Obama and The Gays

Yesterday, President Obama released a press statement proclaiming June 2009 as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month. This is fine and dandy, almost like a hard candy Christmas.

I think it is great that President Obama references Stonewall. I think it is great that he calls on Americans to end discrimination; however, I would rather President Obama his promise of repealing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.

Back in January, Press Secretary Robert Gibbs answered questions from the Public on Youtube. “Thadeus of Lansing, Mich., asks, ‘Is the new administration going to get rid of the “don’t ask, don’t tell policy?'” Gibbs answered,”Thadeus, you don’t hear a politician give a one-word answer much. But it’s, ‘Yes.'” We need to call on President Obama and ask him to cash in that “yes.”

Back in April of 2008, I interviewed two veterans and asked about Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. Check out that interview here.

Below is the President Obama’s proclamation as it appears on www.whitehouse.gov:

– – – – – – –

Forty years ago, patrons and supporters of the Stonewall Inn in New York City resisted police harassment that had become all too common for members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community. Out of this resistance, the LGBT rights movement in America was born. During LGBT Pride Month, we commemorate the events of June 1969 and commit to achieving equal justice under law for LGBT Americans.

LGBT Americans have made, and continue to make, great and lasting contributions that continue to strengthen the fabric of American society. There are many well-respected LGBT leaders in all professional fields, including the arts and business communities. LGBT Americans also mobilized the Nation to respond to the domestic HIV/AIDS epidemic and have played a vital role in broadening this country’s response to the HIV pandemic.

Due in no small part to the determination and dedication of the LGBT rights movement, more LGBT Americans are living their lives openly today than ever before. I am proud to be the first President to appoint openly LGBT candidates to Senate-confirmed positions in the first 100 days of an Administration. These individuals embody the best qualities we seek in public servants, and across my Administration — in both the White House and the Federal agencies — openly LGBT employees are doing their jobs with distinction and professionalism.

The LGBT rights movement has achieved great progress, but there is more work to be done. LGBT youth should feel safe to learn without the fear of harassment, and LGBT families and seniors should be allowed to live their lives with dignity and respect.

My Administration has partnered with the LGBT community to advance a wide range of initiatives. At the international level, I have joined efforts at the United Nations to decriminalize homosexuality around the world. Here at home, I continue to support measures to bring the full spectrum of equal rights to LGBT Americans. These measures include enhancing hate crimes laws, supporting civil unions and Federal rights for LGBT couples, outlawing discrimination in the workplace, ensuring adoption rights, and ending the existing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy in a way that strengthens our Armed Forces and our national security. We must also commit ourselves to fighting the HIV/AIDS epidemic by both reducing the number of HIV infections and providing care and support services to people living with HIV/AIDS across the United States.

These issues affect not only the LGBT community, but also our entire Nation. As long as the promise of equality for all remains unfulfilled, all Americans are affected. If we can work together to advance the principles upon which our Nation was founded, every American will benefit. During LGBT Pride Month, I call upon the LGBT community, the Congress, and the American people to work together to promote equal rights for all, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim June 2009 as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month. I call upon the people of the United States to turn back discrimination and prejudice everywhere it exists.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this first day of June, in the year of our Lord two thousand nine, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-third.



1993 to ? ….. When Will DADT Rest In Peace

I don’t think anyone would argue that $364 million isn’t a large sum of money, and splitting it over ten years would pay out $36.4 million a year. I could live with $36.4 million a year for ten years, but what I can’t live with is that’s the amount the Washington Post reported the U.S. military spent on discharging and replacing gay service members under President Bill Clinton-endorsed “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT) Policy. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not completely knocking Clinton. DADT was a half-hearted-decent attempt at a temporary solution; however, the time has come for the government to recognize that one’s sexuality has no effect on one’s military performance.

Anyone can Google DADT to find the history on the policy, so I’m not going to rave about the policy— instead I am going to treat to you to the thoughts of two members of the Atlanta GLBT community.

Interview #1
DB: How did “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” affect your daily life in the Air Force?

E: DADT affected my daily life in the Air Force by providing a daily reminder of how my sexuality is unwelcome in the Armed Forces. The policy allowed me to serve; however, it forced something that is a small fraction of who I am as a person into a political closet. Regardless of the policy, I still felt threatened on a daily basis of exposure. Even though they couldn’t ask and I didn’t have to tell, I could always be inspected or investigated.

DB: What would you do if you were tipped off that you were about to be investigated because you were suspected to be a lesbian?

E: If I knew the Office of Special Investigation was going to investigate me, I would send everything in my dorm room that would be remotely misconstrued as being gay to my best friend’s house for safe keeping. I would delete email accounts and disconnect myself from anyone that could be confused as being gay and therefore would aid in the confirmation of my sexuality. However, you must understand that there must be witness to my committing or wanting to commit a homosexual act before they initiate the investigation. It is up to the Squadron Commander that I belong to, to initiate that investigation.

**Erica served in the U.S. Air Force for 6 years; she left service classified as a Personnel Journeyman.

Interveiw #2DB: What are your thoughts about the military before DADT?

JS: Before DADT, in my service time there was, I think it was called, The Code of Military Justice, and there was a provision therein called Section 8. That term, “Section 8” was as close as I can relate to DADT at the time. It was the provision under which sexual misconduct was used to discharge an individual. I never knew anyone who was prosecuted but I heard of some close calls. Perhaps due to the extreme situation (all or nothing War) not much attention was paid to looking for infractions of Section 8. I might add here that at the time of my going on active duty, and during our first medical examination, the following situation occurred:

Toward the end of the examination, we were all going thru the exam process naked. It was rather fast. We had all been told to “beware of the Psychiatrist, as he’ll find out things about you and you’ll get thrown out” – so we were all scared of this final exam. When my turn came I was lead into a simple room where the doctor sat behind a table. We were ordered to sit in a chair in front of the table. He looked at my papers and then at me and simply asked, “Do you like girl?” At 18 I was dating girls, primarily for dance partners, loved to dance all my life, so in all honesty all I could say was, “Yes Sir”. He looked up at the door and said loudly, “NEXT.” That was the exam we were all so afraid to face. In those times when the country was facing the most dangerous times in it’s history, the services needed all the help they could get. Every able bodied man up thru 44 years old was “in” as well as many women. (Women didn’t have to do combat duty then.)

DB: What is your opinion of DADT?

JS: My opinion of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” is that it’s way out of line. The one example that sticks in my mind, of late, is reading about Arabic linguist personnel being discharged under DADT in large numbers. That is beyond my comprehension when such people are so desperately needed in the present war situation. It’s obvious that the need for translators is of utmost important as lives can depend on such abilities with language. It makes me wonder if American lives were lost, or are being lost, in the war zone due to these people being removed from service when common sense says they are of the greatest need and importance.

**Jack Strouss served from October 1942 to April 26, 1946, in the U.S. Army Signal Corp. He left the U.S. Army Signal Corp ranked a Corporal.