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

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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year of anti-gay discrimination officially embedded in military policy, despite the false belief that DADT has been repealed.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.
[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7-MjLWkDNqY&fs=1&hl=en_US]

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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News

AOC Slams Anti-Biden Efforts: ‘My Community Does Not Have the Option to Lose’

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U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, one of the most-powerful voices in the House Democratic caucus, re-asserted her support for President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris as some congressional Democrats along with pundits, pollsters, and strategists have called on the President to quit his campaign.

The 34-year-old progressive New York Democrat in a nearly hour-long live video recorded after midnight declared her opposition to those proposing an “open convention,” where the Democratic nominee fro president would be decided, despite the 2024 primaries which Biden and Harris won. She blasted the numerous Democrats anonymously calling for Biden to end his campaign, and slammed those who have little to lose who appear to be behind the movement to oust the President, and those who have already concluded the Democrats cannot win.

“I will say, what upsets me is people saying, ‘we will lose.’ ”

“For me,” she continued, before taking a long, thoughtful pause, “I don’t care who – to a certain extent – I don’t care what name is on there. We are not losing.”

READ MORE: House Dem Leader Hakeem Jeffries and Hispanic Caucus Campaign Arm Rally Behind Biden

“I’m about you, but my community does not have the option to lose. My community does not have the luxury of accepting loss in July,” she said before stressing, “of an election year.”

“Like, my people are the first ones deported. They’re the first ones put in Rikers,” she continued, referring to the infamous New York City jail. “They’re the first ones whose families are killed by war. And this is horrific. I’m not here to like say everything is amazing. Okay, I’m not here to say that like, oh, you know, to lie to people. What I am here to say is that we need to live, we need to make decisions in the conditions that we have before us.”

“Most of the Ocasio-Cortez’s nearly hour-long Live session focused on the risks of forcing Biden to step aside, including potential legal challenges from Republicans and ballot access deadlines in various states. ‘I have not seen a scenario, an alternative scenario, that I feel does not set us up for enormous peril,’ she said,” Business Insider reported.

“If you’re falling out of a coconut tree, God bless you,” she said. “If you’re riding with the President, God bless. I’m not an open-convention person. I think that is crazy.”

READ MORE: ‘Unmitigated Disaster’: Conservatives Stunned by ‘Clinically-Insane Trump Speech’

Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez also made headlines by pointing out that she believes if President Biden were to step aside, Vice President Kamala Harris would also be targeted by some of the same Democrats trying to oust the President.

“I’m just going to say it: If you think that there is consensus among the people who want Joe Biden to leave… that they will support Kamala, Vice President Harris, you would be mistaken,” she added. “They are interested in removing the whole ticket.”

To those Democrats leaking opinions or being quoted anonymously, she had a few strong words.

“That’s b*llsh*t. If you have an opinion, say it with your chest and say it in public,” she said. “That’s a bunch of horsesh*t.”

Her Instagram Live remarks have over 80,000 likes and 6000 comments.

What her full video and the short clip above or at this link.

READ MORE: ‘Stop the Attacks’: 1400 Black Women Leaders Demand DNC Support Biden and Harris

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News

House Dem Leader Hakeem Jeffries and Hispanic Caucus Campaign Arm Rally Behind Biden

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Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, in line to become Speaker if Democrats retake the House in November, Friday morning told reporters the presidential ticket has not changed and he believes President Joe Biden is capable of doing the job and winning re-election.

Jeffries’ remarks come amid calls for President Biden to exit the re-election campaign, largely from the “Democratic machine,” including pundits, strategists, and pollsters, along with some Democratic members of the House and Senate.

“President Biden, as I’ve said repeatedly, is our nominee,” Leader Jeffries said in Brooklyn Friday morning, according to video (below) posted by WNBC-TV managing editor Steven Bognar. “He has a tremendous track record of success. He’s one of the most accomplished American presidents in our history. And, he has the vision, I believe the ability, the capacity and the track record to make a case to the American people that will result in us being successful in November.”

“I’ve answered that question repeatedly over the last three weeks,” Jeffries also told reporters, as NBC 4 reported. “I’ve answered that question repeatedly, my answer has not changed.”

Also Friday morning the congressional arm of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus announced its endorsement of the President’s re-election bid.

READ MORE: ‘Stop the Attacks’: 1400 Black Women Leaders Demand DNC Support Biden and Harris

“The fundraising arm of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, Bold PAC, has endorsed President Joe Biden for re-election, the Biden campaign said in a statement on Friday,” Reuters reports.

Forbes reported last week, “Rep. Steven Horsford, D-Nev., chair of the influential Congressional Black Caucus, expressed support for President Joe Biden, bolstering Biden’s argument that his base is still behind him amid calls for him to step aside in the race.”

Also last week, The Washington Post reported, “Black House Democrats embrace Biden at another critical juncture.”

“The importance of the roughly 60-member Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) — which includes [Rep. James] Clyburn and House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) — was on display Monday night as Biden met with the bloc in a Zoom call, the first with a group of elected lawmakers. The message that many Black Democrats planned to convey to Biden, according to the people familiar with the CBC’s thinking: We will stick by you as we always have.”

READ MORE: ‘Unmitigated Disaster’: Conservatives Stunned by ‘Clinically-Insane Trump Speech’

Congressman Clyburn, who was instrumental in Biden winning the Democratic nomination in 2020, and the election, “has said publicly that he is firmly behind Biden but open to embracing Vice President Harris filling the role if Biden steps aside,” The Post reported.

