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DADT: Memorial Day Marks 70 Years of Discrimination Against Gay Service Members



Memorial Day is the 70th year of anti-gay discrimination officially embedded in military policy, despite the false belief that DADT has been repealed.

Today marks Memorial Day, a somber day in American life when we honor the service of those who gave their lives, the ultimate sacrifice on behalf of the people of the United States of America. This Memorial Day also bitterly marks the 70th year in American history in which government-sanctioned discrimination continues to be enforced against gays and lesbians serving in military. Contrary to what too many believe, the policy and practice of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT) remains in place until the repeal is fully implemented.

Memorial Day also reminds that today is the 159th day since President Barack Obama signed the repeal of the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell law, which forces gay and lesbian service members to remain in the military closet, stripped of their right to speak freely about their lives, or face a punitive discharge from the military because of their sexual orientation.

Since 1941 millions of gay and lesbian Americans have served, despite various incantations of the same gay ban—“homosexuality is incompatible with military service”–policy which remained in place during World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Grenada and Panama actions, Desert Storm, and through the Kosovo humanitarian intervention.

President Bill Clinton called DADT “an honorable compromise,” in 1993, when we lost the effort to repeal the gay ban. Thus, this Memorial Day also marks the 18th year of DADT as the policy of our government. That fact infuriates me.

We are now entering the sixth month since President Obama proclaimed the somewhat misleading words “It is done!” which he uttered when he ceremoniously signed the repeal bill, witnessed by 500 veterans activists and members of Congress who had worked years for its repeal. It feels as if we witnessed a bizarre version of  “Kabuki” theater, myself having attended the signing ceremony of the repeal of DADT to such pomp and circumstance.


We should take nothing for granted and hold President Obama and Congress accountable for complete and final repeal. Let us continue the fight and truly honor Memorial Day by establishing a state of equality that enables us to pay tribute to our dead, openly, knowing we are all free to say “I am gay” without fear and retribution.


We were reminded in April by the White House (and should have not be lulled into thinking that anything had changed–at least not yet,) when Michelle Obama, the First Lady of the United States (FLOTUS) and Dr. Jill Biden launched “Joining Forces” a campaign for military families, explicitly excluding gay families, for the time being, until, well, the DADT policy was repealed.

When the White House was questioned if the initiative would include gay families, FLOTUS spokesperson Kristen Schake  threw cold water on that notion by saying in a statement to the MetroWeekly, “The President has been crystal clear that the Administration is moving forward with the repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ quickly and efficiently. However, it still remains the law. The White House, including the First Lady and Dr. Biden, look forward to working with the families of gay and lesbian service members after certification occurs and repeal goes into effect.”

Adding insult to injury to this deliberative and painstakingly-slow implementation process were the actions of the Republican-led House of Representatives last week which passed the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that contained three anti-gay, anti-DADT repeal amendments.

Easily carried in a 322-96 majority vote and supported by a number of Democrats, one new hurdle has been added to an already onerous process, as the stridently anti-gay Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) sponsored the required formal concurrence of the service chiefs, along with the already required signatures of the president, the secretary of defense and the chairman of the joint chiefs. Other amendments include a restatement of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and a specific prohibition use of military facilities or personnel for same-sex marriage ceremonies.

In fact, complete repeal of DADT is far from done, despite the president’s misleading words. Obama had negotiated an agreement with the Department of Defense (DOD) leadership that provided for a deliberative and unnecessarily-long process that must culminate in a signed notification to Congress by the president, the secretary of defense and the chairman of the joint chiefs.

DADT remains very much in place, as a policy, while the military implements the recommendations of the Department of Defense Comprehensive Working Group report that includes DOD-wide training program, carried out by each service of how straight servicemembers are expected to treat gay and lesbian colleagues and to become well versed on the standards of conduct.

Will this be the last Memorial Day that discrimination remains the DOD standard mode of operation? Will July 4th mark the last day of independence in which the government of the United States continues to discriminate against those who are gay and lesbian and serve in the ranks?

I hope so.  The White House issued a statement rejecting the House’s actions. But I do not take anything for granted and neither should members of  the LGBT community. The Republicans have made clear they are not going down without a fight and drag out the final steps for complete repeal of DADT as long as they can. Coupled with the national Tea Party antics, as evidenced in the Walker takeover in Wisconsin, their efforts have made clear, rule of law be damned—are cautionary tales.

President Obama said it best at the signing ceremony when he stated America “is not a country of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” As a child growing up in the 1960s I always thought America was the country of “can do”–we were taught to believe that Americans can do anything, as long as we put our minds to a task and work hard.

