Is the Repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell a Victory?

Several of my friends have posted an article on Facebook arguing that the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT), the military’s policy that bans gay men and lesbians from serving openly in the military, is not a victory for economic justice. I agree.

But. I think the article misses some important points. My take:

The authors are right to say that military service should not be the only jobs program available and that government funds could be better used, and the poor better served, by other types of economic development. The problem is this: whether or not the military SHOULD be the de facto jobs program, it HAS been the de facto jobs program. This means that gay men and lesbians (who, contrary to popular notions, are not always better off economically) have joined the military as a way to better their economic situation. The repeal of DADT is a victory for them.

The repeal of DADT is a victory for other reasons, too. It is a victory for gay and straight service members who have been targeted and forced out using the ban’s vague language and murky enforcement policies. While I am fairly certain that a good number of gay service people will remain in the closet, despite the repeal, at least it will not be a weapon in the arsenal of people who would go to any lengths to ruin the careers of others.

Regardless of what people think about the military, military funding, war, peace, justice, etc., the repeal of DADT is a victory for GLBT folks in general. I’m not saying “wooo whoo, now gay people are included in the military and that means they will be accepted into society” (as though societal acceptance or “normalcy” is even a good thing, necessarily), but it is one more nail in the coffin of the extreme right and those that would use religion, hate, fear and misinformation to steer the entire country away from policies that include GLBT folks. And that’s a good thing. [Read more...]

Kagan Kerfuffle Exposes the Subtle Class Bias of Military Recruiting

John McCain’s editorial on the Kagan nomination got me thinking.  At issue, her move as dean of Harvard Law School denying military recruiters access to the campus Career Services Office.  McCain cites one beleaguered recruiter complaining that without this access, they were “relegated to wandering the halls in hopes that someone will stop and talk to us.”

Funny, recruiters have no problem meeting recruiting targets by wandering the halls (or streets, parks, gas stations, malls, and Wal-Marts) in low-income communities cruising for teenagers to sign on the dotted line.  Of course, there is less competition in this arena than in the post-grad job market of a Harvard law student, whose student body emerges equipped with a world-class education, awesome earning potential, and is still majority white, almost 70%.  McCain bristles at the thought of “white-shoe law firms” recruiting students, but not “one of its great institutions, the U.S. military.”

The damage done to military recruiting efforts by Kagan’s decision is a chimera, but the opportunity to resurrect a tired (and frankly a little pathetic) narrative of God & Country was too hard for Senate conservatives to resist.  When the best and the brightest (read: richest and whitest) don’t roll out the red carpet for military recruiters, it is an insult to the pedigree of military-political careerism and chickenhawks everywhere.  And John McCain won’t stand for it.

Burris Amendment Would Provide Military Women Access To Abortion In War Zones

If you’re not living under a rock, you’ve probably heard about efforts (and progress!) made to repeal the military’s Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy for gay servicemen and women. The compromise plan, which would allow the Pentagon to do away with the policy, is included in an 852 page Pentagon policy bill.

The House passed the bill, which included billions of dollars for overseas operations and other Pentagon programs. What’s overlooked, though, is a tiny little mandate tucked into the bill among the more hot button issues, like Iraq, Afghanistan, and DADT.

This “tiny little mandate” is not so tiny for the thousands of women that are serving their country, at home and abroad. This amendment, introduced by Roland Burris (D) of Illinois, would allow military hospitals to provide abortions to women in war zones. [Read more...]

Women to Begin Boarding Submarines in the Next Two Years

According to the Secretary of the Navy, women may soon be authorized access to the submarine experience. Two years to be exact. — Take that hegemony.

Women have a place on submarines, cigarettes do not, Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus said Tuesday afternoon during a visit of Kitsap facilities.

Mabus, the Navy’s top civilian leader, addressed policy changes and the Navy’s future during an interview at the Puget Sound Navy Museum.

Integrating women onto submarine crews is “absolutely the right thing to do,” he said. Congress has a few more days to reject the change, otherwise women will be serving beneath the sea within two years. Mabus said he’s gotten nothing but positive response from Congress and the community. [Read more...]

Military Familes & the New Afghanistan Surge

Half my heart
Like most political topics, the U.S. offensive in Afghanistan is a complicated issue, despite attempts on all sides to reduce its complexity so that the situation can best be spun to suit a given ideology. As much as I would like for it to be as simple as “get us the hell out of there,” I’m just not sure that’s realistic or even possible any more than “lets kick some ass over there so we don’t have to fight them here” is.

The fact of the matter is that the world is a mess. Granted, much of the trouble has been caused and is being perpetuated by flawed U.S. foreign policy. But it is a mess, nonetheless. I have to be extra clear here: I was not in favor of the original invasion of Afghanistan or that of Iraq. In fact, invading Afghanistan after 9/11 made about as much sense to me as bombing Michigan would have after Oklahoma City.

Unfortunately, my friends, that ship has sailed. And we have not, even by getting rid of W, managed to instigate any large scale strategic shifts on the part of the U.S. government, at least as far as Afghanistan is concerned (Iraq is another matter, for another day). So. Fact number 2–for good or ill, Afghanistan is our problem and that problem is getting bigger by the moment.

[Read more...]

DADT – A Story of Discrimination in the US Air-force Academy

DADT discriminatesKevin Calderwood, a passionate friend and ally to the community, came to me with a story of a friend intimately affected by the ‘Don’t Ask Don’t Tell’ policy. Rather then attempt to represent his words, I would rather you read them for yourself. Kevin Calderwood is a full time student at Southern Illinois University, double majoring in political science and history. When he isn’t busy winning national championships in parliamentary debate, he’s committed to organizing and repealing the DADT. Here are his words.

I am writing this in a state of mind where I am upset and angry, so I apologize in advance if I am not making a lot of sense. For the last several years I have felt the need for the United States armed forces to allow gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and trans identified people to openly serve in the military. Until now, however, I have not been active on the issue beyond voting for politicians that have promised to repeal DADT. Most people in life are not active on political issues until they truly effect you or people you know. I have a friend that is a fully commissioned officer in the United States Air Force that is under threat of a dishonorable discharge and huge financial loss, not to mention all the horrors he has experienced because of the life he was forced to lead secretly. [Read more...]

Friday News Roundup

mouse2EEOC Holds Employer Responsible For Discriminating Against DV Victim – Legal Momentum
The Military’s War on Lesbians – Broadsheet @ Salon.com
The Female Condom 2 is Here – Feministing
Dreams of a Feminist Business – Feministing
Hate Crimes Bill a Step Closer to Obama’s Desk – Gaypolitics.com

Is it just me or is it homophobic in here?!

Photo0141My posting intentions this week were seriously sidetracked late last night when I received a startling text message from a friend. The text message included an attached photo [inset] with the simple words: “I don’t know what to do. Should I call the police? I’m scared.”

I was floored. There seems to be a blatant increase of gay-bashing/LGBT-based hate crime incidents as of late and it is, in my opinion, not surprising considering the overall atmosphere that we are living in now. Hell I was the victim of a verbal assault twice over the past 2 weeks and I have heard others citing similar accounts all over this “great nation.” [Read more...]