77 US House Members Sent Letter: Stop DADT Now!

Seventy-seven members of the US House of Representatives have signed a letter addressed to President Obama to stop enforcing Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, to stop investigating military personnel to discover their sexual orientation and to stop using third-party accusations to persuit military discharges.  However, that probably won’t result in any changes under the Obama Administraton for a long time from now.

With  Keith Ellison (D-5th CD) and Betty McCollum (D-4th CD) the only Minnesotans signing it, the letter was originally penned  by Congressman Alcee Hastings (D-FL 23rd) and states in part:

“We urge you to exercise the maximum discretion legally possible in administering Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell until Congress repeals the law,” states the letter, organized by Rep. Alcee Hastings, a Democrat of Florida. “To this end, we ask that you direct the Armed Services not to initiate any investigation of service personnel to determine their sexual orientation, and that you instruct them to disregard third party accusations that do not allege violations of the Uniform Code of Military Justice.”

Congressman Alcee Hastings said on his website:

“Approximately two service members are lost to this misguided, unjust, and flat-out discriminatory policy every day.  At a time when we are engaged in two wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, our lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender service members offer mission-critical skills that enhance our military’s competence and readiness and ensure our national security.  It is my sincere hope that President Obama, together with Congress, will take swift and meaningful action on the dishonorable and debilitating law that is Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,”

Responding to the letter:

Obama aides have said the president still plans on acting on his campaign pledge to work for the law’s repeal but have outlined a very deliberative process of study and consultation with the top military brass that could take months, if not years.

Like I said: “Doubtful that any changes are going to happen in the near forseable future.”

The full text of the letter follows (re: Congressman Hasting’s website)”

June 22, 2009

The Honorable Barack H. Obama

President of the United States

The White House

Washington, D.C. 20500

Dear President Obama:

The United States of America prides itself on having the finest military in the world because of the hard work, dedication, and sacrifices of our brave servicemen and women.  And yet, under 10 U.S.C. § 654 (Policy Concerning Homosexuality in the Armed Forces), better known as “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” the talents and contributions of our openly gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) service members continue to be ignored simply because of who they are.  Every day, we lose approximately two service members to this misguided, unjust, and flat-out discriminatory policy.  Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell is not only an injustice to them, but a disservice to the U.S. military and our country as a whole.

As you know, Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell was signed into law in 1993 by former President Bill Clinton as a compromise to allow gay and lesbian service members to serve in the military – so long as they did not disclose their sexual orientations.  Fifteen years later, Don’t Ask Don’t Tell is instead negatively impacting the lives and livelihoods of these military professionals and depriving our Armed Forces of their honorable service.  Since you took office on January 20, 2009, more than 250 gay and lesbian service members have been discharged under this law, which continues to undermine and demoralize the more than 65,000 gay and lesbian Americans currently serving on active duty.

Although we are confident that you will remain true to your campaign promise to end Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, our LGBT service members and our country’s national security will continue to suffer if initial action is delayed until 2010 or 2011.  We urge you to exercise the maximum discretion legally possible in administering Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell until Congress repeals the law.  To this end, we ask that you direct the Armed Services not to initiate any investigation of service personnel to determine their sexual orientation, and that you instruct them to disregard third party accusations that do not allege violations of the Uniform Code of Military Justice.  That is, we request that you impose that no one is asked and that you ignore, as the law requires, third parties who tell.  Under your leadership, Congress must then repeal and replace Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell with a policy of inclusion and non-discrimination.  This bilateral strategy would allow our openly gay and lesbian service members to continue serving our country and demonstrate our nation’s lasting commitment to justice and equality for all.

As the United States continues to work towards responsibly ending the War in Iraq and refocus on the threat from al Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan, our LGBT service members offer invaluable skills that enhance our country’s military competence and readiness.  Despite the great strain on our military’s human resources, the Armed Forces have discharged almost 800 mission-critical troops and at least 59 Arabic and nine Farsi linguists under Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell in the last five years.  This is indefensible.  The financial cost alone of implementing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell from Fiscal Year 1994-2003 was more than $363.8 million.  Our nation’s military has always held itself to the highest standards, and we must recruit and retain the greatest number of our best and brightest.  To do anything less only hurts our country’s military readiness and our service members.

