Frontlines: The Latest from OutServe-SLDN
Girl meets girl, girl falls in love with girl, girl loses her military career.
Wait, that's not how that's supposed to go.
This Sunday on The L Word, Captain Tasha Williams was discharged from the Armed Forces for violation of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." It sucks for Tasha, who loved being a soldier and excelled at her job. And it sucks for the United States Army, who can ill afford to lose her.
Who knows? Maybe next week on The L Word a fictional Congress will finally repeal this stupid "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" law so that brave and honorable service members like Tasha can serve without being forced to hide who they are.
On TV, the writers and producers can make their fantasy Congress do whatever they want. In real life, everyday people like us have to keep the pressure on Congress to repeal this wasteful, discriminatory, unnecessary law by passing the Military Readiness Enhancement Act.
Next week is SLDN's sixth annual Lobby Day. SLDN supporters will be flooding Capitol Hill with our message of military strength and equality under the law. If you're in the DC area or can make the trip, join us on Friday March 7 for Lobby Day.
The Rally to Repeal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" is happening on Friday March 7 at 12:30 in front of the Capitol, and it's going to be hot. Come take an hour to raise your voice in protest of this wasteful, mean law. Rally for the day when no American will have to lie about who they are as a condition of military service.
If you or someone you care about is serving under "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," know that SLDN is here for you. Please call us for free legal help.
Tasha's trial was dramatized, sure, but was more or less a good look at how the military is forced to investigate and discharge good troops because of Congress's bad law. One particular exchange kicked me in the gut, though, beyond the fact that a great soldier was getting kicked out just for being queer.
So, you're a lesbian, Miss Piezecki?
Last time I checked.
Well, last time I checked, Alice is bisexual. Far be it from me to tell other bisexual people what words to use or how to identify, but given how rampant biphobia is in our community I was very disappointed that The L Word chose to continue a damaging trend of erasing the lives of bisexual people. Hurting our own ain't cool, folks.
I'm looking forward to seeing what's in store next for Tasha and the woman she loves. Looking forward to seeing what's next for Shane and Molly too. And don't even get me started on Bette and Tina. The drama never seems to end, huh?
Labels: guest blogger, the l word
02-29-08 Comment (1)
The quickest way to get somewhere is to ask someone who has already been there for directions.
That simple idea lies at the heart of an important new conference being held in two weeks at the Georgetown University Law Center -- what can Americans learn from our allies who already allow gays and lesbians to serve openly in their militaries?
The event, which features active or retired military personnel from Australia, Canada, Great Britain, and Israel, is a rare opportunity for people to hear an international perspective on the current U.S. “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy.
What:Conference on Sexual Orientation and Military Preparedness - An International Perspective
When: March 12, 2008 from 6-8pm
Where: Georgetown University Law Center -- 12th Floor, Gewirz Building, 120 F Street, N.W.
Labels: community events, foreign militaries
02-28-08 Comment (0)
Why is it that whenever I speak of William F. Buckley, I feel the need to pull out all of my ten-cent words? The man was arrogant, insufferable, intransigent, chronically in error, intelligent, urbane....and ultimately sublime.
Say what you will about this man -- and many people will -- Buckley was a true life original.
Today's Washington Post recounts
many of his exploits in his obituary. Born into wealth and privilege, Buckley became the voice of American conservatism in the 1950's and 60's before going on to found the National Review and host the TV news program, "Firing Line." An author, yachtsman and failed New York City mayoral candidate, Buckley was at heart a brawler - neatly showcased in this clip
from his classic 1968 debate with Gore Vidal.
While his opinions were antagonistic to those of many Americans, including most people reading this blog, it can be said with sure unanimity that there was no one quite like William F. Buckley.
02-28-08 Comment (1)
Many readers have been closely following the story of Army Sergeant Darren Manzella
, the openly gay Army medic who 'came out' in December during an interview with 60 Minutes
As we reported in late December
, Manzella returned home from Kuwait (just in time to spend the holidays with his family), and later reported back to Texas for duty. Now, more than two months after his interview aired on CBS, Sergeant Manzella tells Ambiente magazine, in a new interview
, that he's still serving in the Army, and still receiving support from his colleagues.
Continue reading Darren Manzella on Coming Out, Speaking Up . . . and Staying In at Bilerico.com . . .
Labels: bilerico, Darren Manzella, other blogs, sldn clients, SLDN on 60 Minutes
02-27-08 Comment (0)
The 80th Annual Oscar telecast may have been a bit of a snooze for some, but for eagle eyed observers there was a moment of high irony when it came to the presentation
of the Oscar for Best Documentary Short.
