Service members discharged solely due to their sexual orientation may soon see their military records corrected to reflect their honorable service.Â
It is estimated that more than 100,000 Americans were discharged from the military because of their sexual orientation since World War II. Even though the ban on gay, lesbian, and bisexual service members was essentially lifted with the repeal of â€œDonâ€™t Ask, Donâ€™t Tellâ€ back in 2011, numerous veterans are still negatively impacted by their dishonorable discharge. For example, many are disqualified from accessing certain benefits that they are entitled to. Others may not be able to claim veteran status or could find it more difficult to acquire civilian employment. Some could even be prevented from voting.
Thatâ€™s why, on July 15, U.S. Representatives Mark Pocan (D-WI) and Charles Rangel (D-NY) along with U.S. Senators Brian Schatz (D-HI) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) reintroduced the Restore Honor to Service Members Act. The proposed legislation, firstÂ introduced into the House inÂ 2013Â and the Senate inÂ 2014,Â would help service members discharged solely due to their sexual orientation correct their military records to reflect their honorable service and reinstate the benefits they earned. Â
â€œAs our nation continues to make great strides toward full equality, we must also do everything possible to rectify the effects of past discriminatory policies,â€Â said Representative Pocan.Â â€œOur veterans risked their lives for our country, and it is crucialÂ that those discharged from the armed forces due to their sexual orientation receive the recognition and benefits they deserve. The Restore Honor to Service Members Act streamlines this process, ensuring their service is respected and valued in the eyes of our country.â€
â€œI am proud to re-introduce the Restore Honor to Service Members Act together with Senator Schatz and Congressman Pocan,â€Â said Representative Rangel. â€œAs a Korean War veteran, I understand how much this recognition means for our Service Members who faced discrimination. It is about time we pay proper tribute to the veterans who deserve to be honored for their valiant service to our country. Seeking redress for them is not only the right thing to do but also will correct historical injustice.”
â€œFrom the repeal of â€˜Donâ€™t Ask, Donâ€™t Tellâ€™ to the Supreme Courtâ€™s historic ruling on marriage equality, we have made great strides in the fight to end discrimination.Â But there is still more work to be done to protect and promote full equality and ensure we help right our past wrongs,â€Â said Senator Schatz. â€œToday, thousands of brave men and women who served our country are still denied the benefits and honorable service record they deserve. Itâ€™s long past time we honor our commitment to all our service members and finally restore the dignity of gay and lesbian veterans who were unjustly discharged from our military.â€
â€œThe Restore Honor to Service Members Act will help streamline the process for veterans to clear their records of discriminatory discharges,â€Â said Senator Gillibrand.Â â€œVeterans who honorably serve our nation should not be defending themselves against unwarranted punishment based solely on sexual orientation. Our service members deserve to receive the recognition they earned for their sacrifice and courage.â€
Believing there is strong bipartisan support for the measure, Matt Thorn, Interim Executive Director for OutServe-SLDN, said,Â â€œI urge the leadership in both chambers, Speaker of the House of Representative John Boehner and United States Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, the respective committees chairs, Representative Mac Thornberry and Senator John McCain, to allow this legislation its day in committee and for a vote on the floor.â€Â
The legislation is supported by Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, VoteVets.org, OutServe-SLDN, the Human Rights Campaign, American Veterans for Equal Rights, Lambda Legal, Swords to Plowshares, the American Bar Association, Universal Unitarian Association, and the American Humanist Association.
The Restore Honor to Service Members Act has 97 cosponsors and has bipartisan support in the House of Representatives. The bill is also cosponsored in the Senate by Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Gary Peters (D-Mich.), Tom Udall (D-N.M.), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaiâ€™i), Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Al Franken (D-Minn.), and Cory Booker (D-N.J.).Â
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ABC Host Pops Marco Rubio’s Balloon Rant: It ‘Happened Three Times’ Under Trump
ABC host Jonathan Karl reminded Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) that former President Donald Trump had failed to notify Americans on at least three occasions when Chinese balloons entered the country’s airspace.
During an interview on ABC, Karl asked Rubio if President Joe Biden should have gone against the advice of the U.S. military and instead shot the balloon down over populated land.
Rubio agreed that the debris could have “hurt, harmed or killed people.”
