Friday, August 31, 2007

IA: Same-sex marriage ban struck down by state district court

In the case Varnum v. Brien, state district court has ruled that Iowa's law banning marriage for same-sex couples is unconstitutional given provisions in the Iowa constitution for equal protection of the law. Brien is the Polk County recorder.

The couples are Kate 34 and Trish Varnum 42; David Twombley 66 and Larry Hoch 65; Dawn 39 and Jen BarbouRoske 37; Ingrid Olson 29 and Rita Evans 37; Jason Morgan 37 and Chuck Swaggerty 35; Bill Mussler and Otter Dreaming 50.

The Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund LLDEF link is this. A detailed history is at this link.

Polk County is in the middle of the state, and includes the largest city Des Moines, about 200 miles south of Minneapolis on I-35. This is the first same-sex marriage "win" in the midwest.

According to CNN, Sean Fritz and Tim McQuillan got a wedding license, and some dozen more were waiting to apply with the reporter, under a stay was issued pending appeal to the Iowa Supreme Court. Story.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

The gay male blood donation issue: a revisit

Very often, major media outlets in most cities report shortages in donated blood, especially plasma, and issue appeals for blood donation, particularly after local disasters.

Since around 1982, blood donation is one area where there is mandatory “asking.” Men who admit that they have had sexual relations with other men since 1977 are deferred from donating blood. I remember learning about this at an AIDS information forum put on by the Dallas Gay Alliance as early as late 1982 at the local Metropolitan Community Church.

In the years before the rather sudden appearance of AIDS (originally called GRID), community efforts even then had encouraged blood donation from everyone, including being a “super donor” of platelets or for bone marrow transplants, which then were more experimental. Some gay men donated large volumes of plasma in the development of a Hepatitis B vaccine, which in those days was a big deal and the largest health threat faced by gay men before AIDS appeared.

As far as I can tell, the absolute ban on gay men as blood donations continues today. It applies only to men. Lesbians are not affected, as they were not particularly at risk of acquiring HIV or any blood-borne agents. (Lesbians, as a whole, have few sexually transmitted diseases.)

I was particularly embarrassed about this issue at work in the early 1990s when working for a company that sells life insurance for the military when a male coworker approached me about participating in a company blood drive and as inquisitive as to my self-deferral.

Socially, the “ban” can be perceived as defamatory. Like the military gay ban, it can imply that gay men cannot “pay their dues” and carry their fare share of community obligations. At, worse, unlike the military ban, it is gender specific.

Since about 2000 there have been increasing calls that the ban should be lifted, and that blood donation centers should become comfortable with relying on blood tests for HIV, which are mostly antibody tests (Elisa, Western Blot) but which could include antigen tests. The tests have improved as to specificity and sensitivity. There is some mathematical concern, however, on relying on a test where most results will be negative when applied to the general population. Of course, there are other bloodborne diseases tested (Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C) and there may exist the speculative concern that some new virus could suddenly appear and be amplified by certain chain-linked behaviors before tests could detect it.

There are other categories of self-deferral, such as for prostitution, or for women who have had sex with “gay men” but these are not as permanent.

Reportedly, the Red Cross is open to changing the rules and letting gay men who have been abstinent for long periods donate. Here is a reference at "Defending the Truth."

Here is a 2006 writeup on the issue from The Stanford Daily, "Banned from the Blood Bank: Restrictions on Blood Donation Cause Controversy," by Marie-Jo Mont-Reynaud.

Here is an original 1986 paper from the Centers for Disease Control.

Here is my 1999 article on the subject. I personally believe it is time to revisit this issue and consider allowing donations for men who have been abstinent for some length of time greater than any window period undetectable by tests.

Update: Sept 17, 2007

NBC Nightly News presented a "pay it forward" plan on kidney donations, and it's important to note that a ban on organ donations (usually posthumous) would also apply in a manner similar to the blood donation ban.

Update: Nov. 14, 2007

There are media reports that four people became infected with HIV after organ donations from someone who did not test positive and who may have been infected too soon before death. The New York Times story is by Denise Grady, Nov. 13, 2007, "Four Transplant Recipients Contract H.I.V.", here.

Update: Feb. 1, 2008

ABC WJLA news at noon reports that about 37% of adults are eligible to donate in the United States, but only 5% of adults actually give blood.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Sen. Larry Craig: "I am not gay!" (...they always are)

So, once again, “those Republicans” implode on scandal and their own personal hypocrisy, it seems. This time, Senator Larry Craig (R-ID), stands up in front of reporters and issues his denial. “I am not gay. I have never been gay.”

