Sign Up to Receive Email Action Alerts From Issa Exposed
×

Archives – January, 2011

An update on "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" repeal process

By Adam Bink

As many of you have noted in the comments, today the Department of Defense held a media briefing regarding an update on implementation of repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”. They also released a 5-page memo to the public from Sec. Gates, and another one from Under Secretary Stanley (which I’ve uploaded so you can read here and here).

After reading the memos and the DOD’s comments, a few notes:

  • The Under Secretary responsible for implementation, Clifford Stanley, is tasked with delivering an outline of implementation regarding training and “to facilitate the timely and orderly realization” by February 4th, which is good news. One of the concerns many, including myself, had was a drawn-out months-long process just to study implementation and develop a plan. We still have to ensure that certification happens sooner rather than later, as there is no timeline in sight until an openly gay or lesbian person can walk into a recruiting office and sign up, or a servicemember can come out, but this is welcome news. More on that from Gen. Cartwright below.
  • Gates lays out six guidelines for developing the policy, guidelines which speak to non-discrimination in the armed forces. The language, which is below, appears to be very positive:

– All personnel will be treated with respect.
– No policy should be established that is solely based on on sexual orientation.
– Harassment or unlawful discrimination of any member of the Armed Forces for any reason will not be tolerated.
– Standards of personal and professional conduct will apply uniformly to all military personnel, regardless of sexual orientation.
– Implementation will be timely, deliberate, comprehensive, and consistent with the standards of readiness, military effectiveness, unit cohesion and recruiting and retention of the Armed Forces.
– Implementation standards will be consistent across all Services.

  • One of the more controversial issue that came up during repeal efforts, voiced particularly by Sen. Manchin, is how chaplains whose personal views conflict with the new policy will be treated. The memo states “[t]here will be no changes regarding Service member exercise of religious beliefs, nor are there any changes to policies concerning the Chaplain Corps of the Military Departments and their duties. The Chaplain Corps’ First Amendment freedoms and their duty to care for all will not change.” It’s not clear what that will mean for an openly gay or lesbian servicemember who seeks counsel e.g. whether the chaplain available can refuse to provide counsel.
  • At the hearing, Vice Chairman Cartwright said certification could happen within a year, and also said the Pentagon believes “moving along expeditiously is better than dragging it out.”
  • It’s unclear as of yet the ramifications for someone who is discriminated against based on sexual orientation, and that’s something I would like to see fleshed out in the plan due February 4th.
  • Some have asked whether those who were discharged previously under the policy that was repealed would be receiving “back pay”. Stanley’s memo makes it clear they would not.
  • Nor will there be extension benefits to same-sex partners or spouses, as it is prohibited under DOMA, which is also detailed in Stanley’s memo. Opposite-sex spouses will continue to receive such benefits.

Some fairly good news in all of this, given the range of possibilities and language of the law. As we’ve said from day one after the signing, we’re here to make sure nothing is dragged out, and servicemembers can sign up and serve openly sooner rather than later.

47 Comments January 28, 2011

5 degrees and still hot

By Adam Bink

As Arisha noted in her post last weekend, “Cold in New Hampshire, but warm stories“, she, along with Anthony and Jackki are currently in New Hampshire running our Camp Courage training program for local activists. The reason she hasn’t been able to send in more dispatches (though more coming soon) is because of the incredible enthusiasm and response from the local community keeping everyone busy. Folks are fired up and ready to go to defend equality and keep the legislature from taking away rights. We even have some video to show next week.

We didn’t expect this going in, but there’s been so much enthusiasm that folks have asked us after the training if we would bring them to other parts of the state. On Wednesday, in partnership with Granite State Progress, we finished our 3rd training, which was down in Portsmouth. We have two more (in Hanover and Conway on Saturday and Sunday, respectively- go here if you’d like to sign up or pass on information to someone) planned.

It’s been literally 5 degrees at different points over the past week, but Arisha and the team (who, being from California, aren’t fans of that kind of cold… who is?) are willing to stay in the state to run them.

So we’re reaching out to our members and to you. If you can throw in $10, or more, to help bring these trainings to other parts of the state, it would certainly warm things up for gay and lesbian couples who are faced with having their rights stripped away, like in California after Prop 8.

Arisha penned an e-mail about how things are going, which can be found below. Please check it out. It’s payday this weekend, so I threw in a bit extra myself. Hope you can join me and chip in to bring more Camp Courage trainings to New Hampshire.

Courage Campaign
“I didn’t know what to expect when I walked into Camp Courage — sometimes these trainings can be a hit or miss — but I walked out feeling empowered and inspired. I’ll carry this day — and the story I developed here — my story — forever.  I don’t know what else to say, I was moved.” 

— attendee at Granite State Camp Courage, Keene, NH

Dear Adam,

I arrived in New Hampshire last week, where it’s 5 degrees, but still hot. That’s because it’s ground zero for the National Organization for Marriage (NOM). The Tea Party came to New Hampshire and wants to take marriage away from loving gay and lesbian couples. The state legislature has flipped to veto-proof Republican control.

That’s why I came to NH to run our Camp Courage trainings with Granite State Progress, teaching citizen activists how to organize in their communities. We had incredible turnout at our first three Camps from gay and lesbian couples, straight folks, LGBT activists, business owners who support the new law — all gaining new skills to defend equality. Everyone left ready to tell their stories and organize, and in a state of just 1.3 million with just over 400 part-time legislators, every conversation matters.