We also want to bring to your attention the most recent examples of the failed Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy in action.  New York National Guard First Lieutenant Dan Choi and Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Victor Fehrenbach are two exceptional servicemen who have dedicated their lives to defending our country and protecting the American people.  Their bravery and abilities have been tested in combat, and now they face impending discharge under Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.

First Lieutenant Choi, a current National Guardsman with the 1st Battalion of the 69th Infantry in Manhattan, is a West Point graduate, Arabic language specialist, and Iraq War veteran who is under investigation for refusing to lie about his identity.

Lieutenant Colonel Fehrenbach, Assistant Director of Operations for the 366th Operations Support Squadron at Mountain Home Air Force Base in Idaho, has honorably served his country for 18 years as an F-15E pilot.  He has received nine air medals, including a Medal for Heroism during the 2003 invasion of Iraq, and was hand-picked to protect the airspace over Washington, D.C. after the Pentagon was attacked on September 11, 2001.  Lieutenant Colonel Fehrenbach, who has flown combat missions in Iraq and Afghanistan against the Taliban and al Qaeda, continues to serve while the recommendation for his honorable discharge moves forward to a review board, and eventually to the Secretary of the Air Force.  Just two years away from his 20-year retirement, he stands to lose $46,000 a year in retirement and medical benefits for the rest of his life if discharged.

The American people and service members of the Armed Forces overwhelmingly support the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.  According to a national Gallup poll conducted in May 2009, 69 percent of Americans, including 58 percent of Republicans, favor allowing openly gay men and lesbian women to serve in the military.  Furthermore, a 2006 poll of 545 troops who served in Iraq and Afghanistan by Zogby International and the Michael D. Palm Center at the University of California, Santa Barbara revealed that 73 percent are personally comfortable with gay men and lesbian women.  John Shalikashvili, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff during the Clinton administration, and more than 100 retired admirals and generals support this repeal, in addition to the Human Rights Campaign, the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, and Knights Out, an organization of LGBT West Point alumni co-founded by First Lieutenant Choi.

Mr. President, we cannot afford to lose any more of our dedicated and talented service members to Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.  On behalf of First Lieutenant Choi, Lieutenant Colonel Fehrenbach, and the more than 12,500 gay and lesbian service members who have been discharged since Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell was implemented in 1994, we stand ready to assist you in repealing this dishonorable and debilitating law as soon as possible, and in restoring justice and equality in our Armed Forces.

Please know that we will continue to monitor this situation and are hopeful that, together, we can address this urgent issue soon.  Thank you for your consideration and we look forward to your response.

Sincerely,

Representatives Barney Frank (D-MA), John Conyers, Jr. (D-MI), Fortney “Pete” Stark (D-CA), Edward J. Markey (D-MA), Gary Ackerman (D-NY), Louise Slaughter (D-NY), Eliot Engel (D-NY), Jim McDermott (D-WA), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), José Serrano (D-NY), James Moran (D-VA), Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), Ed Pastor (D-AZ), James Clyburn (D-SC), Anna Eshoo (D-CA), Bob Filner (D-CA), Luis Gutierrez (D-IL), Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX), Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), Robert “Bobby” Scott (D-VA), Bennie Thompson (D-MS), Nydia Velázquez (D-NY), Melvin Watt (D-NC), Lynn Woolsey (D-CA), Lloyd Doggett (D-TX), Chaka Fattah (D-PA), Jane Harman (D-CA), Lois Capps (D-CA), Donna M. Christensen (D-VI), Diana DeGette (D-CO), Bill Delahunt (D-MA), Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick (D-MI), Dennis Kucinich (D-OH), Barbara Lee (D-CA), James McGovern (D-MA), Brad Sherman (D-CA), Robert Wexler (D-FL), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Shelley Berkley (D-NV), Michael Capuano (D-MA), Joseph Crowley (D-NY), Rush Holt (D-NJ), John Larson (D-CT), Grace Napolitano (D-CA), Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), Anthony Weiner (D-NY), David Wu (D-OR), William Lacy Clay (D-MO), Mike Honda (D-CA), James Langevin (D-RI), Betty McCollum (D-MN), Diane Watson (D-CA), Tim Bishop (D-NY), Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ), Linda Sánchez (D-CA), Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO), Doris Matsui (D-CA), Gwen Moore (D-WI), Debbie Wasserman Schulz (D-FL), André Carson (D-IN), Kathy Castor (D-FL), Yvette Clarke (D-NY), Donna F. Edwards (D-MD), Keith Ellison (D-MN), Marcia L. Fudge (D-OH), Phil Hare (D-IL), Mazie K. Hirono (D-HI), Laura Richardson (D-CA), Joe Sestak (D-PA), Niki Tsongas (D-MA), Peter Welch (D-VT), Alan Grayson (D-FL), Jared Polis (D-CO), Mike Quigley (D-IL), and Gregorio Sablan (D-MP)

