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DADT: Don’t Ask Is Dead, But Not Second-Class Status Of Gays In Military



“The only thing the repeal of DADT changes is that LGB folks can now fight and possibly die for this country. It does not allow for partner benefits if that service member is killed in action. It does not allow for housing expenses or housing, for that matter, for same-sex couples. It does not provide piece of mind that an LGB service member will not be discriminated against because there is no discrimination policy included. It does not provide a separation allowance for same-sex couples. It does not provide funding or country clearance for same-sex partners. It does not even allow transgender people to serve [openly.] And, if you reenlist after you were discharged for being gay, there is no guarantee that you will be given the same job. You will go where the military needs you – if they need you.”

–Beth Brooker, a board member of Hampton Roads Pride and the State Lead for GetEQUAL VA.

Just as parallels may be drawn between our New Civil Rights Movement and the Civil Rights Movement which culminated in the Civil Rights Act of 1964 leading to the desegregation of civilians in the United States, the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell is analogous to the desegregation of our armed forces.

In January, 1776, because of manpower shortages, George Washington lifted the ban on black enlistment in the Continental Army. All-black units were formed in Rhode Island and Massachusetts; many were slaves promised freedom for serving in lieu of their masters.

In February, 1946 African-American World War II veteran Isaac Woodard was attacked and blinded by policemen in Aiken, South Carolina.

In July, 1946 Two African-American veterans and their wives were taken from their car near Monroe, Georgia, by a white mob and shot to death; their bodies were found to contain 60 bullets.

In January, 1948 President Truman decided to end segregation in the armed forces and the civil service through administrative action (executive order) rather than through legislation.

In October, 1953, the Army announced that 95% of African-American soldiers were serving in integrated units.

The Articles of War of 1916 explicitly prohibited homosexuality in the U.S. military, but the ban wasn’t enforced until World War II. (However thousands of lesbians were allowed to serve; asking women about their sexuality violated the behavior standards of the times.)

On Oct. 25, 1992 Petty Officer Third Class Allen R. Schindler, 22, was battered to death against the fixtures of a public toilet in a park near the naval base at Sasebo, Japan. He was so disfigured that his mother said she was able to recognize him only by the tattoos on his arms. The Navy said that his skull was battered, most of his ribs were broken and his penis was cut off.

On July 6, 1999 Private First Class Barry Winchell, 21, was bludgeoned to death at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, after he was suspected of being gay.

On June 30, 2009 Gay Seaman August Provost, 29, of Houston was shot multiple times as he stood guard at Camp Pendleton.

In 1992, Bill Clinton’s campaign promise to lift the ban led to the passage of The Military Personnel Eligibility Act of 1993, also known as “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” The Pentagon agreed to stop asking about sexuality, but it never agreed to stop investigating whether those serving were gay. Since 1994 almost 14,000 service members have been dismissed because of their sexual orientation.

On January 27th, 2010 President Barak Obama declared in his State of the Union address that he’d work to “finally repeal the law that denies gay Americans the right to serve the country they love because of who they are.”

Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell ends today, but the fruits of our victory are bittersweet. Lesbian, gay and bisexual men and women will still be treated as second class citizens; transgender men and women must still serve in secrecy as they have for centuries in armies worldwide.

The chronicles of history are populated with second class citizens. Second class citizens built the monuments, worked the fields, prepared the food, fought the wars, and birthed the children. The world was filled with second class citizens; economies were based on them. Little has changed in the roughly 5000 years of the written word.

But the yearning for equality, the freedom to love, also echoes through those chronicles. An overwhelming desire to determine our own destiny seems to be inherent in our humanity. Heroes are forged from the chains of servitude. A belief in one’s own dignity can lead to martyrdom. Lovers will scale walls and climb mountains to be with their beloved. Neither the threat of imprisonment nor the possibility of death deters. Having taken a breath of freedom, men and women want to fill their lungs with it. Tasting the sweetness of the crumbs of equality, we crave the entire cake.

Although our country was founded on the assertion “that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” our constitution, although since amended, still enshrines the concept that some citizens are worth more than others. Some people literally counted less and some didn’t count at all. The “pursuit of happiness” by some was determined by the whims of others. To put it in Orwellian terms – all men are created equal but some men are created more equal than others.

