Tag Archives: Don’t Ask Don’t Tell

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 Among the questions in the study were:  “If don’t ask, don’t tell is repealed and you are working with a service member in your immediate unit who has said he or she is gay or lesbian, how would that affect your own ability to fulfill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Either way, the government asked for a stay so that the legislative  moves could be made and that the law could be repealed.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.
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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.