Shutting Down the DNC’s gAyTM

Closed gAyTM

Closed gAyTM

The current meltdown in Iran is giving cover to the massive shutdown of the DNC’s gAyTM.

Next week’s GLBT DNC fundraiser is in shambles: Barney Frank (D-MA) and Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) are the handful of openly gay Congresscritters who are obvious attendees.

The DNC itself is spinning the expected mega-disaster GLBT protests as a sort of “game” or part of the already scheduled entertainment for the evening.  Keeping in mind that the GLBT community is furious with the DNC; Andrew Tobias, the national DNC’s treasurer who is openly gay, spits out an E-mail blast that includes the expected GLBT protests as a sham by pretending to be part of the entertainment:

From: “Andrew Tobias”
To: “‘Andrew Tobias'”
Cc: “‘Tom Petrillo'”
Subject: quick one – for New Yorkers
Date: Sat, 20 Jun 2009

Ah, the opportunities:

TOMORROW:
Meet our great Jared Polis tomorrow from 7pm to 9pm, along with his Congressional baseball buddy from NY s 25th district, Congressman Dan Maffei. Hope to see you there (150 Central Park South #2104). Click here to contribute ($250 / $100 young professional) and RSVP to andrew@polisforcongress.com.

THURSDAY:
Whether you come with a sign . . . (STOP FIRING ARAB TRANSLATORS!) (CIVIL MARRIAGE = CIVIL RIGHT!) (EQUALITY NOW!) . . . or come to help fund the tools we need to help move the President s agenda, which includes +our+ agenda . . . board the Acela and come to dinner with the Vice President of the United States. Click here. (Or here if you can t come but want to chip in.) Or how s THIS for a strategy? Contribute — but stand outside with a sign! We ll keep a plate warm for you and buy you a drink afterward, when the cameras are gone. We are, after all, all on the same team.

NEXT SATURDAY:
A +very+ small lunch in the Pines with New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. Email me.

SATURDAY, JULY 11:
WATER VOLLEYBALL WITH THE CHAIRMAN OF THE HOUSE FINANCIAL SERVICES COMMITTEE, Barney Frank. Click here. (You can just watch and drink if you don t want to play.)

Enjoy the summer — and enjoy the progress. We re winning.

Andy

Thanks for the “Freeway-Finger Flip-Off”, Andy!  Back at you, Buddy!

The problem: Few people are going to be attending.  It’s an embarrassment for the Presidency who campaigned for two years of broken promises and the Vice President expected to be the keynote.

GBLT bloggers everywhere are yelling the message loud and clear: Stop the money, and stop the support for the DNC.

The Obama Administration offered breadcrumbs to the Gay Community by offering same-sex benefits for federal employees via a “presidential memorandum“.  (Really?  The gays get a freaking “memo”?  Is that all the Gay Community means to this President?    …A freaking “memo”?)