We are now in the midst of a New Civil Rights Movement. What was once called The Gay Movement and then The Gay and Lesbian Movement became the Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual Movement and then The LGBT Movement. But now our movement is no longer Gay. Over time our alphabet soup of diversity has added more letters and the A for allies is perhaps the one that will determine its success.

Bayard Rustin, the openly gay African-American who taught Martin Luther King, Jr. about Gandhian non-violence and orchestrated the 1963 march that gave Dr. King the platform to vocalize his Dream, said in 1986, “Today, blacks are no longer the litmus paper or the barometer of social change. Blacks are in every segment of society and there are laws that help to protect them from racial discrimination. The new “niggers” are gays. . . . It is in this sense that gay people are the new barometer for social change. . . The question of social change should be framed with the most vulnerable group in mind: gay people.”

Many in the African-American Community disapprove of this equation of our movement with their struggle for dignity and equality. They argue because we were not enslaved or separated from our families or beaten or lynched or subjected to systematic rape, the comparison somehow demeans their Civil Rights Movement.

The enslavement of our spirit is not the same as the bondage of their ancestors, but for our homeless queer teens, disowned by their families, for our women subjected to ‘corrective’ rape, for our mothers whose bullied gay children commit suicide or whose sons were bludgeoned or repeatedly shot, for our transgender women who are beaten or murdered, the differences seem few.

No, our New Civil Rights Movement is not exactly the same, but there is no hierarchy to oppression. We are born, we queer sons and daughters, to mostly heterosexual parents. We are disparate from conception, raised as strangers in a strange land, sometimes embraced, sometimes cast out.

Yes, today we celebrate the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. And tomorrow the LGBT men and women who serve our country will still be treated as second class citizens. Will you speak up for them?

(Image: Sean Carlson,

Stuart Wilber lives in Seattle with his partner and cat. Equality continues to elude them.

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‘Wake Up People’: Trump ‘Elevating Criminals’ as MAGA Wants to ‘Wreck America’ Says Expert



Dr. Ruth Ben-Ghiat, the noted expert on authoritarianism, fascism, and propaganda is sounding the alarm on Donald Trump, MAGA, the 2024 presidential election, and events surrounding the Republican National Convention.

“Wake up people. Trump is the most skilled propagandist in history,” Ben-Ghiat, an NYU professor of history and an MSNBC opinion columnist, wrote, noting he “did not need a crisis or one-party state to get millions to believe he won the 2020 election & see Jan 6 & strongman rule as positive.”

“He built a personality cult & indoctrinated thru disinfo & mass marketing,” she added.

Ben-Ghiat, who is also an advisor to the nonprofit, nonpartisan group Protect Democracy, was responding to professor of international relations Nicholas Grossman’s remarks:

“If the United States loses its democracy, it’ll be the dumbest slide into authoritarianism in history. Others cases had mass unemployment, a major war, something. None have done it with low unemployment, rising real wages, declining crime, and no troops fighting in foreign wars,” he wrote.

READ MORE: ‘What Caused Trump’s Injury?’: Campaign Silent as Attempted Assassination Questions Mount

Grossman was replying to international affairs columnist Doug Saunders of The Globe and Mail, who had observed, “For the first time in 23 years the USA isn’t at war. It’s experiencing full employment and rising living standards not seen in decades. Crime and violence are falling to record lows. It’s energy independent. Yet its leading candidate goes on about ‘civilizational collapse.’ ”

Ben-Ghiat also weighed in on remarks by economist Anders Åslund, who had written, “Elon Musk has promised Trump $45 million a month! An extraordinary amount. Why? Because Trump wants to prolong his tax breaks for billionaires – worth circa $4 trillion (!) over a decade. This will break US public finances, but Musk & other ruthless billionaires don’t care.”

“The point of MAGA,” she responded, “is to wreck America so autocrats –Trump’s allies–can prosper. Don’t believe me? Listen to Trump in VA on 6/29: ‘If you have a smart president, they’re not enemies. You’ll make them do great.’ He was speaking about Russia, China, and North Korea.”

She also responded to attorney and SiriusXM host Dean Obeidallah’s post that former top Trump White House advisor Peter Navarro is being released from prison Wednesday and just hours later will speak at the Republican National Convention. Navarro is a conspiracy theorist and fringe economist who refused two lawful congressional subpoenas, was found guilty and sentenced to four months in jail.

“Trump’s agenda, as with all autocrats, is to replace rule of law with rule by the lawless,” Ben-Ghiat replied. “Elevating criminals to positions of prominence within the party is part of that.”