And yet, today, despite the president’s soaring rhetoric,  I am not counting down the days to repeal because there is no line of demarcation that moves us to a date of destiny, free of discrimination. The process negotiated beween the president and the Pentagon was left to be a dangerously open-ended, one that has been pounced upon by Republican opponents.

READ: DADT: For Memorial Day Jewish Women Demand Congress End Repeal Opposition

Instead, all of us should stay on top of this legislation and ride herd on it all the way to Obama’s desk for his final, final signature. Are you convinced the Democrats are going to stand behind the plan?

I am not, despite national polling data that just keeps getting better and better for the LGBT community.

A recent Gallup poll recorded in excess of 50 percent support by respondents in a national survey on gay marriage is maddening irrelevant to cautious politicians–the poll numbers on gays in the military have enjoyed some of the highest numbers in support of gay rights in the history of poll-taking on gay issues. But poll numbers don’t matter to legislators who have feet made of clay or who simply view gays not worthy of equal citizenship.

So, we should take nothing for granted and hold President Obama and Congress accountable for complete and final repeal. Let us continue the fight and truly honor Memorial Day by establishing a state of equality that enables us to pay tribute to our dead, openly, knowing we are all free to say “I am gay” without fear and retribution. This liberty is the most honorable tribute we can bestow on America’s mostly unsung and unknown LGBT heroes of the past 235 years.

(image: dbking, “12,000 Flags for 12,000 Patriots”, 2007)

Tanya L. Domi is an Adjunct Assistant Professor of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University, who teaches about human rights in Eurasia and is a Harriman Institute affiliated faculty member. Prior to teaching at Columbia, Domi worked internationally for more than a decade on issues related to democratic transitional development, including political and media development, human rights, gender issues, sex trafficking, and media freedom.

Read Tanya Domi’s most-recent previous article at The New Civil Rights Movement, “DADT: For Memorial Day Jewish Women Demand Congress End Repeal Opposition.”

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DeSantis Kicks Off Presidential Campaign Tour With Claim Teachers Are ‘Forcing’ Students to Pick Pronouns



Governor Ron DeSantis kicked off his official presidential campaign tour on Tuesday, traveling to Iowa after announcing last week he was launching a White House run. On Wednesday, the Republican bragged to GOP voters that in Florida he recently signed a bill into law banning teachers from forcing children to pick pronouns, insisting it is happening in other states.

“It is wrong for a teacher to tell a student that they may have been born in the wrong body, or that their gender is a choice,” DeSantis announced.

“We don’t allow this in the state of Florida, and we actually just signed legislation protecting students from having teachers force them to pick pronouns, which they are doing in some parts of this country, at [a] very, very young age. We’re not competing in the ‘pronoun sweepstakes.’ We’re going to have school just like school’s been, from time in memoriam [sic], we’re not going to do all this other stuff,” he declared.

READ MORE: ‘Will Make a Great Trial Witness’: Experts Thrilled Jack Smith Is Investigating Trump’s Firing of Election Security Expert

While DeSantis is insistent that teachers are forcing very young students to pick pronouns, NCRM found no news reports supporting that claim.

We did find several news reports of teachers suing for not wanting to use a child’s preferred pronoun, which are issues for the courts.

We did find one report of a teacher who allegedly insisted on calling a 9-year old girl who identifies as a girl a boy, and the parents are suing.

News12 on Long Island, New York in March reported, “the lawyer representing the girl’s family…says the student was bullied and had suicidal feelings.”

“She says the teacher told the student to ‘try being gay.’ The teacher is also accused of calling the girl a male name.
‘The teacher had some kind of agenda to have these students have alternate sexual preferences or gender identities they may or may not have had,'” the attorney said.

READ MORE: ‘It Has to Be Done’: These Are the House Republicans Open to Firing Kevin McCarthy as Speaker

In April, Colorado’s KRDO reported, “During the last Colorado Springs School District 11’s board meeting, officials tabled a controversial pronoun policy that would prevent educators from asking students their preferred pronouns. While the policy isn’t in effect, some teachers are concerned about how it would hinder them inside the classroom.”

Watch DeSantis below or at this link.


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‘Will Make a Great Trial Witness’: Experts Thrilled Jack Smith Is Investigating Trump’s Firing of Election Security Expert



U.S. Dept. of Justice Special Counsel Jack Smith has subpoenaed former Trump administration staffers possibly involved in the firing of Chris Krebs, a top cybersecurity official who had published a report calling the 2020 presidential election “the most secure in American history,” just days after the election, infuriating then-President Donald Trump.