No wonder. He comes from the second most Mormon state, from a culture that sees marriage and children and openness to transmitting life as a moral obligation, both as payback, as a ticket to a preferred existence in the afterlife (eternal marriage) and even as a component of respect for life, in a culture that views loyalty to the group and family as a prerequisite for anything else. When that is so, “changing” or “pretending to change” becomes necessary. It's interesting that a culture with so much psychological socialism and community would demand that men "compete" to see who is the best provider for his progeny.

Of course, the scandal brings back memories of Walter Jenkins in the Johnson Administration in 1964. Craig was arrested in a men’s room in the Minneapolis-St. Paul airport – in a city as far from the right wing as you can get – in an ordinary police sting for lewd conduct, on Blue Monday June 11 (remember that 60's song about that day of the week?). He plead guilty to make it “go away.” As Jeffrey Toobin noted on CNN, his explanation now is hardly credible; Toobin points out that even though what he pleaded to is a misdemeanor, it is still a crime and "you can't serve in the Senate if you're a convicted criminal" (what about minor traffic tickets?) Psychiatrists deny that this is a “cry for help”; it is more a stretching to see what one can get away with in terms of eroticism. And now he faces calls for resignation.

Of course, gay activists see this as a symptom of “the closet” – Le Placard, as it is called in that French comedy (2001, Fraicois Verber)). Men in the closet are forced by default to misbehave in public spaces. As far as conservative politicians in the closest when they get caught – they have their loyal wives beside their side (The Washington Post online has such a picture today). As for being married, “They always are.” In fact, Craig had been a bachelor for a long time, and was criticized (because of the culture he comes from). However, now he is married and reportedly has three children. Today, the notorious Idaho Statesman has a story by Rocky Barber, “Sen. Larry Craig asks forgiveness; Senate seeks ethics probe”.

Actually, as I recall, Mark Foley (from Florida), defrocked in 2006 when exposed by a lone blogger in the Congressional Page “non-scandal,” was single. (The exposure, started by one blogger Lane Hudson (check this ), acting on his own without compensation, may have turned the entire 2006 mid term election. That was certainly a valuable public service.! One man, acting alone, did more than entire organizations like HRC, which actually fired him. But that’s how it is in a flat world.) So it “ain’t so” that “they always are.” But what seems true is that the most vocal social moralists in Congress and elsewhere in politics seem to have lots of secrets and lies. Dem Republicans! The High and the Mighty do fall, and that does not include The Duke.

Update: On Thursday Aug 30 major media sources made the intimate and embarrassing police tapes available ("I am a fairly wide guy...."), and they quickly became the butt of late night comedy reenactments. The calls for his resignation within the GOP continue to mount with no exceptions. Some attorneys on CNN commented that he might have been able to defend himself in a trial since it was just a "one on one" case.

Sen. Craig is announced his resignation from the United States Senate from Boise (a city infamous in the 50s!) Sat. Sept. 1 at 12:30 EDT, effective Sept. 30. But hecklers in the crowd demanded that he leave right now.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

"Equal rights for gays" -- not everyone gets the abstraction

“Equal rights for gays” is very much an abstraction and, in practice, very much a matter of one’s own perception, experience, and balance between intellect and emotion. The yellow and blue HRC trademark boils down to a symbol something that is complex in practice, and meaningless to a lot of people.

Ever since Stonewall, at least the period starting in the early 1970s, much of the world of business and employment accepted the idea of individuals as “equals” and that private lives should le left home. This was particularly the case as technology and information-based jobs, very dependent on individual contribution, care and performance, became more visible in the economy. Perhaps this experience reached its apex in the pre-Y2K 1990s with the “war for talent” and with businesses extolling the virtues of cultural pluralism and diversity in the workplace. They had to.

Even so, cracks appeared. Some (although by no means all) workers with larger families tended to expect singles and childless people to do some of their share of oncall coverage, which was not always compensated. Brian McNaught wrote about this in his 1993 book from St. Martins, Gays Issues in the Workplace. Organizations like LLDEF added to rhetoric already known from women’s issues: “equal pay for equal work.”

