Tag Archives: DADT

Pastor Fired for Linking to Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Story on Facebook

14 Oct

With so many stories of anti-gay teachers posting hateful things on their facebook walls, and a new campaign launched by the National Organization for Marriage, aiming to make victims out of bigots and defending their right to practice hatred towards LGBT people, you’d expect better when the tables were turned.

Blogger John Shore received a troubling email a few nights ago. A straight pastor who is married with 3 kids (and one on the way) was fired after posting a link to an article about the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell on his facebook wall. The pastor is receiving a severance package from the church, but that will end should he speak out publicly about his firing. With a large family and a baby due in December, unfortunately, losing his severance is not an option.

The pastor’s email said (in part):

“…Four weeks ago the discriminatory law of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” was finally abolished. Even though no one in my church community was aware of my views on homosexuality (I have been intentionally tight-lipped about it, knowing how divisive that issue is), and I’ve never talked about it, I felt like it was good to celebrate the end of discrimination. So I posted a link to an article about the end of DADT on my Facebook page. I made no commentary on the article–which was not about the “issue” of homosexuality at all…”

“Over the next few hours, several people from my church started commenting on my wall: “How can a Christian be pro-homosexuality?” “Why is a pastor actively promoting the gay-lifestyle?” and so on. Even more people were calling/texting/emailing our lead pastor and the chair of our elder board.”

“What resulted over the next six days was not fun. The chair of the elder board called for an emergency board meeting to deal with me. I was summoned to the board meeting, where I was forced to give my stance on homosexuality (even though the church has no official stance on the matter, and has never before talked about the issue). And even though I reminded them that we all agree on our church’s statement of faith, ultimately, when they learned that I don’t view homosexuality as a sin, and that I would be in favor of two gay people being allowed to get married, they came to the conclusion that I was unfit to be a pastor at [Name of Church]. And within a week of posting the article on FB page, I was fired from a church I’d served faithfully and helped to build for five years…”

“…Right now, three weeks after being fired, I have so many conflicting emotions. I’m devastated at being fired. I’m angry at the process by which it was done. I was just eliminated almost immediately. In the eyes of the church body and the staff I essentially just disappeared. I was there one week, and not the next. It’s made me feel like a leper, like someone who committed some heinous sin and had to be “dealt” with. I’m disappointed that the church I’d loved and served and believed in ultimately came up short. I desperately wanted [Name of Head Pastor] to stand by me, and say to the board and to the negative people in the church, “[Guy’s Name] and I agree on what it means to follow Jesus. We agree on the essentials of the faith. And we have done ministry together for five years, and I want to continue to serve alongside him. We disagree on things, on non-essential elements of the faith–and you know what? That’s okay! We celebrate our unity in the faith, and we welcome different viewpoints and beliefs.” That’s what I wanted; that’s what I hoped for…”

I can’t help but wonder (if the pastor could come forward) if Maggie Gallagher and the National Organization for Marriage would stand up for this man’s 1st amendment rights? Or are they only committed to those rights if they are protecting bigots who refuse to do their jobs and teach children intolerance and hatred?

Advertisements

Out Voices: David Mixner

18 Aug

It’s not often that you get to meet your heroes, nevermind become their friend. This post will be the first in a series highlighting LGBT people who have worked to break down barriers between our community and the freedom we require.

I didn’t come to join the real fight for LGBT equality until later in my 20s and one of the first names I heard when I first started looking for the leaders of this movement was David Mixner.

Newsweek once called him the most powerful gay man in America, David has been a political strategist, activist, author, storyteller, meteorology expert – you name it. And if you’ve ever had the opportunity to hear him speak, you’d see why I and thousands of others call him a hero.

It was David who called for the recent National Equality March. And upon seeing this big bear of a man in a suit and shades speaking in front of the Capitol on that hot-as-blazes October afternoon, I felt like I was being handed a torch of sorts. What I didn’t know then was that David was very ill – his health had been compromised during one of many humanitarian trips to Africa and doctors still don’t really know what’s wrong. But he showed up to the march (very much against doctor’s orders) because as he puts it – “Ain’t nothin’ in the world that was gonna keep me from that march.”

