Thursday, September 28, 2006

SLDN reports four new sponsor for HR 1059, bill to repeal "Don't Ask Don't Tell"

Servicemembers Legal Defense Network had 4 additional Representatives sign on to H.R. 1059:
Bill Pascrell, Jr (NJ-8) [Dem]
John Conyers, Jr. (MI-14) [Dem]
Richard Neal (MA-2) [Dem] – the full Massachusetts delegation has now signed on to H.R. 1059
Rob Simmons (CT-2) [Rep] – we now have 6 Republicans on the bill.

Link to my letter to Rep Jim Moran (D-VA 8th Dist) July 26, 2005, including Mr. Moran's reply.

Link to original sponsor Marty Meehan's page on HR 1059

Bill summary link on Thomas

text of bill

The picture here is a photo of Fort McNair in SE Washington DC, where President Clinton first announced "don't ask don't tell" on July 19, 1993


Log Cabin and SLDN are also partnering for a party event late Saturday afternoon in Washington Oct. 7. The details are here. This apparently happens just before the HRC Annual Dinner also in Washington that evening.

House Parties to Vote No on Marshall-Newman in Va.

The Commonwealth Coalition of VA reports that it raised $30000 at house parties across Virginia On Thurs. Sept 21 to Vote No against the Marshall-Newman amendment, which would not only ban same sex marriage in Va, but legal recognition for any arrangements that approximate marriage. Former Governor Mark Warner appeared in Alexandria, and Andrew Sullivan appeared in Arlington.

The organization is looking for 100 hosts in an effort to raise at least $100000 quickly. Volunteers may email houseparties at

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

HRC has National Dinner on Saturday Oct 7 2006 in Washington DC

The Human Rights Campaign will sponsor the National Dinner on Oct 7 2006 at the new Washington Convention Center at 801 Mount Vernon Pl NW, Washington DC, in the Grand Ballroom. The website is here.

Guests include former Mississippi-raised and 'NSync member Lance Bass, who receives an HRC Visibility Award. Bass came out publicly recently and was featured in People I actually attended an 'NSync concert in the Hubert Humphrey Metrodome in Minneapolis on June 24, 2001, which ironically was the Sunday night of Gay Pride Weekend in Loring Park. (I lived in Minneapolis 1997-2003.) The concert was called "Popodyssey" and featured many circus-like acts with the five men working as an almost military-like team. (One of their videos featured them pretending to be toy soldiers, which again may have had a hidden political message.)

Frank Kameny will also be present. Kameny was fired from the government as an astronomer in a civilian civil service job around 1957 after he was called in and asked if he was a homosexual. Kameny has been particularly active in the civilian security clearance issue over the years.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Military would probably look at social networking sites, especially with ROTC students

We've heard a lot of media reports in the past six months about employers checking the social networking site profiles, personal weblogs, and search engine tracks of job applicants. I think it is pretty obvious that the military can do this with soldiers. College students on ROTC scholarships or graduate students on military pay (to go to law school or especially medical school) would be at particular risk.

I haven't heard a lot of specific reports about this yet. But back in the mid 1990s even there were visible discharges for soldiers and sailors for "outing themselves" in AOL profiles (which at the time were the rage, much like facebook and myspace today). One famous case around 1996 was a sailor Timothy McVeigh (a different person than the individual associated with OKC), who actually had an anonynous profile in which he outed himself, but was disclosed by a civilian. A judge actually enjoined his discharge.

Today, a military-sponsored student or cadet who outs himself or herself on a profile and is on a scholarship might, in some situations, face a tuition recoupment suit.

All of this begs the question about what the original policy should have been. The Clinton administration, with its Feb 1994 Pentagon memo, had tried to portray the DADT policy as relatively benign, that it would not "pursue". We all know that such a "promise" would be repeatedly broken over the years with various witchhunts. But also think back to that time, which was just before it was becoming more common for people to use the Internet to promote themselves.

At the time, I even imagined a "don't publicize" policy as being reasonable. A person in the Armed Services could reasonably be expected not to publicize a gay sexual orientation because that could create a disturbance within a otherwise cohesive military unit. Such was the Powell/Nunn/Moskos theory that many have questioned.

Since then, the technology for online self-publishing, personal domains, weblogs and social networking sites (let alone chat) has exploded. People feel that if they are online at all, they want to be candid about who they are. Anything else would show a lack of integrity.

Maybe we should bite the bullet and simply say that people with sensitive jobs should not identify themselves online at all, at least on their own. I have explored that idea elsewhere. Nevertheless, we all know that blogging by military members from combat areas, especially Iraq, is common, and has added valuable journalism to the public.

This is a bit of a conundrum. But so is the larger debate over the way the public and employers are perceiving personal weblogs and social networking site profiles. It is reasonable, perhaps, to expect teens and young adults to show some restraint as they are starting their careers and making themselves credible. One notion that I hear from older people is that younger people should not be heard from in public (and should not make themselves known as individuals in public) until they have some responsibility for others. Who owns one's right of publicity? His employer? His family? Himself? Herself?

Thursday, September 14, 2006

NYTimes revives some debate on military "don't ask don't tell"

Some visitors may be familiar with the fact that I got in to book writing and publishing in the 1990s because of this issue. Specifically, not just the notorious military "don't ask don't tell" policy codified into law in 1993, but the fact that the policy traces to other paradigms known from civilian life, such as my own expulsion from William and Mary in 1961 for telling the Dean of Men that I was a "latent homosexual". Some visitors are familiar with my doaskdotell website that has many of the details.