At the same time, two major political issues were underscoring the lack of legal equality: gays in the military and the “don’t ask don’t tell” policy, and gay marriage (and the sub-issue civil unions and domestic partnerships) and the lack of equal benefits for same-sex partners. Yet the rhetoric, however well-intended and carefully spun, of gay rights organizations like HRC seemed to miss the deeper points of what was starting to happen.

Two (or more) big things started to happen. First, the Internet (and other media expansion) made society more “open.” (Think how Google can shred “don’t ask don’t tell.”) The information explosion goes bird-in-hand with “flat world” globalization, and all of the economic dislocations and sometimes exploitations. But, second, a combination of adverse events, centered around 9/11 but including accounting scandals and natural disasters, as well as more reporting about global warming and potential pandemics, has made us more aware of the potential external threats to the way we live as autonomous, expressive individuals. Add to that is much wider media reporting of constant hardships faced by many families (many of these are medical), conveying the moral notion that hardships should be shared. Finally, demographics, with longer lives and fewer children, is making eldercare and family solidarity are more visible issue than ever before, especially for the childless and, very often, GLBT people.

I’ve often written about the tension between “public morality” and “individual sovereignty” or “personal autonomy” and that dichotomy gets addressed by libertarian speakers. “Public morality” deferred to blood family loyalty and was accepted as a virtue by earlier generations without much intellectual speculation. In retrospect, much of what we accepted intuitively as "moral immutable" protected the capacity of people to become and remain intimate with marital partners who were far from "perfect." It was easy for politicians and businessmen to exploit, and that led to much of the activism (particularly from the Left) starting with the Civil Rights movement. It also led to a new view where the individual was to be viewed on his own merits, not just as part of a family. That can leave a lot of people deserted, who in the older "system" of morality had been told that they had an "equal" chance for a lifelong monogamous marriage with family as long as everyone, besides remaining abstinent outside marriage and faithful within it, conformed to their need for emotional loyalty.

And that’s the rub. This view of things can strand some people. The natural reaction (in justifying an individualistic, "no fault" and "no harm principle" of gay equal rights) is to extend the definition of personal responsibility as the ability to take care of others when one is called upon or needed to do so. Equal rights and equal responsibilities go hand in hand. And it’s not hard to see how past discrimination drove gays away from family responsibility, and the circular arguments that are used to prevent gays from accepting responsibility (whether in the military or with gay marriage and adoption).

But they are arguments, and that is also part of the rub. Many people “experience” family in an organic way where they presume the blood loyalty of others (including giving them grandchildren -- is providing them part of "moral payback" when it doesn't come from one's own love?), and where that presumption gets deeply encoded into what they experience and enables them to remain faithful and active (this has a very biological component – sleep -- just think about it, no details here). Abstract intellectual notions just get in the way. That seems to create an impasse. But it's interesting how the deepest moments of interpersonal emotion in any relationship (marriage or not) seem to have more impact on others than we think.

Yet, we have to work this out, and we have to start talking about intergenerational fairness in new ways. This involves the childless, and we all should realize that family responsibility does not necessarily depend on having had one’s own children. Filial responsibility laws are starting to get attention from conservatives (check my Profile for link to my retirement blog for details), and they can be used to invade the lives of single adults who may have never experienced this kind of responsibility that families take for granted. It’s hard to see why gay organizations have missed the boat on this, unless they are afraid to mention them for fear that that debate will goad states, anxious to save Medicaid money, into enforcing them. Imagine the complicated issues that could come up with only children, or among siblings where one is gay and/or childless.

One particularly disturbing aspect of the growing “involuntary family responsibility” problem concerns how young gay men feel about the societal role expected of them as “protector” and “provider.” In deeper recesses of the Internet, on various message boards, some of them say pretty horrifying things about what they would go through to be relieved of this “responsibility.” (No, I won’t give the explicit links here.) They have grown into a society that looks at male aggressive and competitiveness as an essential virtue. But much of the socialization demanded of “differently wired” young men seems to relate to the belief that the external world cannot be taken for granted and that everyone must take part in protecting the family as a whole.

Further, it's become apparent in the past few years that the civilian job market (not just the military) and well as volunteer needs place much more emphasis on intimate interaction with others and the possibility of personal care, than it did before. There is a certain irony, the male community got a lot of specialized experience with caregiving when the AIDS epidemic exploded in the 80s, but it was specialized and limited in nature, compared to the epidemic needs for caregiving today (including Alzheimer's Disease). One thing I can say from experience in the school systems: there is no way someone like me can be respected as a "male role model" by inquisitive and immature or disadvantaged students without formal public equality in the legal system.