A few months later, while accepting an award from the Point Foundation, David had this to say about the march and the state of the movement today:

“For those of you who weren’t at the march on Washington…It was the young who led us. It was 70% under 30 years of age. From students on campuses all over this planet, coming to Washington to demand equality now, insisting that nobody had any right to negotiate away their freedom away in the political backrooms. Insisting that they wanted a family, to be married, immigration protection, they didn’t want to pay the “gay tax.” They wanted full equality and they didn’t understand why we had to wait on someone’s political timeline.”

“We have to understand that organizations like GetEQUAL and other organizations run by our young people have a new way now. They have a new way and we have to be careful not to add burdens on their shoulders. Theyre not gonna do things the way I did. They’re not gonna do things the way some of you did. They’re not going to listen to counsels of patience and words that say “you have to understand why we can’t do this now.” Because they don’t understand. They don’t understand why they can’t be free people.”

“So I plead with you for an old timer who’s been doing this 50 years. Get out of their way. Get out of their way. Our young people…how many rooms have I been in for how many years saying “why aren’t are young doing anything?” Well, they are doing something now. Support them. Raise their bail money. Cheer them on. Tell them their right and tell them we love ‘em and we’re proud of them.”

While David has served and continues to serve our community as a leader, it is vitally important to him that the next generation takes it’s place in the fight for our equality. And it’s that true love for equality and the vital need he has for the next generation to be equal that makes me love him.

This week, David celebrates a birthday and while a lady would never reveal another lady’s age, we are very proud to wish this true American hero the very best in the coming days, weeks and years. Thank you, David for fighting for us and for breaking down so many of the barriers that allow us to be who we are today. Salut!

If you have not read David’s book, “Stranger Among Friends,” please click on the link and order your copy now.

David Mixner and Me

DADT Repeal Stay Lifted – “No Reason to Delay Certification” Says Former Marine

6 Jul

DADT Repeal Rally at The White House - May 2, 2011 (Photo by Jamie McGonnigal, Equalityphotography.com)

Last year, before Congress voted to repeal the military’s discriminatory Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy, there was a federal district court which had already found the policy to be unconstitutional. The lawsuit, filed by the Log Cabin Republicans was what lit the fire under the Administration and Congress to pass the repeal as quickly as possible.

This was all happening while the highly controversial and very questionable “study” on military readiness was being handed out to service members and their families. Among the questions in the study were:  “If don’t ask, don’t tell is repealed and you are working with a service member in your immediate unit who has said he or she is gay or lesbian, how would that affect your own ability to fulfill your mission during combat?” Respondents answered with a range of responses from “very positively” to “very negatively,” as well as “no effect” or “don’t know.” What I always found most interesting is that troops were being polled about who I have a relationship with and how that affects their daily routine, but when it comes to something actually important, like…say…”Do you believe we should send you off to an unjust war for which the country can find no actual motivation – where you will more than likely lose your life or at least one of your limbs?” the military sees no need to poll troops.

Either way, the government asked for a stay so that the legislative  moves could be made and that the law could be repealed. But what happened is that many concessions were made on the repeal and the condition on which final repeal would be approved would be that the chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Defense Secretary and the President would need to sign off on the repeal once the necessary training was completed to allow for gays and lesbians to serve openly. Naturally, they’ve been dragging their feet on this certification.

But today, an order from the lower court that initially found in favor of the Log Cabin Republicans and found DADT to be unconstitutional has lifted the stay on implementation of repeal.

Alex Nicholson, Executive Director for Servicemembers United, the nation’s largest organization of gay and lesbian troops and veterans and the lead plaintiff in the Log Cabin Republicans vs. USA case told Talk About Equality:

“With the wait for certification dragging out beyond a reasonable time frame, the Court has once again stepped in to require the Pentagon to stop enforcing ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,’ and this time it very well may be for good. I am proud to have worked personally worked with Log Cabin on this case for more than five years now and to have represented the gay military community as the sole named veteran in this lawsuit. Despite the criticisms and years of waiting, this case has yet again successfully eviscerated this outdated, harmful, and discriminatory law.”