The award, presented via satellite link by a group of American service members in Iraq, went to the filmmakers behind Freeheld
, a short film about New Jersey police lieutenant Laurel Hester's, who after being diagnosed with cancer, successfully fought to win pension survivorship benefits for her partner, Stacie Andree.
Laurel Hester's battle to provide for her partner after she passed away is exactly the same battle which Americans are fighting when they call for a repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." The ban on gays in the military is not just about keeping someone's sexual orientation a secret -- it is about treating Gay Americans as second class citizens, it is about denying their partner health insurance, it is about not allowing them to name their partner as an emergency contact, and it is about denying the children of their partnerships day care and educational opportunities.
"Don't Ask, Don't Tell" infects every corner of a gay service member's life, forcing them at every turn to ask the question, "If I tell the truth will I loose my job, my benefits, and my career?"
This is no way to treat men and women who voluntarily offer to fight and protect our nation. It is no way to recruit the best and brightest into the military, and it is no way to retain well trained troops with mission critical skills and convince them to make a career out of the service. "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" fails on all of these fronts and, as a result, puts America's national security interests at stake.
We congratulate Cynthia Wade and Vanessa Ross, the filmmakers behind this important film, and offer our sincerest sympathies to Stacie Andree, who lost her partner Laurel to cancer in February of 2006. But the principles which Laurel Hester fought for -- honesty, integrity, and fairness -- are still being denied gay Americans who are defending our country. And the fact that active duty service members awarded this film with an Oscar only punctuates the important need to repeal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell."
02-26-08 Comment (1)
Ric Weiland in 2004 (AP Photo/Courtesy The Pride Foundation of Seattle, HO)
The estate of the late Richard (Ric) W. Weiland, has announced
the bequest of most of his fortune, worth an estimated $158-million, to a long list of charities including a number of LGBT organizations. The contributions, which included an $800,000 gift to SLDN, represent the single largest donation ever made in support of gay rights organizations.
“Ric Weiland has given generously to Servicemembers Legal Defense Network since May 1996. His philanthropy has allowed SLDN to pursue its mission of working towards repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” while providing free legal services to military personnel affected by the law which bans lesbians, gays and bisexuals from serving in the military," said SLDN executive director Aubrey Sarvis. "With the continued support of the Weiland estate, SLDN is working for the day when all patriotic Americans will be able to serve their country regardless of their sexual orientation.”
Ric Weiland, one of Microsoft's earliest employees, died in June 2006 at the age of 53.
While he is no longer with us -- because of his generosity, his legacy of activism, service and compassion lives on.
02-25-08 Comment (1)
On February 12, 2008, fifteen year-old Lawrence King was murdered in his school by a classmate. Unlike many recent school tragedies, which have featured sporadic violence, friends of Lawrence say he was targeted, shot and killed because of his sexual orientation and gender expression.
Join your family, friends and neighbors in making sure this young boy, and this terrible tragedy, is not forgotten. Vigils in memory of Lawrence King, and a call for an end to violence and harassment directed at lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in schools, are being organized in communities across the country.
to find a vigil in your area, or fill out the form to list a remembrance event in your community.
Please, help make sure that what happened to Lawrence never has to happen again.
Labels: community events
02-24-08 Comment (0)
Remember the Alamo? It’s right across the street from my hotel. I came to San Antonio
last Wednesday with my colleague David Hall to raise awareness of just how unfair "Don‘t Ask, Don’t Tell" really is, to meet with SLDN supporters, and with any luck to raise some money for the cause.
Our friends are already committed, and they give us great moral and financial support, San Antonio and Austin friends like Dr. Christopher Hammet, Paul Carter, Ron Anderson, Anne Wynne, George Beddingfield, General Virgil Richard and so many more. But our friends already understand the fundamental unfairness of this law. We have to open the eyes of all those millions of uncommitted voters who probably don’t give "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" much thought (the same way that sixty years ago most Americans didn’t give racial segregation much thought). Americans recognize unfairness when eventually they see it. Our job is to make them see it now, and that’s part of what I’m trying to do in San Antonio. When we’ve got enough voters on our side, the votes in Congress will go along. They always do. That’s how democracy works, and we have to make it work for us. That’s why we’re launching a national political campaign to show the American people and Congress that "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" is today’s way of separating Americans into first-class citizens and second-class citizens -- even though all of them together are fighting and dying in Iraq and Afghanistan right now.
Last Thursday night we launched our national ’08 campaign at a forum in an old downtown church in San Antonio. It’s no longer a church; it’s now a bistro and theater but in many ways it still feels like a church, an inviting church. There were about fifty of us—a good crowd, I thought, considering that the big debate in Austin between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama was being telecast on CNN
that night. Dr. Paul Boskind, a member of our board and a wonderful San Antonio supporter, was our host and led the discussion. And we all listened to stories.