In an interview published Saturday in The Guardian on the threat of authoritarianism in America, Ben-Ghiat warned: “It is a democratic emergency.”

Ben-Ghiat is the author of several book including “Strongmen: How They Rise, Why They Succeed, How They Fall,” and “Strongmen: Mussolini to the Present.”

READ MORE: ‘Fight! Fight! Fight!’: RNC’s ‘Chilling’ MAGA Chant Echoes Trump – and ‘1930’s Germany’





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‘What Caused Trump’s Injury?’: Campaign Silent as Attempted Assassination Questions Mount



Four days after a 20-year old registered Republican shot at Donald Trump at an outdoor campaign rally, killing one man and wounding three others including the ex-president, questions continue to grow as the Trump campaign stays silent.

Trump on Saturday appeared to touch his ear, which moments later was seen covered in blood. The Secret Service is now under investigation. Trump had enough time to mouth “fight!” and pump his fists at the crowd, giving photographers the opportunity to take what are being called “iconic” images of the shooting. Trump even repeatedly demanded agents wait for him to find his shoes before pulling him to safety.

A CNN transcript shows Trump saying four times, “Let me get my shoes.”

To date, not a single physician who treated Trump at the local hospital has addressed the press with any medical information on the 78-year old who this week officially became the Republican Party nominee for president.

The New York Times on Tuesday reported U.S. Rep. Ronny Jackson (R-TX), the disgraced former Physician to the President, said he traveled from Texas to Bedminster, New Jersey to be with Trump at his private golf course, arriving at 4:30 AM Sunday. According to The Times, Jackson “replaced the dressing on the former president’s ear on a flight to Milwaukee for the Republican National Convention.”

Jackson told The Times, “The bullet took a little bit off the top of his ear in an area that, just by nature, bleeds like crazy.” That was the extent of his medical remarks.

RELATED: ‘Release Your Medical Records’: No Report on Trump’s Health 3 Days After Assassination Attempt

The Daily Beast adds Jackson spoke to far-right wing commentator Benny Johnson on Monday.

“Jackson was not at the rally in Pennsylvania, but previously said his nephew attended and was grazed by a stray bullet while sitting in the former president’s ‘friends and family’ section.”

“It was far enough away from his head that there was no concussive effect from the bullet, and it just took the top of his ear off,” Jackson said.

The Trump campaign has not released any medical reports, nor has it cited or directed reporters to Congressman Jackson’s remarks.

“So journalists who demanded detailed medical information about examinations of President Biden just… don’t care to hear from any actual medical personnel about the injury sustained by the former President Trump after an assassination attempt? This is insane,” declared civil rights lawyer Sherrilyn Ifill Wednesday morning. Ifill is a professor of law and the former president of the NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund.

“I have many questions!” responded MSNBC anchor Joy Reid. “Like where are the medical reports? What caused Trump’s injury and what was the injury? Sheapnel? [sic] Glass? A bullet? Where were the three attendees who were shot seated or standing relative to Trump? Why was Trump allowed to stand and pose for photos, fist pumping for nearly ten seconds while asking about his shoe when there could easily havs [sic] been additional shooters? How did the gunman manage to get on the roof of the building WHERE THE LOCAL POLICE WERE LITERALLY INSIDE?”

Reid wasn’t done.

“More questions,” she continued, “does it make sense that a 17 year old who three year[s] later is a member of a far right gun group donated to any political organization, let alone @actblueorg??? Has the organization verified that? And where is this supposed ladder? Did he seriously bring a five foot ladder with him and his AR? Really? And why haven’t authorities released information about all three civilian victims, including a schematic of where they were standing or sitting?”

READ MORE: ‘Fight! Fight! Fight!’: RNC’s ‘Chilling’ MAGA Chant Echoes Trump – and ‘1930’s Germany’

Questions have swirled about a report of a $15 donation to a progressive group on January 20, 2021 – the day Joe Biden was inaugurated President. According to Snopes, a report that that donation came from a different Thomas Crooks, a 69-year old, are false.

“Thomas Crooks, the 20-year-old man who attempted to assassinate former U.S. President Donald Trump, once donated money to a political action committee aligned with the Democratic Party,” Snopes reports the claim, deeming it true.