Fmr US Army Captain Tonya Domi and Fmr Marine Justin Crockett Elzie (Photo by Jamie McGonnigal, EqualityPhotography.com)

And Justin Elzie, the first Marine to be fired under the discriminatory law, and author of “Playing By the Rules” told us:

“I think it is a great thing and since DADT Training is nearly complete, then now is the time for the Obama administration to do the right thing and not continue to fight against repeal in the courts and let this stand and certify repeal immediately.  There is no reason to delay certification or fight this ruling.”

Nicholson added:

Nicholson added, “Servicemembers should still remain extremely cautious with information regarding their sexual orientation for the time being. The issue remains in a state of flux, although guarded optimism is certainly warranted.”
For more information about Servicemembers United and the gay military community, please visit their new home on the web at www.servicemembers.org.

Status Update Reveals Story of Fallen Gay Soldier

11 Mar

Some of you may have caught this recent status update on facebook in the past 24 hours, pitting the media coverage of Charlie Sheen’s mental deterioration against it’s lack of coverage of fallen soldiers this week. It reads something like this:

“Charlie Sheen is all over the news because he’s a celebrity drug addict,” it said, “while Andrew Wilfahrt 31, Brian Tabada 21, Rudolph Hizon 22, Chauncy Mays 25, are soldiers who gave their lives this week with no media mention. Please honor them by posting this as your status for a little while.”

CNN Blogger Wayne Drash decided to do some research and hopefully give some of these brave heroes their due in whatever way he could. He began by calling the father of Cpl. Andrew Wilfahrt, who agreed with the viral posting.

Cpl. Andrew Charles Wilfahrt

Jeff Wilfahrt agreed with the viral posting and gave the blogger a little backround on his son. He told him of some of Andrew’s likes and dislikes, including the fact that he was anti-war among other things. and then he added: “He was a gay soldier.”

“He didn’t have a child and a wife,” Jeff Wilfahrt said. “In a way, he went over so that somebody with a young family wouldn’t die.”

“I’m so proud of him and his service.”

His voice breaks. It’s likely his son is among the first gay soldiers to die in combat since Don’t Ask Don’t Tell was repealed in December. “I’d do anything to honor my son.”

Please take the time to read this entire piece and share the background and story behind this supposedly innocuous facebook status update.

 

h/t: TAE Friend, Kappy Griffith

The Ghosts of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell: Moving Forward

15 Nov

In a historic protest at the White House moments ago, 13 people were arrested after chaining themselves to the White House fence.  Three generations of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell activists participated in this monumental action.  Present among the demonstrators were several men and women who’ve been arrested in similar demonstrations over the decades, including the first famous Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell protest in the 90’s, and this year’s subsequent White House DADT protests.

Former Servicemembers who were arrested in April during protests at the same location, spoke to Talk About Equality about why they were returning:

“I feel we have come to a critical juncture where we need leadership from Obama and Senator Reid to get rid of this horrible policy.  I am here today because being the first Marine discharged under this policy I feel we need to send a signal to the White House and the Senate to finally do the right thing for LGBT servicemembers and pass the repeal in the Defense Authorization Bill.” Says Justin Elzie, the first Marine discharged under Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, to Talk About Equality.

Here is the full list of demonstrators who were arrested today:

Lt. Dan Choi, Petty Officer Autumn Sandeen,Cpl. Evelyn Thomas, and Cadet Mara Boyd.  All four were arrested in front of the White house in April protesting Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.

Robin McGehee, co-founder and director of GetEQUAL.

Former U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Miriam Ben-Shalom, who was discharged in 1976 and was the first LGBT servicemember reinstated to her position in the U.S. Military, by a U.S. Federal District Court. On July 30th, 1993, Miriam and 26 other protesters were arrested at the White House fence for protesting Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.