Former Marine Sergeant Brian Fricke didn’t like having to pretend he was someone else while serving in Iraq, but when he came home the indignity of his second-class treatment from the Marine Corps under "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" was more than he could take. He quit, and the Marines lost a good man.
The Air Force invested many thousands of dollars in training my colleague David Hall, a former Air Force sergeant who’d been honorably discharged after he was accepted in the Air Force ROTC cadet program. He was first in his class, had already gotten a coveted pilot’s slot and was just months away from being commissioned when a fellow cadet reported him under "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," revealing that David was gay. As David told us, that was more important than anything he had accomplished in his career, any awards and honors he had received, and he was discharged. But I have a question: what kind of behavior does "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" reward, telling on a colleague or living an honest life?
And retired Army chaplain Paul Dodd shared painful stories and memories of service members being kicked out under "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" over the past fifteen years.
Towards the end of our discussion we were joined by Army Sergeant Darren Manzella, a medic who worked 12-hour days and nights taking care of his wounded comrades in the streets of Baghdad. He returned recently from Kuwait and is now serving in nearby Ft. Hood. Darren violated "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" most recently, and most spectacularly, last December 16th when he told his story to Lesley Stahl and the 15 million viewers of the CBS newsmagazine 60 Minutes
. So far he’s still in the Army.
This federal law has been in force for 15 years, and still the absurdity goes on. Now, in this time of a severely overstrained military, American forces cannot legally accept an openly gay service member, but accepting a convicted felon is no problem. Makes a lot of sense, right?
In a larger sense, all of us, gay and straight, are victims of an irrational law inconsistently applied. Darren, and David, and Brian, and Paul, however, are that law’s direct victims and their stories drive the point home. We’re here in San Antonio to repeal that law, to help right a wrong, and to put an end to this unfinished business. And that costs money. A grassroots national political campaign is very expensive.
San Antonio was generous, very generous. We will leave here with nearly $50,000 to wage this important fight and, just as importantly, we leave having made new friends.
But I also came to San Antonio to tell our story to the media. I met with Sig Christensen, military reporter for the San Antonio Express-News
. Sig thought we had a tough fight ahead of us. He wondered if the Pentagon was ready for total repeal. But he listened and said he would write something later in the week.
On Friday, I sat down with Bruce Davidson, head of the editorial board at the same paper. I thought it appropriate and timely that I was in Texas talking about "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" during this presidential campaign, and said so. Bruce seemed to nod his head in agreement, and then he asked tough questions. We shall see.
I look forward to being in Atlanta March 14th to continue this On The Road campaign.
Labels: aubrey sarvis, On The Road
02-24-08 Comment (2)
Supporters of repeal who live in Central Texas, or those of you visiting the San Antonio area tomorrow, please join SLDN for the first in a series of national forums educating Americans on political efforts to lift the ban on gays and lesbians serving openly in the U.S. military.
The event, which will feature SLDN executive director Aubrey Sarvis, SLDN Board Member Paul Boskind, PhD., former Board Member Chris Hammet, retired Army chaplain Paul Dodd, former Marine Sergeant Brian Fricke and former Air Force Staff Sergeant David Hall, is an opportunity for San Antonio residents to learn about SLDNs work to help lift the ban, including our lobbying efforts in support of the Military Readiness Enhancement Act, the Congressional bill to repeal the law.
The reception will be held at the Church Bistro and Theatre at 1150 S. Alamo
in San Antonio. Doors open at 6pm.
So come out and join us!
Labels: MREA, sldn
02-20-08 Comment (0)
Will The L Word
's Captain Tasha Williams survive “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” or will she be discharged? OurChart.com wants to share a special offer with friends of SLDN - and fans of The L Word
! Tune in beginning on Monday, February 18, to watch an advance FREE streaming
of episode 508,"Lay Down the Law," only on OurChart.com
This season on The L Word
, Captain Tasha Williams (played by Rose Rollins) of the Army National Guard is facing dismissal. Her trial begins this Sunday night - February 17th at 9pm EST - on Showtime. Kelly McGillis plays the military lawyer, Colonel Gillian Davis, who Tasha must confront in court to retain her career and her dignity. Don’t miss this cliffhanger episode!...
. . . and don’t wait a whole week to see what happens next. The entire follow-up episode, with the conclusion of Tasha's trial, will be available for free, to SLDN supporters and fans of The L Word
, online at OurChart.com
- 24 hours a day for one week - starting on Monday, February 18! Just visit OurChart online
, beginning on Monday, and watch Tasha’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” story continue to unfold . . .
Labels: DADT, ourchart.com, sldn, the l word
02-15-08 Comment (3)
1 2 >