, DT

The National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association's annual convention has just wrapped up in San Diego, and on Friday morning, SLDN communications associate Jason Knight was part of a morning plenary about the military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" ban on lesbian, gay and bisexual service members. Prior to the panel, Jason (who is a former Navy linguist) sat down with students attending the convention to talk about the military's ban, his own experience, and the campaign to lift the ban. You can read NLGJA's interview with Jason by clicking here. (The story appears on page three.) - Steve Ralls

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