The New York Times reports the special counsel’s investigators have “been asking witnesses about the events surrounding the firing” of Krebs (photo), who was appointed by Trump to the newly-created position of Director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, part of the U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security.

Krebs was fired by Trump on November 17, 2020 after tweeting that election fraud claims were bogus: “59 election security experts all agree, ‘in every case of which we are aware, these claims either have been unsubstantiated or are technically incoherent,’” according to The Washington Post.

READ MORE: ‘Sure Wasn’t by Drag Queens’: DeSantis Slammed for Ignoring Florida Mass Shooting That Included Children

“Krebs’s statement amounted to a debunking of Trump’s central claim that the November election was stolen,” The Post reported at the time.

The New York Times on Wednesday reports the Special Counsel’s investigators “appear focused on Mr. Trump’s state of mind around the firing of Mr. Krebs, as well as on establishing a timeline of events leading up to the attack on the Capitol by a pro-Trump mob on Jan. 6, 2021. The latest subpoenas, issued roughly two weeks ago, went to officials in the personnel office, according to the two people familiar with the matter.”

But national security and civil liberties journalist Marcy Wheeler asserts the Special Counsel’s efforts go further.

“I think it likely erroneous to imagine that Jack Smith is getting into Chris Krebs’ firing JUST to get to Trump’s mindset,” Wheeler tweeted. “He fired Krebs for doing something his Admin had specifically bought off on. It was a necessary part of the plot.”

“So,” Wheeler adds, “1) Trump fires Krebs for saying the election was fair 2) Trump fires Esper for saying he couldn’t invoke the Insurrection Act,” referring to then-Trump Secretary of Defense Mark Esper.

“Then he sought about sowing an insurrection based on claims the election wasn’t fair,” she notes.

RELATED: ‘Fired for Telling the Truth to the American People’: Legal Experts Blast Trump for Firing Top Cybersecurity Chief

MSNBC’s Steve Benen agrees, writing: “Presumably, pulling on this thread would also offer investigators additional evidence that the then-president was presented with the truth by his own team, even as he pushed his anti-election lies.”

Andrew Weissmann, the former FBI General Counsel who spent 20 years at DOJ, heralded the Special Counsel’s investigation into the firing of Krebs.

“A very natural thing for Jack to examine as part of plot to overthrow the election. AND Krebs will make a great trial witness for govt.,” Weissmann tweeted.


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‘Definitely a Yellow Flag’: DeSantis Campaign Rollout Could Endanger Iowa Megachurch’s Tax Status



Ron DeSantis kicked off his campaign at an Iowa megachurch, whose pastor may have flouted tax-exempt laws.

The Florida governor said last week he would welcome a bill to defund the IRS, but two tax law experts told The Daily Beast that he may be ignoring the Johnson Act prohibiting churches and charities from “participating or intervening, directly or indirectly, in any political campaign on behalf of, or in opposition to, any candidate for public office” by holding his first official campaign event at the Eternity Church in Clive.

“It’s definitely a yellow flag,” said Lloyd Mayer, a professor at the University of Notre Dame.

Mayer and Philip Hackney, a professor at the University of Pittsburgh, agreed the IRS prohibition could kick in if Pastor Jesse Newman spoke in his official capacity at the event.

IN OTHER NEWS: Jack Smith zeroes in on Trump’s firing of his own ‘disloyal’ cybersecurity official: NYT

“As he stands for righteousness and as the vicious onslaughts of those who plan to do wicked come against him,” Newman said at the event, standing at a podium with a DeSantis campaign poster on the front. “I pray [it will] have no effect on him or his family, or his campaign or his desire to stand up for the truth.”

Newman then offered a prayer seeking the governor’s election to higher office.

“God, I pray that all that the enemy means for harm, I believe you’re going to use it for good. We pray this in the name of Jesus,” the pastor said. “Could somebody say ‘Amen’?”

Tax experts say the church could argue it was offering DeSantis the same opportunity as any candidate, and they agreed that Newman’s personal political statements are protected by the First Amendment, but a federal court found in 2000 that the Johnson Amendment — Section 501(c)(3) in the federal code — sets limits when it comes to free speech and political expression by tax-exempt organizations.

The judge in that case affirmed the IRS decision to revoke the tax-exempt status of Church at Pierce Creek of New York, which took out a newspaper ad in 1992 condemning then-presidential candidate Bill Clinton’s support for abortion and LGBTQ rights.

“The government has a compelling interest in maintaining the integrity of the tax system and in not subsidizing partisan political activity, and Section 501(c)(3) is the least restrictive means of accomplishing that,” the court found in that case.

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