Frontlines: The Latest from OutServe-SLDN

Honor Every Veteran

As Veteran's Day approaches, I look back at my recent experience at my 10-Year West Point Reunion which occurred a month ago. My partner and I had a great time meeting friends and old classmates and catching up with each other professionally and personally. It was great to see that the so many classmates and friends were supportive about our presence. I also spoke to many of them at the evening banquet about my volunteer work to repeal Don't Ask, Don't Tell and the progress that has taken place over the last few years and the number of Congressional Representatives who have decided to co-sponsor HR-1246. It was great to see that many of my classmates not only supported our presence at the reunion, but they stated that DADT was "a ridiculous policy" and "long overdue for repeal". Others stressed that it was a human issue that needs to be addressed. The next day at the parade, to my surprise I saw the same people not dressed in civilian attire, but they were in there military uniforms. They were Captains and Majors, mid level officers who commanded soldiers and who were dedicated to the principles of Duty, Honor, Country. I was confident knowing that they were committed to serving another 10 years or more and a rewarding thought knowing that these leaders were attune to the changing views that gays and lesbians should serve and serve openly. The Reunion Weekend left a lasting positive impression knowing that some of these members of the Long Gray Line will one day be the Army's future Generals. I'm convinced that the time is near where not only will every Veteran be honored but every service member in uniform is honored regardless of their sexual preference and identity. On Veteran's Day, take a moment to think of ALL Service Members and the challenges they face every day. One day some of them will have a few less challenges to face everyday and they will take a moment to thank us. -Former Army First Lieutenant Steve Boeckels You may have missed: Monday - Former Marine Sergeant Brian Fricke Tuesday - Prior US Army Major Jeff McGowan

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Honor Every Veteran

Just about everyone fantasizes about being a hero at some point in their life. Whether it’s a sports hero, or a character from a movie, or one of countless other varieties, we all want to feel the adulation that comes from adventure, achievement or just simply being the center of attention. Being a hero also implies that you may just be slightly better than everyone else - that you’re special. Heroes, you see, test themselves to the limit, and pass! Being a hero implies purity and redemption born of self-immolation for a cause. Heroes are true to a higher calling and therefore seem to have greater integrity, at least that’s what we hope and would like to believe. When you are declared a hero you are more than accepted - you are imitated. You become the ideal that others strive to be. If you are a hero in America, that’s the kind of treatment you get. Except of course, if you are one of the sixty-five thousand or so current lesbian, gay, or bisexual members of our Armed Forces who serve in silence. If America decided to honor gay and lesbian service members as heroes, which they undoubtedly are, then they would become the stuff of dreams and inspiration. Kids everywhere might, god forbid, actually look up to them and want to be like them. As a society, we might just begin to focus on who we are as individuals and not rely on worn-out stereotypes to choose our relationships. Lamentably, America instead chooses to lie to itself, offering all sorts of reasons why gays and lesbians can’t be hero’s in the service of their country, most of which make no sense or are thinly veiled bigotry. Vast swaths of Mr. and Mrs. Straight continue to quiver, behind their little white picket fences and in the sweat-stained pews of their churches, at the thought of anyone not like them being honored or emulated. They would rather engage in a grand lie about what the gay community is, so that their limited world does not implode under the weight of its own hypocrisy. Honoring every man and woman, who serves our country, means telling the truth. They exist. They do their jobs well. They are brave beyond belief. They are every shape, color, size and ethnicity possible. They are heroes and I love them. -Jeff McGowan, prior US Army Major You may have missed: Monday - Former Marine Sergeant Brian Fricke

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Honor Every Veteran

This is the first of a week-long series. SLDN will be feature a new blog entry, every day, from a veteran about what it means to Honor Every Veteran. The series will end November 11th, Veterans Day. To Honor Every Veteran is a constant unconscious deed as well as a deliberate action. Every time an American chooses to go to work to provide for their families, every time they choose to take a day off and simply do nothing, they execute that choice freely and without intervention from foreign or domestic governments. When they speak their minds for or against our current leaders and execute their right to the freedom of speech, they honor every veteran. Every time they embrace their freedom of religion or from religion - or simply buy a newspaper or gather as a group - they honor every veteran. The sacrifices made over the decades to preserve our flag are not in vain so long as we execute our rights as humans and as Americans to live freely. Veterans come in all shapes, sizes, colors, genders, sexual preferences and religions – that’s a fact, not an opinion. And it's not a choice whether or not to honor our American veterans . . . by living on American soil, you do it everyday. It shouldn't be left to the subconscious however; we should make a point to look at our Flag and remember those who served. They deserve our gratitude as individuals and as a free nation. When you meet a vet along your path, remember the selfless sacrifice they made and the ultimate sacrifice they were willing to make on your behalf. We love our country, it's ethos, its lands and its people. We accept that life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness is a fundamental right to men and women, and hold that ideal in the highest value. We veterans hold it above our own lives as individuals …. and many join our nation's armed cervices for that very reason alone. Honor Every Veteran . . . live and help others to live free - Former Marine Sergeant Brian Fricke

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Clinton Reminds Gay Vet in Iowa that She Supports Repeal

Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY) told a gay veteran in Iowa who was dismissed under "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" that she continues to support repeal of the law that bans lesbian, gay and bisexual service members from our armed forces. According to the Des Moines Register, "Nick Brown, 23, waited outside of Clinton’s Polk County field office at 1900 Ingersoll Ave. around 5 p.m. . . . to catch her as she greeted and shook hands with supporters." Brown "pleaded" with Clinton, the Register reports, to endorse repeal of the law. "I think it needs to be repealed," Clinton, who is running for the Democratic presidential nomination, said to him, noting that she has previously made such statements. "Brown said he was forced to leave the military in 2003 after Army officials discovered he had a profile on a Web site designed for gay users," the papernoted. "I wanted to serve my country but I couldn’t because they don’t let gay men serve in the military," Brown said. Clinton, who has been a longtime supporter of repeal, seems to have won the vet over. He plans to vote for Clinton, Brown said after the event. As the 2008 race heats up, there are a growing number of Americans anxious for a commander-in-chief who wants to lift the ban. And with all of the Democratic candidates calling for repeal, those who support open service have a long list of candidates to throw their support behind (unless they happen to be Republicans, as the GOP line-up has unanimously supported the status quo). - Steve Ralls

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Decision ‘07

If you can't wait until 2008 to cast a vote, we have good news for you! You can get an early start by voting for the Best LGBT Blog online . . . and two friends of Frontlines are nominated in this year's contest. The Bilerico Project, where I blog, is nominated for the first time, and Pam's House Blend, the champ two years running (and where you might have caught live-blogging of SLDN's national dinner this year) is also on the list. And you can vote once every 24 hours (kinda like in Florida!) for your favorite. So click here to cast your vote . . . and come back tomorrow and vote again! - Steve Ralls

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Just Look at the Numbers

The Associated Press is reporting that Army General William S. Wallace has confirmed the U.S. Army will begin its recruiting year with fewer volunteers signed up for basic training than in any year since 1973. In most years the Army begins it yearly recruiting efforts with about 25% of its recruitment goal already met, but waiting to be shipped off to basic training. This year, that "delayed entry pool" measures just 9% percent of the 2008 recruitment goal. Gen. Wallace attributed the decline in the number of pre-signed recruits to the Army's decision last July to offer a $20,000 "quick ship" bonus to recruits willing to leave for basic training by the end of September. It is unacceptable that the Army is spending $20,000 of our tax dollars to bribe enlistee's to sign up. Especially when there is a pool of able bodied Gay-Americans willing to help the Army meet its recruitment goals at no additional cost! "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" is unnecessarily hurting America's ability to fill its ranks and secure its defense, and why? Allowing the bigotry of a small minority to dictate the national security policies of the United States is dangerous, and if you don't believe me....just look at the numbers. -Victor Maldonado
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A. Lott : Like Superman

Today I learned that one of my heroes in the movement to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” will receive an award from the Rhode Island Psychological Association for his many years of dedicated advocacy on that issue. That hero is Dr. Al Lott (pictured), Professor Emeritus at the University of Rhode Island and far and away SLDN’s most active volunteer in the Ocean State. Heroes come in all shapes and sizes, and to look at Al Lott, you wouldn’t peg him for a hero. Al is an older gentleman, not a whole lot taller than me, with a kind face and a warm smile. When I took a road trip to do some grassroots organizing in the northeast last year, he and his lovely wife gave my daughter cookies and milk in their kitchen while Al and I sat at the table strategizing. In his corduroy blazer with the patches on the elbow, “superman” isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when you look at him. But Al is a lot like superman. With dogged determination he has pursued the goal of equality for LGBT service members, successfully advocating before the University of Rhode Island faculty senate for a resolution calling for repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” meeting with Rhode Island’s Congressional delegation and their staffs to present the facts and figures on why repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” is good public policy, manning Pride tables and coordinating volunteers in Rhode Island for SLDN, writing opinion pieces and coordinating local media to educate people about the need for repeal. Every time I meet with Al I tell him this, and I will say it again: If we had someone like Al Lott in each of the 50 states, I’d be out of a job by now. Many people may not know that Al is a World War II veteran. He fought for freedom before I was a gleam in my mother’s eye. I felt honored when Al chose to spend his 80th birthday with SLDN on Capitol Hill for one on our annual lobby days. So on this occasion of Al’s receipt of the Musiker-Merenda award, I just want to say congratulations and thank you to Al Lott. You’re one of my heroes, and you inspire me. I hope when I am 80 years old, I’ll still be fighting as hard as you are. - Sharon Alexander

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A. Lott to Celebrate

It is always a pleasent surprise to find out that a friend of yours is being honored with an award. So this morning we were very pleased to learn that longtime SLDN friend and supporter, Dr. Albert J. Lott, has been awarded the Rhode Island Psychological Association's Musiker-Merenda award for significant contributions to mental health because of his work to help repeal the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" law. A professor and social justice advocate for over 50 years, Al joined the faculty at the University of Rhode Island (URI) in 1969 and quickly became a pioneer in the field of women’s and men’s studies. His course on "Men and Masculinity" is still taught at URI today. In 1996 Dr. Lott retired from teaching and has since dedicated much of his time to helping lift the ban on open service Congratulations Al on this wonderful honor! With your continued support we will soon see the day when every member of the armed forces can serve honestly, openly, and with the dignity that is their due. -Victor Maldonado
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