“If that was the case, then I think it really would have been helpful for the president of the United States to get on national television and explain to the American people, this is what we’re dealing with, this is what I’m going to do about it, and this is why I haven’t done it yet. None of that happened. And I don’t know why. I don’t know why they waited so long to tell people about this.”
But Karl pointed out that Trump had failed to disclose similar incidents at least three times.
“This happened three times under the previous president,” the host said. “Obviously, there were no public notifications there.”
Burn Bags and Use of Personal Email: Justices’ Security Practices Even Worse Than Leak Investigation Showed
Multiple sources familiar with the court’s operations told CNN that justices often used personal email accounts for sensitive communications, employees used printers that didn’t produce logs and “burn bags” to collect sensitive materials for destruction were often left open and unattended in hallways.
“This has been going on for years,” one former employee said.
Some justices were slow to adopt email technology — they were “not masters of information security protocol,” according to one source — and court employees were afraid to confront them over the security risks.
Supreme Court marshal Gail Curley in her investigative report noted that printer logs intended to track document production were insufficient, but a former employee said employees who had VPN access could print documents from any computer, and remote work during COVID-19 shutdowns and otherwise meant draft opinions could have been taken from the building in violation of court guidelines.
Curley’s report noted that court methods for destroying sensitive documents should be improved, but three employees said striped burn bags supplied to chambers were often left sitting out unattended, and each justice had their own protocols for disposing of court documents.
A source familiar with court security practices said some colleagues stapled burn bags shut, while others filled them to capacity and left them near their desks, and others simply left them sitting in hallways where anyone with access to non-public areas could have taken sensitive materials.
Ethics Complaint Against Sinema Urges Investigation Into Staffers’ Duties and Her Possible ‘Abuse of Taxpayer Dollars’
If you are hired to work in Senator Kyrsten Sinema‘s office on Capitol Hill there is a 37-page memo you’ll want to read detailing all the responsibilities her staffers are required to perform, from getting her groceries, calling Verizon and going to her D.C. home to wait for a repair person if the internet goes out, scheduling massages, and ensuring her very detailed airplane requirements are met.
“It is your job to make her as comfortable as possible on each flight,” the memo says, as The Daily Beast first reported in December.
But now a group of 13 non-profit organizations have joined to file an ethics complaint against Senator Sinema (I-AZ), a new Daily Beast report reveals Friday, including details from that 37-page memo which the newly-independent lawmaker directed to be drawn up. Dated Thursday, the complaint is titled: “Letter to Senate Ethics Committee Regarding Reports of Sinema Abusing Taxpayer Dollars.”
“Senate Ethics guidelines stipulate that staff should not be asked to perform personal errands for members. This is an unambiguous ethical boundary,” the group’s complaint reads.
It also points to that 37-page memo, which it says, “indicates that staff are required, as a condition of their jobs, to carry out numerous tasks that are outside the scope of public employment, including doing personal errands for the Senator, carrying out household tasks at her private residence, and advancing their own funds for her personal purchases. It makes unreasonably precise scheduling demands, and former staff have confirmed some of the allegations.”
The allegations continue.
“And, most troubling, it calls on staff members, who are employed and paid by the public and explicitly barred from campaign activity, to schedule and facilitate political fundraisers and meetings with campaign donors, presumably during the workday while they are on the clock and physically on federal property.”
“Senate staff are prohibited under your guidelines from engaging in political activity ‘on Senate time, using Senate equipment or facilities.’ While you have not prohibited campaign activity outside work hours, the plain language of the memo clearly implies that Sen. Sinema expects her staff to carry out these scheduling tasks during the workday. And these tasks may separately violate Senate Rule 41.1, which explicitly prohibits Senate employees from ‘solicit[ing]’ campaign funds.”
The complaint also alleges that “Sen. Sinema required her staff to schedule three physical therapy and massage sessions a week related to her training for athletic competitions, and to tightly manage her dietary schedule — while allotting only a 30-minute period on Wednesdays for meetings with the constituents she represents.”
The carefully-worded complaint adds, “the allegations paint a picture of a Senator who is not only unresponsive to her constituents, but also disrespectful and even abusive to her employees and wholly unconcerned about her obligations under the law.”
The Daily Beast has posted a copy of the complaint here.
You can read The Beast’s full report here.
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