Via The Washington Post
It’s over: The United States Army has become the first branch of the armed services to formally end its “don’t ask don’t tell” policy. An announcement is expected for tomorrow, but my Post colleague Ed O’Keefe obtained the actual document sent to soldiers around the globe today announcing the change:
Today marks the end of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.” The law is repealed. From this day forward, gay and lesbian Soldiers may serve in our Army with the dignity and respect they deserve. Our rules, regulations and politics reflect the repeal guidance issued by the Department of Defense and will apply uniformly without regard to sexual orientation, which is a personal and private matter.
For over 236 years, the U.S. Army has been an extraordinary force for good in the world. Our Soldiers are the most agile, adaptable and capable warriors in history — and we are ready for this change...
Accordingly, we expect all personnel to follow our Values by implementing the repeal fully, fairly and in accordance with policy guidance. It is the duty of all personnel to treat each other with dignity and respect, while maintaining good order and discipline throughout our ranks. Doing so, will help the U.S. Army remain the Strength of the Nation.
Separately, the military has begun accepting applications from openly gay recruits. Though there wasn’t any serious doubt about the policy being officially repealed, some gay activists had remained guarded until the end. “Seems this is for real,” John Aravosis noted with relief today.
It’s easy to forget this — after all, repeal passed Congress and was signed by the president a full nine months ago — but even when repeal seemed within reach, success was anything but assured. It only came after a nearly pitch-perfect effort by Obama and the military leadership to create the political conditions necessary to bring about repeal, as well as well as some very shrewd public and private gamesmanship by Senate leaders that left GOP moderates with little choice but to do the right thing. It will be endlessly debated whether Obama and Dems did this in response to outside pressure, but the fact is, they did it.
The understated language in the Army’s announcement, its simple restatement of what seems so right, just, and true, serves as a reminder that this should have been a no-brainer all along. Indeed, the quietness of the announcement makes it sound like repeal was a no-brainer. The magnitude of our current challenges — and the volume of ongoing political rancor — risk making the successful securing of repeal seem in retrospect like a sideshow. But make no mistake. It was an extremely hard-fought win — a massive victory for common sense and decency over bigotry and legalized discrimination. At a difficult moment, it stands as a sorely needed reminder that progress remains possible. Let’s not forget it.
As if this whole thing isn't WTF inducing already in a month where the GOP and Tea Party have made it their mission to deny women access to contraception at least they found one group that is worthy of birth control, wild horses. It's nice to know that I've been demoted from just being less deserving than a man to being less deserving than wild horses. It's time to put a stop to this and to tell the conservatives, whatever their stripe, that we will not stand for this latest assault on women's rights so please, sign the petition and tell Congress that you stand with Planned Parenthood.
So I will leave you with these two videos of people who express my thoughts on choice and what women deserve in a much more eloquent way than I can.
- Current Mood: enraged
- Current Music:Not Ready to Make Nice - Dixie Chicks
Congress, as well-populated with jerkoffs then as they were at anytime in their history, fought this effort with the tenacity they typically reserve for fundraising their own elections. At the time, there were many pretty sounding reasons for keeping gays out of the military. Many of them -- "unit cohesion" and "morale" -- sounded suspiciously similar to the reasons proffered long ago by those who wanted to keep the military from being integrated racially. The rest of the reasons were incredibly stupid ones -- Someone might get a boner in a foxhole! Someone's junk might get ogled in a shower! -- that were embarassing to see taken seriously.
Still, what was to be done about the gays in the military? Well, after all the wrangling, everyone agreed to a compromise that came to be known as "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." What did it all mean? Well, for gay soldiers, it meant that they could continue to serve their country, so long as they didn't tell anyone they were gay. If they "told," they would be discharged.
It was never really clear what the "Don't Ask" side of the equation amounted to. When you look at this training guide on the "homosexual conduct policy" published in comic book form -- yes, comic book form -- by the Department of the Army's Assistant Secretary for Manpower and Reserve Affairs, it makes it clear that once the Rumors Of Gay start floating around, a whole lot of "asking" starts. And while it may be a trick of memory, I cannot recall anyone ever getting tossed from the military for ASKING whether someone was gay. Mostly, it was the telling!
(By the way, eventually, a "Don't Harrass" measure had to be instituted as well, because years after DADT went into effect, gay soldiers, like PFC First Class Barry Winchell, were still being harrassed and murdered by their comrades. Why no one thought to consider whether it was the harrasser/murderers, and not the gay soldiers, that were the threat to "unit cohesion," is something that deserves to be explained.)