It’s not hard to see how the social conflicts between the individual and family map out into other social and political conflicts that are more often covered by conventional accounts of history. Conflicts of individualism and religion, so much an issue since 9/11, make a good place to start the comparison.

It does seem that Western European countries may have done more to soften the conflicts between individualism and family responsibility, as many of them now have pro-maternity and pro-family support policies (including eldercare) without infringing on the rights of gays. I’m not sure we understand how they do it, and it may be deceptive, given the demographic problems that some countries (like Britain, France and the Netherlands) are experiencing with their Muslim populations.

Of course, external factors transcend the way people are treated "equally or not" in taking responsibility for others. The way medicine progresses is relevant: with the elderly, it is doing a "better" job in prolonging biological life than in keeping people from becoming infirm (whereas with PWA's it made excellent progress in restoring full activity). The way the economy works is also important: employers need to be able to keep people working and productive longer. But, given trends, some families may insist that they demand loyalty and solidarity of purpose like that common a half century ago.

Lifting the military ban (ending “don’t ask don’t tell”), allowing gay marriage and adoption, and at the same time strengthening filial responsibility laws could be the best way to have “equal rights” and “equal responsibilities. The danger in even suggesting this is, of course, is that we could wind up with the last of these but not the former.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Retired field grade Army officers support lifting DADT; look at 1993 Rand Study

On Monday, Aug. 20, 2007, The Washington Times printed, on p A16, a letter to the editor called “Homosexuals in the military” from two retired Army officers, Col. Stewart Bornhoft and Col. E. A. Leonard. The writers argue that when military personnel know of well-performing homosexuals in their units, their approval of lifting the ban increases, and such personnel are less likely to express the belief that “open” homosexuals in the military would fracture unit cohesion.

There is a book commissioned by Les Aspin of the Clinton Administration in 1993, Rand Corporation (National Defense Research Institute). Sexual Orientation and U.S. Military Personnel Policy: Options and Assessment. Los Angeles: Rand, 1993. This 700 page volume studied militaries in other countries and surveyed the history of the “ban” and came up with a plan for lifting it, based on the idea of a “Code of Military Professional Conduct.” Along the way there were many statistical studies and tables, and diagrams of the living arrangements in typical military units (with the Marine Corps, when on Navy ships, and submarine units in the Navy being the most “crowded” and intimate with “hot bunking.”) The study discussed a variety of sociology concepts like “propinquity.”

Certainly this study could form a reasonable basis for developing a conduct policy after lifting “don’t ask don’t tell”. It is credible and professional, and not simply a proposal from a self-published blog (however reasonable). Nevertheless, visitors may look at my 1993 “White House letter” here which more or less says the same thing in four pages instead of 700.

The Rand study, which I purchased in 1993 for $28, now costs $95 on Amazon, but ought to be in the library of anyone lobbying on the issue or working on a concrete law to repeal, including supporting the Meehan bill. Here is the link.

Update: Aug. 22, 2007

Check the Human Rights Campaign 's "Legacy of Service" blog -- a national campaign against "Don't Ask Don't Tell", here

Quick Note: See the story about former CNN reporter Jason Bellini, now with the Logo Network. Bellini reported in detail on a Marine Unit and was one of the first CNN reporters to reach downtown Baghdad in 2003 when Saddam Hussein fell. Story by Doug Windsor "CNN Reporter Jumps to Gay Network" on Link Ponder this.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Rumored gay in soccer in Brazil causes flap

Tales Azzoni has an amusing AP story on Yahoo! today about gays in soccer. “In a macho sport, an uproar over gays and soccer in Brazil.” Link:

There was a rumor that a player on a rival team, spread by the president of a team, is gay. The player sued for defamation (in Brazil that can lead to a criminal charge), and the Brazilian judge claimed that gays don’t belong in soccer.

There have been occasional stories of gay professional athletes in the United States, but they really have never created that much controversy. In the NFL, Dave Kopay in the 1970s, and more recently Esear Tualo has a book “Alone in the Trenches: My Life as a Gay Man in the NFL (2006, Sourcebooks; review); he played in one Super Bowl. In major league baseball, Glen Burke, Billy Bean and umpire Dave Pallone. Link: Mark Bingham, a hero on Flight 93, was an amateur rugby player.