Political commentator Bob Cesca on Wednesday quoted from this NBC News report that reads: “A Trump adviser on Tuesday declined to answer specific questions about the former president’s injury, telling NBC News that any statements about Trump’s health, his condition and medical care related to his ear would come directly from the former president.”

Cesca asks, “What’s he concealing?”

“Exactly, replied attorney and legal analyst Jeffrey Evan Gold.

“5 days after the event
No medical briefing.
No medical reports.
No doctor has come forth to even be interviewed in any publication.
Never seen anything like it in any mass shooting.”

“It has been several days since Trump was injured,” observed national security attorney Brad Moss Wednesday morning. “No medical reports. No statements from doctors. Nothing. And the media is barely talking about it, instead discussing an imaginary ‘pivot’.”

Former Republican U.S. Congressman Joe Walsh said, “No medical reports. No doctor’s statements. No information at all on the Republican nominee for President who was shot & injured four days ago. That’s just wrong. Shitty job media. If it were the Democratic nominee who’d been shot, Hannity, et al, would be blowing a gasket.”

Dr. Nick Mark writes: “The media silence on this is deafening. Did he have a head CT? What did it show? Did he have stitches? Tetanus shot? The NYT ran nonstop stories about Biden’s health after the debate but can’t be bothered to report on the health of someone who was literally shot in the head?”

RELATED: Was Trump Hit by a Bullet or Not? Calls Mount for Campaign to Release Medical Records

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‘Impose Gender Ideology’: DeSantis Continues Attacks on LGBTQ Equality at RNC



Walking out beneath a banner that read “Make America Safe Once Again,” Florida Governor Ron DeSantis continued the GOP’s attacks on LGBTQ Americans into Tuesday night at day two of the Republican National Convention, despite the party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, vow to unite the nation.

Parading his far-right social agenda, DeSantis, who ended his 2024 presidential bid in January, angrily attacked President Joe Biden and American principles of equality.

“Let’s be honest here. Biden is just a figurehead. He’s a tool for imposing a leftist agenda on the American people. They support open borders, allowing millions and millions of illegal aliens to pour into our country and divert in our communities. But just don’t send any to Martha’s Vineyard then they get really upset,” the two-term Florida GOP governor mockingly declared, reminding Republicans that he spent state tax dollars to pick up 48 Venezuelan asylum seekers, including children, in Texas, and transport them to the tiny island town in Massachusetts, where they discovered, one said, they had been “tricked.”

READ MORE: ‘Release Your Medical Records’: No Report on Trump’s Health 3 Days After Assassination Attempt

“They have unleashed progressive prosecutors across our nation who care more about coddling criminals than about protecting their own communities,” DeSantis continued at the convention where Donald Trump, a convicted felon, was officially chosen as the party’s presidential nominee just 24 hours earlier.

“They use the unelected bureaucracy to impose their will on us without our consent,” DeSantis added, although it was unclear if he was  referring to the nation’s justice system. “And they weaponize political power to target their political opponents like they’ve done to our own nominee.”

“They want to ban gas automobiles, eliminate Second Amendment rights and impose gender ideology on everyone from our infantry men to kindergarteners. They stand for DEI, which really means ‘division, exclusion and indoctrination’ and it is wrong.”

DEI stands for diversity, equity, and inclusion.

“They mandated that you show proof of a COVID vaccine to go to a restaurant, but they oppose requiring proof of citizenship to cast the vote,” he claimed before adding, “They can’t even define what a woman is.”

READ MORE: ‘Fight! Fight! Fight!’: RNC’s ‘Chilling’ MAGA Chant Echoes Trump – and ‘1930’s Germany’

DeSantis originally had not been scheduled to speak at the convention, despite having endorsed Donald Trump when he ended his presidential campaign. On Tuesday it was announced both DeSantis, and Trump’s other top rival for the nomination, his former Ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, would both speak to the delegates.

As DeSantis praised Trump, the nominee was in the audience, standing next to his son Eric, his new vice presidential running mate, U.S. Senator JD Vance, and U.S. Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia.

CNBC reported Tuesday the second day of the Republican National Convention saw Nikki Haley, Ron DeSantis, Marco Rubio, and Ted Cruz “bend the knee.”

“The primary campaign is a distant memory now,” Florida Politics noted.

Watch DeSantis’ speech below or at this link.

READ MORE: Was Trump Hit by a Bullet or Not? Calls Mount for Campaign to Release Medical Records





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