At any rate, "Don't Ask Don't Tell" became law, and it mainly achieved a pretty way of talking about a problem that had been swept under the rug by ostensible grown-ups. In theory, it was the way that members of the LGBT community could continue to serve in the armed forces. In practice, however, the law wasn't so much "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" as it was "Do Lie About Who You Are, Do Hope That You Never Get Caught."
At the time, I think that people found this acceptable only because they imagined that military service to be a brief period of time. Surely, the gay soldier could just chill out for a few years, cool it on the gay, and wait until they had rejoined civilian life to come out to everybody. What's left out of these considerations were the careers that the military offered, the health care that military service entitled you to, the college scholarships, the teaching positions, the pensions, that line on your resume that permanently enshrined a lie...
Mostly, I think people just were happy that a palatable sounding solution had been achieved. Those guys who started that "No Labels" thing last week about ending partisan rancor? If they'd been around in 1993, they would be precisely the sort of people to loudly campaign for "Don't Ask Don't Tell" as a "reasonable" solution that promoted "civility."
Of course, activists who recognized the stultifying unfairness of "Don't Ask Don't Tell" never stopped fighting it. And over the years, attitudes toward members of the LGBT community slowly started to shift in a more positive direction. But nothing has helped refocus attention on the stupidity of the "Don't Ask Don't Tell" policy as actually going to war. See, once we were off on out long, interminable, costly wars against "terror," and all hands were on deck in the fight that would definee our future, it became really untenable for the military to be kicking out what few Farsi translators they had because they also happened to be gay.
Yeah, let's face it: that was a moment where even a lot of people who had previously been not-too-sharp in the issue finally had to say, "Well, that sure sounds like some bullshit."
( Much more awesomeness aheadCollapse )
Jason Linkins, you took the words right out of my mouth. I love and agree with EVERYTHING you just said.
WASHINGTON -- The Senate voted 65-31 on Saturday to end Don't Ask, Don't Tell, defeating a 17-year policy of banning gay and lesbian service members from serving openly in the military. Six Republicans initially crossed the aisle to vote against the policy: Susan Collins (R-Maine), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), Scott Brown (R-Mass.), Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) and George Voinovich (R-Ohio).
The Senate vote is a vindication of Obama's decision to push for congressional repeal as opposed to unilateral executive action, though activists note he could have done both. The Senate will make a final vote on ending the policy at 3 p.m.
In the first procedural vote on Saturday morning, 63 senators voted in favor of the bill and 33 against. In the final passage, Sens. John Ensign (R-Nev.) and Richard Burr (R-N.C.) switched their vote to "aye," despite initially voting against moving forward with the bill.
"The important thing today is that 63 senators were on the right side of history," Joe Solmonese, president of the Human Rights Campaign, told HuffPost after the first vote, adding he sees the bill as a "stepping stone to further advances for the gay and lesbian community."
Gay-rights activists owe a small debt to their Latino brethren, as the DREAM Act, which the House and Senate have been considering at the same time, showed the way forward for repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell. Roughly a week before a crucial cloture vote failed, said one top aide, Democratic leadership staff saw that the same legislative tactic could be used to bring a standalone version of the repeal bill to the Senate floor as was currently being used to bring DREAM up. For needlessly complex reasons, a bill that comes to the Senate as a "message from the House" faces fewer obstacles to a floor vote than one that originates in the Senate.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) proposed to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) that the House consider moving first. Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) had the same idea.
"Senator Lieberman and Senator Collins determined that they would introduce a bill," Hoyer told HuffPost earlier this week. "I called and talked to a number of people. I then called Senator Lieberman and said 'Joe, my intent will be to talk to Congressman Murphy' -- who's the sponsor of the amendment that was adopted in the defense bill -- 'and put this in as a free standing bill, because we can probably send it over to you more quickly than you can send to us.' And he agreed and we introduced exactly the same bill that they have in the Senate."
The bill passed in the House 250-175 on Dec. 16.
During debate before the cloture vote, Republicans ran through the usual list of arguments against repealing DADT, claiming it would hurt unit cohesion and that troops had not been given an adequate chance to voice their opinions on the bill. A survey on ending DADT was sent to 400,000 service members, at least 100,000 of whom responded. Of those who responded, 70 percent said they would "work together to get the job done" if there was a gay service member in their unit -- and 69 percent said they know or suspect there is a gay service member serving with them already.
Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) said the reason survey results were mostly positive because troops already thought the repeal was "a done deal" because politicians had said they planned to repeal it. Repealing DADT would harm recruitment and retention, he said. "I was shocked at how well this has worked for a long period of time," Inhofe said. "We have a saying in Oklahoma, 'if it ain't broke, don't fix it.' Well, this isn't broke, it's working very well."
Republican senators said their opposition was not related to homophobia or lack of appreciation for those who have served or are serving in the military. "This has nothing to do with the gays and lesbians who have given valuable service to our military," said Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.). "That's a given."
Still, they rejected the idea that the military could adjust seamlessly to a more open policy. "Some people will say this is about civil rights and its time has come. The Marine Corps doesn't have that view," Graham said. "This is about effectiveness on the battle field, not about civil rights."
In the end, though, support for a repeal won out. A number of Democrats made impassioned appeals for the bill in the debate. "I can't think of something more egregious to our fabric, to our military," said Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y). "If you care about national security, if you care about military readiness, you will vote against this corrosive policy."
Now, though, Republicans are threatening that the vote will threaten another effort: ratification of the START Treaty, which supporters say would strengthen national security.
"Some Republicans are saying they're not going to vote for the START Treaty now because we had a vote on the DREAM Act and Don't Ask, Don't Tell," said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) after the vote.
President Barack Obama applauded the Senate for moving toward repeal. "By ending 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell,' no longer will our nation be denied the service of thousands of patriotic Americans forced to leave the military, despite years of exemplary performance, because they happen to be gay," he said in a statement. "And no longer will many thousands more be asked to live a lie in order to serve the country they love."
It's about damn time. Also, it IS a civil rights issue so don't even say that it isn't. I am seriously LOLing at the people that say that they don't think the military could adjust from having gays and lesbians who were there anyway but weren't out to having the same gays and lesbians there but now people just happen to know that they are gay and lesbian, I would think that if there was ANY institution that would make up new rules and would expect you to get on board regardless of how much you agree or disagree with them it WOULD be the military.
ETA: I need a celebratory GIF for this entry.
It’s been decided. On October 20th, 2010, we will wear purple in honor of the 6 gay boys who committed suicide in recent weeks/months due to homophobic abuse in their homes at at their schools. Purple represents Spirit on the LGBTQ flag and that’s exactly what we’d like all of you to have with you: spirit. Please know that times will get better and that you will meet people who will love you and respect you for who you are, no matter your sexuality. Please wear purple on October 20th. Tell your friends, family, co-workers, neighbors and schools.
RIP Tyler Clementi, Seth Walsh (top)
RIP Justin Aaberg, Raymond Chase (middle)
RIP Asher Brown and Billy Lucas. (bottom)
REBLOG to spread a message of love, unity and peace.
It has no running water, and the delivery room is little more than a pair of padded benches with stirrups. But the blue paint on the walls is fairly fresh, and the labor room beds have mosquito nets.
Inside, three generations of the Yankulije family are relaxing on one bed: Rachel, 53, her daughter Chantal Mujawimana, 22, and Chantal’s baby boy, too recently arrived in this world to have a name yet.
The little prince is the first in his line to be delivered in a clinic rather than on the floor of a mud hut. But he is not the first with health insurance. Both his mother and grandmother have it, which is why he was born here.
Rwanda has had national health insurance for 11 years now; 92 percent of the nation is covered, and the premiums are $2 a year.
Sunny Ntayomba, an editorial writer for The New Times, a newspaper based in the capital, Kigali, is aware of the paradox: his nation, one of the world’s poorest, insures more of its citizens than the world’s richest does.
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So when even one of the world's poorest countries can make a concerted effort to insure its citizens then a country like the US has no valid excuse for why it can't.
(Reuters) - Lawmakers in both chambers of the Congress took steps on Thursday toward repealing a ban on gays and lesbians serving openly in the U.S. military, a goal championed by President Barack Obama.
The House of Representatives voted 234-194 to approve an amendment aimed at ending the Clinton-era "don't ask, don't tell" policy that allows homosexuals to serve in secret but expels them if their sexual orientation becomes known.
Visitors cheered in the House galleries after the vote, which followed similar action by a Senate panel a few hours earlier. There are still several more legislative steps before the change can become law.