The “memo” has three problems that are patently obvious:

  1. The program that offers these benefits to those GLBT federal employees expire at the end of Obama’s four year presidency. Who smells a GOP-sponsored “Puppet Presidency”?!
  2. If 2% of the US population are federal employees, the program Obama has offered applies to only 3% of those employees.  Federal employees in the DOJ, US Military and the Pentagon are excluded in that same memo because it would require legislation from Congress.  Yet, there are no plans for Congress to look into the matter…nor are there any discussions that have begun.
  3. There’s no definition of what those “benefits” will be. Health care? Continuing Education benefits? Shared retirement accounts? There’s nothing defined and the White House isn’t willing to discuss those details.   My personal opinon: The benefits being offered are just as pathetic and Obama’s apathy towards Daniel Choi’s train-wrecked military career.

The offer was an intelligent-distraction for the Gay Community from Obama’s blatant apathy towards the stack of promises made to us on his campaign trail.

Again; from the NY Times:

President Obama and his advisers have been reluctant to wade deeply into divisive issues like overturning a ban on openly gay military members or extending benefits to partners of government employees, fearful that such moves could overtake the administration’s broader agenda.

~~~~~~~~~~~
With the administration’s decision to stop short of extending full health insurance benefits or calling for legislation to do so, it remained an open question how significant the presidential announcement would be, Mr. [Clinton advisor on GLBT issues Richard] Socarides said.But administration officials said the timing of the announcement was intended to help contain the growing furor among gay rights groups. Several gay donors withdrew their sponsorship of a Democratic National Committee fund-raising event next week, where Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. is scheduled to speak.

Personnally; I don’t think Obama’s “Gee-Whiz Memo” helped.

A brief review on what brought up this DNC Gay boycott – now in full-swing:

  • In California, two federal appeals court judges said that employees of their court were entitled to health benefits for their same-sex partners under the program that insures millions of federal workers. But the federal Office of Personnel Management has instructed insurers not to provide the benefits ordered by the judges, citing a 1996 law, the Defense of Marriage Act.  In other words, DOMA is being used by the Federal Courts as nothing more than a patsy.   It’s convenient for the Federal Government to discriminate against the gays for financial goals – as long as DOMA sits on the books.
  • The Obama Administration’s Department of Justice, in response to those California cases that are now sitting in front of the United States Supreme Court, fired off a “memo” supporting DOMA at the expense of the Gay Community. For example:
  • The brief insists it is reasonable for states to favor heterosexual marriages because they are the “traditional and universally recognized form of marriage.” In arguing that other states do not have to recognize same-sex marriages under the Constitution’s “full faith and credit” clause, the Justice Department cites —>>decades-old cases<<— ruling that states do not have to recognize marriages between cousins or an “uncle and a niece“.

    Comparing Gay and Lesbian Relationships to marriage between cousins or an uncle and a niece pisses me off to no end. Is the President of the United States that shallow?  Did the United States of America elect a bunch of dumb-witted pedestrians that are so pathetic that they would paint the entire GLBT community as a bunch of hicks?

    Does the Obama Administration expect to hear “Dueling Banjos” playing in the background when they come around our house while we’re in the backyard mowing the lawn and pruning our tomato plants and weeding our radishes?  …Expecting Bubba in the front yard playing hoola-hoop with a tractor-tire?  Does the Obama Administration think a gay and lesbian household’s outdoor activities include “toilet-seat horseshoes”?

    Why is the Obama Administration allowed to stereotype our Gay and Lesbian relationships and not get called out on it.  I thought Obama had moved past the idea of stereotyping “The Fags”.  Wasn’t that the true mesage behind all of that “Change” bullshit?

    Obviously, I was wrong.  If I was going to be just as pedestrian as the President on stereotypes, should I begin with regular meals at the White House served black-eyed peas and chitterlings?  What a disgusting thing to say in front of the United States Supreme Court – that my relationship with my life partner is equivalent to a uncle marrying a niece.

  • Daniel Choi, 1st Lieutenant,  US Army, an Arabic-translator and West Point graduate went on Rachel Maddow’s MSNBC television show and “Came Out”. Subsequently, he was dishonorably discharged for it and the Obama White House ignored the issue as badly has he ignored  Jena-Six last year.when he was on the campaign trail.