But while last week the paper noted, “not a single Black House Democrat has defected,” Friday morning one member of the CBC did. U.S. Rep. Marc Veasey (D-TX) became the first member of the Congressional Black Caucus to break ranks, as Punchbowl News’ Max Cohen reported.

MSNBC reports on Friday a total of six members of the U.S. House and one U.S. Senator called on President Biden to exit the race.

Watch video of Democratic Leader Jeffries from Friday below or at this link.

READ MORE: ‘Democratic Machine’ Strategists Behind Move to Oust Biden: Ex-Congressman

 

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‘Unmitigated Disaster’: Conservatives Stunned by ‘Clinically-Insane Trump Speech’

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The fourth and final night of the Republican National Convention in Milwaukee on Thursday is being panned by pundits, political strategists, grassroots voters, and even some in the press, as many express shock and condemnation over Donald Trump’s presidential nomination acceptance speech, or, as one critic put it, the “clinically-insane Trump speech.”

Chris Wallace, the former long-time Fox News anchor turned CNN commentator declared he was “disappointed,” and suggested Trump’s 90+ minute speech (transcript) helped President Joe Biden’s re-election campaign.

Trump’s speech got off to a good start, Wallace said, but after awhile the GOP nominee, “couldn’t keep up the act, and so we started hearing about ‘crazy Nancy Pelosi,’ and cheating on elections, and talking about Biden. Frankly, it was a long speech, it was a rambling speech, it was a speech by an older man and I couldn’t help but think that the people who are going to be happiest tonight are not the people at Trump headquarters, but the Democrats, maybe at Biden headquarters, maybe at the headquarters of the people who think they are going to replace Joe Biden, but Jake, we have ourselves a presidential campaign again.”

READ MORE: ‘Stop the Attacks’: 1400 Black Women Leaders Demand DNC Support Biden and Harris

CNN fact-checker Daniel Dale reported Trump delivered at least 22 “falsehoods” during his remarks, including that when he left office, “the world was at peace.”


Even The New York Times, which critics say has often ignored or whitewashed Trump’s worst remarks and weaknesses while focusing on President Biden’s – to the point of calling for Biden’s exit but not Trump’s – ran this headline overnight, invoking the ex-president’s 2017 inauguration speech: “Trump Struggles to Turn the Page on ‘American Carnage’.”

“On the last night of the G.O.P. convention on Thursday, Donald J. Trump promised to bridge political divides, and then returned to delighting in deepening them,” the paper of record reported.

Meanwhile, conservatives – former Republicans and current, Never-Trump Republicans – led the criticism on social media Thursday night and into Friday morning.

The Lincoln Project’s Stuart Stevens, a top political strategist and former Republican, panned Thursday night’s GOP convention: “A man who beat his wife introduced a Republican nominee found liable of sexual assault the judge called rape. And the Republican Party thinks it’s great.”

“I’ve watched thousands of political speeches in thirty years in the business. This was by far the worst,” observed Mike Madrid, the Latino GOP political consultant and Lincoln Project co-founder, calling it “an unmitigated disaster.”

“Is anyone else seeing this with their own eyes?” Madrid asked on social media, referring to Trump’s speech. “Maybe, just maybe, this is what independent voters saw at the debate.”

“The [media’s] gonna call for his withdrawal after witnessing this obvious cognitive decline right?” Madrid also asked.

READ MORE: ‘Democratic Machine’ Strategists Behind Move to Oust Biden: Ex-Congressman

He summed it up in one word: “Fiasco.”

Former Republican U.S. Congressman Denver Riggleman declared: “Media should demand Trump step down based on mental issues and incoherence.”

Fred Wellman, the former Lincoln Project executive director had a few words for top Democratic donors dissatisfied with President Joe Biden: “Hey Democratic big donors! Shut up and get back to work. Jesus. We are going to beat this loser like a drum.”

“The View” co-host Ana Navarro-Cárdenas, a Republican who opposes Donald Trump wrote: “If this clinically-insane Trump speech does not get Democrats out of their defeatist doldrums, and focused and energized around electing their nominee -instead of tearing him down- I don’t know what will.”

She added, “And you all are screaming that Biden has dementia….?”

Former Republican Rick Wilson, an award-winning political TV ad expert and Lincoln Project co-founder decimated Trump’s speech and invoked the nominee’s top campaign chiefs:

“Trump’s speech was, objectively, the single worst convention acceptance speech in modern history. It was a ramblefuck disaster from start to its long-delayed finish, and nothing is going to make it better. You know. I know it. LaCivita and Wiles know it. Utter disaster.”

Former Republican U.S. Congressman Joe Walsh added, “And one more thing: I don’t want to hear anyone in the media talk about Biden’s cognitive decline without also talking about Trump’s cognitive decline. Thanks.”

Republican Sarah Longwell, a political strategist and publisher of the conservative news and opinion site The Bulwark, commented throughout Trump’s speech.

“What would [you] say this speech is about?” she asked toward the end. Minutes earlier she remarked, “Rambling man.” And: “I dunno, this weirdo seems pretty beatable.”

Watch the videos above or at this link.

READ MORE: ‘Have to Stop This Psychopath’: Conway Launches PAC Focused on Trump ‘Mental Instability’

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