Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Details story; reiterate administrative rules under DADT that supposedly prohibit witch-hints

The October 2007 issue of Details has, besides a mandatory picture of Brad Pitt on the cover (Daniel Radcliffe a couple months ago) and story, a great article by Melba Newsome (with photographs by Dan Frobes) in “dossier: The Military’s New Gay Games: Desperate for more troops, the U.S. is hedging on ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” on p 122, print. The story starts with a US Navy petty officer who was cashiered out just before his enlistment would have ended, and then he gets a recall letter for deployment. There is the suitable technicality (perhaps ‘queen for a day”) to let him back in. In his 1992 Villard book, “Honor Bound: A Gay Naval Midshipman Fights for the Right to Serve his Country,” (this book has been out of print for some time) Joseph Steffan reports similar incidents during the 1990-1991 Persian Gulf War, under the “Old Ban” from 1981, before the Clinton “don’t ask don’t tell” was codified into law at the end of 1993 after a year of angry debate. Media has often reported that major scarce skills, especially in language translation in Iraq and Afghanistan, have been lost because of the ban.

Details has always been a bit iconoclastic. Back in 1998, a syndicated columnist from Britain almost got a review of my first book published in it, but she reported then that Details was too “hetero.” It doesn’t seem so today. Metrosexual, perhaps. The beauty of the male seems to be an important theme in all of the clothing and accoutrement ads.

This is a good place to reiterate one point about the 1994 administrative regulations implemented by the Pentagon in February of that year. One should go to the Stanford Law School site “Don’t” and follow the links after “statutes and regulations.” The "don't pursue" -- Clinton's words in 1993 -- were supposed to be part of this. In general the regulations say the investigations under “don’t ask don’t tell” should be started only after credible information of violation. Many activities that are personal or “private” in nature (even if they are incidentally public) are not supposed to trigger investigations. These include, being in a gay bar or gay parade in civilian clothes when on pass, or providing professional services to GLBT clients if one is in the Reserves or Guard, or even having a clothed picture of a same-sex partner at one’s desk, or naming a same-sex partner as a beneficiary on a life insurance policy. Nevertheless, for almost fifteen years, individual military commands seem to violate these rules and get away with it. Any servicemember caught in an investigation should immediately seek legal help, as from Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN). This is not a do-it-yourself matter.

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