We’ve got two more trainings to go. It’s been so successful that we’ve been asked by local organizers to run more Camp Courage trainings in other parts of the state. We’re excited to do it, but travel is expensive.

Can you chip in $10 to help fund more trainings in New Hampshire?

Granite State Progress is already working with our trainees on their “next steps,” so everyone we train will be part of a permanent, local movement.

We’ve been asked at every training to stay here (or come back) to do more. Jackki, Anthony and I would do it in a heartbeat.

But that all costs money.  Courage keeps the lid on expenses- we’re staying mostly in donated housing—but we have costs for an occasional hotel room, meals, cars, and materials.

Can you contribute today to help cover travel expenses to bring Camp Courage to other parts of New Hampshire?

We’ve trained 1,600 activists and counting. Let’s get to 2,000 in New Hampshire. It’s unsure how the Prop 8 and “Defense of Marriage Act” (DOMA) court decisions will go — which is why it’s especially important to defend the freedom to marry in every state where we’ve achieved it.

Help me protect equality in New Hampshire. Chip in today to cover more Camp Courage trainings.

It may be cold in New Hampshire. But we can warm it up a little for gay and lesbian couples.

All my best,

Arisha Michelle Hatch
Courage Campaign

20 Comments January 28, 2011

France constitutional body says no to freedom to marry (for now)

By Adam Bink

Some not-so-great news out of France:

PARIS — France’s laws prohibiting gay marriage do not violate the constitution, the country’s top constitutional watchdog said Friday.

However, the Constitutional Council said it is up to the country’s parliament to make laws.

The decision leaves an opening for amendments in the future — and hope for two women who had challenged the French civil code’s stipulation that marriage must be between a man and a woman.

Corinne Cestino and Sophie Hasslauer, who have lived together for 15 years and have four children, have challenged the constitutionality of the country’s law on banning the gay marriage.

The issue exposes a paradox in France: while the country often has an anything-goes attitude to romance and sexuality, it can be conservative with family values. The couple and advocacy group Act Up Paris hoped France would soon join EU partners including Spain, Belgium and Netherlands that have legalized same-sex marriage.

However, it does leave open the possibility of a change through legislative means.

I had the pleasure of meeting Rep. Kucinich’s wife the other day, Elizabeth, who is of English decent, and we chatted about her friend who studied at Cambridge University and wished one day to be married at the University. She said England sometimes seems a long way off from abandoning religious traditions, which is something I often hear from friends in France, as well.

90 Comments January 28, 2011

Casting call

By Adam Bink

We at Courage Campaign are looking for gay and lesbian couples who are currently residents of California (meaning, living on more than a temporary or transient basis in the state, for a duration of more than 6 months) who are interested in volunteering for an LGBT video project. We’ll need your help in the near-term — over the weekend and into early next week — but the time commitment itself in terms of hours is about 3-4 hours maximum. And it will be a fun project to do, no doubt about that :) You don’t need to be in any particular location in California, this is something you can do from home.

If you’re interested, drop me a line at prop8trial AT couragecampaign DOT org for more details. Thanks!

15 Comments January 28, 2011

Seizing our national moment

By Adam Bink

A quick thought. Over at AMERICABlog, my friend Joe Sudbay hits on an important point: through anti-equality efforts to repeal the freedom to marry in Iowa and New Hampshire, and President Obama’s “evolving” moves of late, it’s becoming virtually guaranteed that marriage equality will be a subject in the 2012 Presidential debate. I think perhaps especially in the Republican primaries, given Iowa and New Hampshire’s prominence, will it be particularly spotlighted.

It also represents some excellent organizing opportunities around both President Obama and the Republicans. My head’s been firing some neurons on some really interesting useful, and fun projects to help drive the debate. More on that when they’re finalized- including a project Courage will be rolling out next month- but I just think it’s important to keep in mind that this, combined with the Prop 8 trial ongoing, represents perhaps the biggest opportunity to come along in years to take the stage at a national level and win people’s hearts and minds. The possibilities are endless to drive this conversation into American homes. Let’s seize this national moment.

139 Comments January 27, 2011

Poll: New Yorkers support the freedom to marry by record margin

By Adam Bink

We’re blessed with having a bevy of polling outfits in my home state of New York. Sometimes it means overkill, like when an average of 4.25 polls per week on the New York Governor’s race came out every week from September 27th through Election Day last year, when it was clear Cuomo would win in a landslide, while competitive House races remained largely unpolled. But often it’s a good blessing as it helps activists gauge work to do in the state. And often there’s good news.

Today, the Quinnipiac poll, in my opinion quite reliable,  has a new poll showing that by a margin of 56-37%- the highest ever- residents support the freedom of same-sex couples to marry. A June 2009 survey showed a 51-41% margin. It’s also a big shift since 2004, when 55% surveyed were opposed.

Among other interesting numbers, the figures reach 55% support in NYC, 54% in “upstate” (an absurdly imprecise term, but we’re stuck with it) and 61% in the suburbs. Republicans are opposed 41-52%.

The test of time and many years’ hard work in getting us to this point. Now we have the hard work of moving New York State Senators to the right place. For those interested, I wrote a few weeks ago about the optics of how things are looking back in New York State. I’ll say it again- to borrow the motto of the New York State lotto, hey, you never know.

92 Comments January 27, 2011

Next page Previous page