Of course, especially with contact sports, the question of “forced intimacy,” known from the debate over gays in the military, could come up at an intellectual level; but it doesn’t really cause a problem. In diving, The Greg Louganis story is well known (review).

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Democratic candidates debate in LA on Logo

On Thursday, Aug. 9, 2007 six of the 2008 Democratic presidential candidates participated on the debate on the GLBT MTV Logo channel debate ay 6 PM PDT in Los Angeles. The candidates were Barack Obama, John Edwards, Dennis Kucinich, Mike Gravel, Bill Richardson and Hillary Clinton. Each candidate had 20 minutes. Six Republican candidates were invited, and they declined. Melissa Etheridge, Joe Solomonese, and Jonathan Capehart moderated. The program was titled "Invisible Vote 08: A Presidential Forum".

Joe Solomonese of HRC questioned Barack Obama on gay marriage, and Obama said that the federal benefits of marriage should be “disentangled” from the religious concept of marriage. Formally, he supported strong civil unions.

John Edwards had a lot to say. He spoke about the GLBT center in LA, with teenagers who were thrown out of their homes by their parents after “telling.” Edwards supported educating public school children about gay parents, and supported gays adopting children. John Knight called and asked about “don’t ask don’t tell” and Edwards indicated that a president should have the power to overturn it, although that sounds hard to see if it is codified into the 1993 law. Edwards also supported ENDA. He also supported hate crimes protection and mentioned the murder of Matthew Shepard in Wyoming in 1998.

Dennis Kucinich supported single payer health insurance and legalization of medical marijuana, and full gay marriage rights.

Mike Gravel talked about “second class citizenship” as a reality of gays, who are expected to make the sacrifice if it comes to drawing straws.

Bill Richardson apologized for an Imus-like gaffe where he used a slang Spanish word. He was quizzed about his record on same-sex couples as governor. He was asked by Melissa if homosexuality was biological, and Richardson said that he was not a scientist and he did not think that this is the relevant question; he saw it as human rights. . He supported equal immigration rights (regarding gay couples) but admitted that it was an uphill struggle without full marriage equality. Richardson also said that he is Hispanic.

Hillary Clinton talked about the witch-hunts under “don’t ask don’t tell”, with the military investigations involving “naming names” as outlined in Randy Shilts’s book. (“Conduct Unbecoming”, 1993). She summarized the history of the debate in 1993 and the passage of the law in November, with the comment that at the time it had been perceived as an advance (to stop formal “asking”). She saw 1999 as the critical time for her in her grasp of the witch-hunts, and said that in 2003, when she was put on the Armed Services Committee, she didn’t have a realistic chance to propose repeal of DADT with a Republican Congress. She also talked about blocking the attempts at a federal marriage amendment.

The candidates did not address what would probably sound like the right-wing question: that some parents feel that their children “owe them” grandchildren as “proof of love” as the price for having a good life. This notion is centered around the idea that in a world of inequality, people have to “earn” their place, partly by sexual mores, which was the idea that underlined Victorian England and the novels of Jane Austen (the film Becoming Jane comes to mind). Yet, this idea seems to hold sway with a lot of people, because they have to justify their own personal values in people. But one could pose the question as equal rights, equal responsibilities for others.

Jason Bellini hosted a “post-mortem” analysis.

The broadcast can be replayed and viewed at this link.

The Logo Network is still not available on Comcast in the DC area. (I watched over my Internet connection from the website, which worked fine; but I could not have recorded it if I were out.) It is available on Direct-TV. It is disturbing that satellite has more channels, it seems, since it may be less reliable technically and more trouble. Comments?

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Fox 5 DC reports Army gay witch hunt in Old Guard in Arlington

Fox WTTG Channel 5 in Washington DC tonight August 7, 2007 presented a story about a soldier and military policeman in the 3rd Infantry, Old Guard in Fort Myer, Arlington VA. The soldier reportedly was living off post with a gay relative, and was suspected of being "gay." In January, he was accused of an assault associated with a “pat down” when maintains he was not even on post. The charges were dropped and he was given an Article 15, and when he fought it, he was convicted of at least two “inappropriate touches” where were technically assaults under the UCMJ. He faces less than honorable discharge if the conviction stands up. He believes that the witch-hunt was motivated by comments made this summer by General Pace that homosexual acts are “immoral” and that other commanders thought they were doing “the right thing.” The television report maintained that it did not ask the soldier his sexual orientation because of the "don't ask don't tell" policy. The reporter was Beth Parker.