"With our military fighting two wars, why on earth would we tell over 13,500 able-bodied troops that their services are not needed?" Representative Patrick Murphy argued before the House voted on the amendment to a defense policy bill.
Murphy, formerly in the U.S. Army, was the first veteran of the Iraq war to serve in Congress. He sponsored the House amendment.
"It's time for this policy to go. It doesn't reflect America's best values for equal opportunity and it is not good for the military," independent Senator Joseph Lieberman, a member of the Armed Services committee, said after the panel voted 16-12 to change the law.
President Barack Obama said he was pleased with the vote.
"This legislation will help make our Armed Forces even stronger and more inclusive by allowing gay and lesbian soldiers to serve honestly and with integrity," he said in a statement.
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It's about damn time, it was stupid law in the first place anyway. Also, other countries have allowed gay and lesbian troops to openly serve and guess what, those countries haven't disappeared into the ocean so really, stop using scare tactics, conservatives, you're on the losing side of history.
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US scores poorly on world motherhood rankings: charity
WASHINGTON — The United States has scored poorly on a campaign group's list of the best countries in which to be a mother, managing only 28th place, and bettered by many smaller and poorer countries.
Norway topped the latest Save the Children "Mothers Index", followed by a string of other developed nations, while Afghanistan came in at the bottom of the table, below several African states.
But the US showing put it behind countries such as the Baltic states, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania; and eastern and central European states such as Croatia and Slovenia.
Even debt-plagued Greece came in four places higher at 24.
One factor that dragged the US ranking down was its maternal mortality rate, which at one in 4,800 is one of the highest in the developed world, said the report.
"A woman in the Unites States is more than five times as likely as a woman in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Greece or Italy to die from pregnancy-related causes in her lifetime and her risk of maternal death is nearly 10-fold that of a woman in Ireland," the report said.
It also scored poorly on under-five mortality, its rate of eight per 1,000 births putting it on a par with Slovakia and Montenegro."At this rate, a child in the US is more than twice as likely as a child in Finland, Iceland, Sweden or Singapore to die before his or her fifth birthday," the report noted.
( Save the Children takes a look at the state of the world"s mothers in 2010Collapse )
Source as well as the 2010 Mothers' Index rankings and a link Save the Children's report on the State of the World's Mothers for 2010
That's it, I'm moving to Norway. Seriously, just because I have a vagina doesn't automatically make me less of a person because of that, at least in Norway I'd get treated like a human being instead of a walking incubator.
President Barack H. Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue Northwest
Washington, DC 20500
Dear Mr. President,
As an active-duty military chaplain who just returned from a 15-month deployment in Iraq, this is my appeal for justice:
Over the years some of us have buried our closest friends -- officers and enlisted, African American, Latinos, Native Americans, Asians, Whites, rich, poor, Protestants, Catholics, Muslims and Jews. They had the courage to make the supreme sacrifice in order for us to reap the bounties of freedom. We owe them a debt of gratitude which can never be repaid.
What is remarkable about these Marines, Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Coastguardsmen is they understood the personal risk when they answered the highest calling of our nation. What could be a nobler act then to give one’s life to one’s country, knowing that in their lives many freedoms would be denied them?
And when their story is told a significant piece of their life would be missing.
As they sleep under the crosses, the stars of David and the crescents there is no bigotry. There is no prejudice. There is no hatred. And within the sacred confines of their resting place there is no law of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.” There is only purest democracy.
When the final cross has been placed in the last cemetery, will it only be then that we as a nation acknowledge our gay brothers and sisters who took the risks of life and truth to answer their nation’s highest calling? How many of these brave men and women lie in military graves and still hide in death?
( They are among the unknown soldiers...Collapse )
With deepest respect,
A military chaplain
(The writer is currently serving and unable to identify himself publicly.)
Source includes a story that will break your heart and even more letters
For me that particularly basically explains why I think that DADT should be repealed like today. Putting aside the valid arguments of not losing valuable members because they're gay or the ability to increase ranks without having to relax standards when openly gay people realize that they won't have to go into the closet if they want to serve because while they are both very valid arguments repealing DADT is just the morally right thing to do. Much is asked by our country of those who serve, why can't the country at the very least allow them the dignity to serve without hiding who they are and allowing their loved ones the support of the military family that has so far been out of reach for them?
- Current Mood: thoughtful