The 1993 debate brought up a lot of difficult concepts that we think of as "thoughtcrime" (or perhaps "pre-crime" as in the famous 2002 science fiction film Minority Report). That is, that a "propensity" to commit a forbidden act can be legally acted upon, although the mark has the right to "rebuttable presumption."

The other big issue was personal identity and openness. In earlier times, gay rights were defended as a "right to privacy" issue. The psychology of all of this has turned around in the age of the Internet, where openness and personal pride about one's psycholgoical goals become paramout.

The DADT policy has been challenged in court, but so far it has always lost at the appellate level. There is a long detailed history, but there are more challenges.

Today (9/14/2006), The New York Times has a story on p A12 by Lizette Alvarez, "Gay Groups Renew Drive Against 'Don't Ask Don't Tell'". In Madison, WI (not exactly a bastion of red state social attitudes) John Alaniz, Derek House and Justin Hager showed up at an Army recruiting station, announcing their sexual orientation openly. By law, the recruiter had to turn them away.

Military recruiters no longer may ask recruits their sexual orientation, but recruiters may given them a policy statement to sign that they understand the DADT policy. The newspaper article goes on to render an effective summary of the debate today. The military is practicing essentially a backdoor draft with forced return tours to Iraq and Afghanistan, even with National Guard enlistees. Today, the military needs quality recruits, and might be able to take someone with a record when it cannot take an openly gay person with no record. The military is often the most effective career opening opportunity for minorties and the economically disadvantaged. And sometimes the Policy invites persons who do not want to stay in the service to declare that they are gay just to get out. About 85% of those discharged had declared their sexual orientation openly, according to the story.

The article mentions the major legal services organzation dealing with this issue: the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network. I have been a supporter since 1994, and once a year SLDN has an "end the witch-hunts" fundraising dinner (now in May).

Other resources in include the Center for the Studies of Sexual Minorities in the Military at the University of California at Santa Barbara, and Stanford's Law Library on DADT, Service Academy Gay and Lesbian, Alumni, and the Military Education Initiative.

Monday, September 11, 2006

CA school bill watered down

In an attempt to overcome the governor's veto, SB1437 has been watered down just to prohibit materials that go out of their way to portray people negatively based on sexual orientation or gender identity. This is the law already for many other categories.

Greg Lucas, of the San Francisco Chronicle Sacramento Bureau, has a detailed discussion at this
link at (the Chronicle website).

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Opposing Viewpoints series: I have a contribution

I also have an essay in Greenhaven Press's "Opposing Viewpoints" series, about teaching about gay issues in high school.

The book title is "Teenage Sexuality". The publisher is Greenhaven in Michigan, and the editor is Ken R. Wells.

I have the pro side; the con side is quite graphic and emotional. The Amazon link is at this link.

The Library of Congress link is this.
(I am on p. 183).

I have more discussion about this and the opposing essay at this link.

AK Supreme Court overturns ban on gay foster parents

In June 2006 the Arkansas Supreme Court turned down a regulation that bans gay foster parents, but polls show a lot of the public still would have favored the ban. There is an account by Betsy Turner in the Arkansas News Bureau at this link.

I understand that an appeal of the ruling is not likely, but I am trying to find out more .

VA Marshall-Newman Amendment on same-sex marriage

The Commonwealth Coalition of Virginia is mounting a vigorous attack against the Marshall Newman amendment referendum, which would prohibit any legal recognition of any arrangement between any two persons other than a man and woman that approximates marriage. There is a lot of concern about unintended consequences of the amendment.

The Commonwealth Coalition has worked heavily with Equality Virginia.

Various judges and conservative groups have argued that a constitutional amendment trying to define marriage is bad for "governance" and could actually harm businesses or other persons outside the GLBT community or drive business away from Virginia.

There is a more detailed posting on my "Major Issues" blog.

CA School Bill non-discrimination bill vetoed

On Sept. 7 2006, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed Senate Bill 1437, the Bias-Free Curriculum Act, authored by Senator Shelia Kuehl (D-Santa Monica) and sponsored by Equality California (EQCA). A simple nondiscrimination measure, SB 1437 would have extended existing laws prohibiting discrimination on the bases of race, sex, disability, nationality, and religion in textbooks, instructional materials, and school sponsored activities, to include sexual orientation and gender identity (as categories of people for whom discrimination would not be allowed).

On May 24, 2006, Governor Schwarzenegger had announced that he would veto an earlier version of this bill. The earlier bill would have required inclusion of the roles and contributions of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people in history and social science curriculum.

For details, go to Equality California.

Presentation of homosexuality as a topic for social studies or even biology class materials has always been controversial. Groups opposing such presentation potentially have a large effect on textbook publishers.

Welcome to Bill on GLBT issues

This blog will keep track of news events covering such issues as gay marriage/civil unions, gays in the military ("don't ask don't tell") and in other sensitive jobs (teachers, security clearances, etc), and other family issues such as adoption and foster care.

Some posts of more general mainstream interest are placed on a related "Major Issues" blog. Postings on this blog will tend to be more narrowly tailored to the GLBT community.