I was assigned to South Post at Fort Myer in the summer of 1968, right after Basic. I was submitted for a top secret security clearance under MOS 01E20 “Mathematician.” I started getting mysterious phone calls from a specialist in military personnel in late August, and I was transferred to Fort Eustis in September 1968. I may have been transferred because of a failure of the TS investigation because of my “psychiatric” episode after my expulsion from William and Mary in November 1961, as discussed in many other postings and in my books. South Post consisted of eyebrow barracks near the Pentagon and is no longer in existence.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Don't ask don't tell: Donnelly, Rawls letters in The Washington Times; my three draft physicals

Today, Thursday August 2, 2007, on page A22 of The Washington Times print version, Elaine Donnelly, President, Center for Military Readiness, Livonia, MI, has a letter to the editor titled “Gays, the military, and the Law” answering a letter Saturday July 28, 2007, in which Steve Ralls from Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (“on repealing “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell”. Ms. Donnelly maintains that there is no such thing as a “don’t ask don’t tell” law, although she seems to connect it to a Military Personnel Eligibility Act of 1993.

In act, the actual statue is Public Law 103-160, passed Nov. 30, 1993. The Stanford University Law School, on its site dedicated to the policy, has a copy here. This had been called the Defense Authorization Act in 1993.

Nomenclature (unlike the case in organic chemistry) may not matter so much as a characterization of what the law says. She says that it is a reenactment of the 1981 “old ban” with the exception that commanders not ask sexual orientation at enlistment unless ordered to do so by the Secretary of Defense. In some sense, taken at face value, the text of the law on the Stanford Law School site literally seems to support such an interpretation. Later in the letter she hints that the Pentagon ought indeed to resume “asking.”

She also refers to the Pentagon’s own internal regulations (actually published in February 1994) in which the Pentagon apparently tried to make a sincere effort to let gay servicemembers have a “private life” – something we know often did not work, given all the witch-hunts over the years (I have attended plenty of SLDN “end the witch hunt” dinners, often around Halloween).

In fact, even during the Vietnam war the Army essentially had a “don’t ask don’t tell” policy most of the time (although specific Army regulations, buried deep in bureaucratic text, called for discharges even of those with “homosexual associations”). After my expulsion from a civilian college in 1961 and psychiatric “treatment” in 1962 (I was one of Laura Schlessinger’s “biological errors” (link)) I tried three times to get drafted to “redeem” my reputation. In September 1964 I took a draft physical in Richmond VA (psychiatrists had just said “your’re not qualified”) and the medical questionnaire did ask about “homosexual tendencies” and I answered “truthfully.” I was classified 4-F. In April 1966 I took another physical in Kansas City, MO (while in graduate school at KU) and there was no question about homosexuality at all, but there was one about psychiatric treatment. I was classified 1-Y. In August 1967 I took another physical in Richmond and passed (was 2-S and then 1-A). I may be the only admitted homosexual who went from 4-F to 1-A and actually served a term in the Army without incident, although I did not go to Vietnam. I was with relatively well educated troops in a special unit, who tended to see homosexuality as a welcome anti-war rebellion.

Because of powers given to Congress to regulate the military and even (apparently) to conscript, it is an uphill fight at best to get such a policy overturned on constitutional grounds. But it is encouraging to note that the public, as noted in an earlier entry, is coming around to lifting the ban. What happens if Congress does return to the draft or some kind of proximate national service?

As others familiar with my story knows, one of the biggest concerns about the ban is the insinuation that gays are not fit to share the responsibility of defending freedom. Parallel concerns exist with gay marriage and gay adoption. Government is officially, in statutory law, defining us as second class citizens, and then saying it will look the other way most of the time – until something happens and we have to draw straws. We all know the reasoning behind the ban – not just unit cohesion, but forced intimacy – but those concerns exist elsewhere, like in fire departments, law enforcement, intelligence, and sometimes teaching. In fact, gays were often banned from these too (especially from having security clearances – a factor that affected my career direction in the 1970s). In 1978, California almost banned gay teachers (and this almost happened in Washington in 1986). The military ban sets a horrible precedent for other areas.