Former U.S. Marine Corps Sergean, Justin Elzie who, in 1993, became the first Marine ever investigated and discharged under the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law.

Former Army Arabic Linguist Ian Finkenbinder, who was discharged from the Army in December 2004.

U.S. Army Veteran and Repeal Advocate Rob Smith, who was deployed to both Iraq and Kuwait before being honorably discharged after deciding not to re-enlist in the U.S. Army due to the added pressure of living under the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law.

Father Geoff Farrow, a Catholic priest who spoke out against the church’s official stance in support of California’s Proposition 8, removing the rights of same-sex couples to marry.

Scott Wooledge, a New York-based LGBT civil rights advocate and blogger who has written extensively on the movement to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” at Daily Kos and Pam’s House Blend.

Michael Bedwell, long-time LGBT civil rights advocate, close friend of Leonard Matlovich, and administrator of the site www.leonardmatlovich.com

Dan Fotou, an Organizer with GetEqual.

Civil rights activist, writer and speaker David Mixner told LGBTPOV upon the 17th Anniversary of the first DADT White House arrests:

“There was no question among those of us arrested that DADT was a horrible policy.  Am extremely proud of doing the right thing then and extremely proud of those doing the right thing today.”

This action culminates one day of advocacy for Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell repeal.  The big push needs to come from all of us in the remaining few weeks of this Congressional calendar.  Don’t let these 13 have sacrificed in vain.

Intro to Direct Action 101.

22 Oct

Meet Tonei Glavinic, a collegiate LGBT organizer. Below is a guest post about Tonei’s introduction to Direct Action:

Last week, I participated in a direct action with a national grassroots LGBT rights organization called GetEQUAL. GetEQUAL isn’t much like other nonprofits I’ve worked with in the past. They don’t write policy or file lawsuits. Instead, they take to the streets, the White House, and Congressional offices to put pressure on Democrats who have been getting elected and funded for years on a platform of achieving civil equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people, but have failed to deliver.

Until this weekend, I thought GetEQUAL was kind of obnoxious.

One major source of this feeling was that some of GetEQUAL’s supporters have in the past been extremely critical and dismissive of the work that national organizations do, which frustrated me because I was working with these groups and was directly involved in a lot of important efforts that are leading to or have already led to positive change. I reacted to this by in turning dismissing GetEQUAL as a bunch of misguided activists who weren’t actually doing anything productive to make a difference, and were perhaps actually damaging our efforts by angering people who were supposed to be our champions on Capitol Hill.

But when a friend of mine gave me the opportunity to travel to Miami to participate in an action, I jumped at it. I’d never been to Florida before, and it sounded like it could be fun.

The action itself was rather elaborate (you can read the plans and the AP article), but my role was simple: go with a team holding banners outside the entrance to the estate where Obama was holding a massive fundraiser for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, and take pictures and video.

You wouldn’t think that this would be a particularly empowering experience, but when I captured President Obama on film directly acknowledging us (I was at that point holding up the center of a banner, while my camera sat on top of a police car), I realized the important purpose that GetEQUAL serves.

All of our policy work is incredibly important, and change couldn’t happen in our government without it, but somebody has to keep our issues at the forefront of the President’s mind – and GetEQUAL can let Obama and the Democrats know that we’re not going away anytime soon in ways that policy organizations can’t.

This by itself wouldn’t have been enough to change my mind about the organization. It was the conversations I had with other activists and GetEQUAL co-founder Robin McGehee that made me realize that the organization itself was very supportive of the work of many other national advocacy groups.

While I still have a few unresolved qualms about the organization itself (specifically the recent sudden firing of a friend of mine without notice), that weekend definitely changed my opinion of GetEQUAL’s work – and direct action in general – as an important piece of the larger movement for LGBT civil rights and social justice.

Tonei Glavinic is an Alaskan queer activist at American University in Washington, DC. For more information or to contact Tonei, visit frozenactivist.net.