Robert Gibbs, on the subject of 1st Lt Daniel Choi on the subject of DADT:

Obama appears to have an agenda that serves him first – and everybody else second (if it’s convenient for him).

Let’s talk about the Human Rights Campaign, because they have put themselves in an integral part of this debacle.

HRC bailed on next week’s GLBT Fundraiser for the DNC.   Shortly after Obama’s “mega-memo” submitte dto the US Supreme Court, Joe Solmonese, HRC’s Chair, has scuttled Obama’s gloss over over the whole issue with a scathing letter that mainstream media decided to consider last week.  Citing Obama’s DOJ “memo”, Solmonese squares off with:

Because all 50 States recognize hetero-sexual marriage, it was reasonable and rational for Congress to maintain its longstanding policy of fostering this traditional and universally-recognized form of marriage.

Solmonese responds to the statement:

The government does not state why denying us basic protections promotes anyone else’s marriage, nor why, while our heterosexual neighbors’ marriages should be promoted, our own must be discouraged.  In other words, the brief does not even attempt to explain how DOMA is related to any interest, but rather accepts that it is constitutional to attempt to legislate our families out of existence.

Now I’m going to hold Solmonese responsible for this debacle because he was involved in the first place.  Nobody is finger-pointing at Solmonese as being part of this disaster, except for me.  Solmonese is a sell-out.  Period.

Solmonese ran for cover when it was revealed that he met with the President and decided to kick issues like DOMA and DADT down the political road sometime in mid-November.  Nothing coming out of Joe Solmonese should be taken as truthful in my view.  He got caught playing games, Obama agreed and went along with those games and Solmonese has made himself into a patsy. Barney Frank admited in April that DADT wasn’t expected to be discussed until 2010 at the end of those meetings between Solmonese and Obama.

Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) said Thursday that Democratic leaders won’t push to repeal the controversial “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy governing gay service in the military until 2010. “I believe we should and will do ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ next year,” said Frank, a co-chairman of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Equality Caucus. “We haven’t done the preliminary work, the preparatory work. It would be a mistake to bring it up without a lot of lobbying and a lot of conversation.”

Tammy Baldwin (R-WI) chimed in as Congresswoman Milquetoast:

“We don’t even know the votes in committee, let alone the votes on the floor. … So I think the prediction it will not happen in calendar year 2009 is probably accurate,” said Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), who is also openly gay and a co-chairwoman of the LGBT Caucus.

Solmonese ignored these statesments because he was in on the take to kick the “gay agenda” down the political calendar.  The “Lt Dan Choi” story has been going on for two months now and HRC has done little to nothing about it.  In fact, it was Senator Chuck Shumer (D-NY) who told a leaders within the GLBT community that HRC  had recommended not prioritizing DADT in exchange for other legislative issues they had looked forward to.  (Joe Solmonese denies the allegation, of course.)

If Joe Solmonese is ignoring these comments coming from the two Co-Chairs of the  House Equality Caucus, ignore 1st Lt Dan Choi who’s career is getting trainwrecked, but suddenly wakes up once Obama’s DOJ memo hits the steps of the United States Supreme Court, then Joe Solmonese needs to step down from his position for sleeping at the wheel. He can deny Senator Shumer all he wants – but actions (and inactions) speak much louder than words.

Democrats hold a majority in the United States House, a very skinny filibuster-proof majority in the United States Senate, and they own the United States White House.   And here’s  our GLBT Congresscritters chewin’ their fingernails over whether or not they can get a vote out of committee – let alone out of the United States House of Representatives.

With polls showing 70% in favor of killing DADT and New York Congressman John McHugh (R) who now serves as Obama’s nominee as Secretary of the Army agrees that DADT is uesless.  McHugh said to the RollCall just two weeks ago:

“I have no interest as either a Member of Congress or as … secretary of the Army to exclude by some categorization a group of people otherwise qualified to serve.”

The Democrats in Congress and the White House needs to pony up their debt to the GLBT as we have faithfully and financially ponied up to them for the last 40 years.   And, sorry – abut a “memo” just doesn’t cut it.MGMT: Kids

My wallet to the DNC and the DFL is closed.  Next Sunday, the average fair of Democrats are going to be marching down Hennipen Avenue in the 40th Anniversary of Gay Pride – I will not be cheering for any of them.

Happy Gay Pride, America!