Senator Harkin: Fair

February 13th, 2009

160px-tom_harkin_official_portraitI find myself not too happy with Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) today. It appears that on Wednesday he went on to the liberal talk radio show of Bill Press and said?

BILL PRESS:? Alright, well good for you. You know, we gotta work on that, because they are just shutting down progressive talk from one city after another. All we want is, you know, some balance on the airwaves, that’s all. You know, we’re not going to take any of the conservative voices off the airwaves, but just make sure that there are a few progressives and liberals out there, right?

SENATOR TOM HARKIN (D-IA): Exactly, and that’s why we need the fair — that’s why we need the Fairness Doctrine back.


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Open to Serve

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The end of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell is quickly approaching. On September 20th the repeal and certification process officially is complete and the sexuality that a person is born will no longer be grounds for discharge. As we approach this historic day that marks the end of seventeen years of institutionalized discrimination former and active duty service members are telling their stories of how they made it through and what it was like to endure.

GQ magazine has collected some of these stories and presents them here.

Like the story of Eric Alva, the first American injured in Operation Iraqi Freedom.

When Alva signed up, before "Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell," he had to lie on his paperwork. "I knew I was lying," he says. "But I loved what I did, I loved my job, and I didn’t want to tell anyone. I said, ‘It’s going to be my secret.’ I knew I was not going to be happy in a way, but I knew this was what I wanted." In 2003 he was deployed to the Middle East, and on March 21 he crossed the border from Kuwait. His unit was part of a huge convoy that stopped outside Basra. Alva got out of his Humvee and went to fetch something from the back of the vehicle. "That’s when I triggered the IED. I was awake, my hearing was sort of gone. My hand was covered in blood and part of my index finger was gone. The chaplain was holding my head and I was telling him I didn’t want to die. I was taken off a helicopter in Kuwait—it was estimated that I was only in Iraq about three hours—and carried into surgery. I woke up later and when I looked down I saw that the right side of my sheet was flat. I cried myself asleep, only to wake up hours later and see that it’s true: My leg is gone."

DADT not only affected the lives of those who risked their lives on the battlefield. It also took a toll on those they loved.

"The relationship lasted for about four years, but I always felt like I was disrespecting him, to have to pretend he didn’t exist when I went to work. When I got deployed, he was there with my family when I left. It kind of sucked—to shake his hand and a little pat on the back and ‘I’ll see you when I see you’ kind of thing. And when you’re getting ready to come back, the spouses were getting classes—here’s how you welcome your Marine back into the family—and my boyfriend didn’t get any of that. I had a really hard time adjusting to being home. We tried to make it work for a year but he was getting more and more paranoid about people finding out about us. It killed me that he felt that way because of me. I don’t think we ever really had a chance, ultimately."

For some DADT became the weapon used by haters.

The harassment grew worse. Of a number of escalating events—Rocha was also force-fed dog food and locked into a shit-filled dog kennel—the most abusive and explicitly homophobic was when he was ordered by his commander to act in a dog-training scenario, repeated over and over so that every dog in the unit could be run through it. "The scenarios were supposed to be relevant to what the dogs or the handlers would experience. Like a domestic dispute, or an armed individual who has been spotted on the base, or someone strapped with explosives. This day he chose that the scenario would be that I would be getting caught giving another service member a blow job and, once the dogs came in, I was supposed to jump up from having been in between this guy’s legs. He would coach as to how exactly he wanted it played out, which was the sickest part of it." Rocha says he had to act this out between half a dozen and a dozen times, about fifteen to twenty minutes each time. As they repeated it, his commander ordered Rocha to make the scenario more extreme. "He wanted me to be very queer and flamboyant. He wanted me to pretend like there was stuff on my face. Loving it so much that each scenario was gayer and more disgusting—the introduction of fake semen, that I would have to wipe my face, or that I would have to make slurping noises. The level of humiliation I experienced that day, that’s when I knew I wasn’t safe in the military."

I highly recommend heading over there and reading more http://www.gq.com/news-politics/big-issues/201109/dont-ask-dont-tell-gay-soldiers-military#ixzz1WAXDJMrl

Creative Commons License photo credit: DVIDSHUB

Questions

In response to Jennifer Roback Morse’s remarks to the Minnesota house I have asked them the following questions. I post a screen shot of them here since NOM and the Ruth Institute are generally not interested in open civil debate. I don’t expect them to provide any answers to them.

New Picture

Gay and Lesbian people exist. We always have and always will. Regardless of what NOM, the Ruth Institute, or any of the other discriminatory organizations that continue to turn our own government against us hope to achieve. Sometimes I truly wonder what their goal really is. Is it to try and somehow cure us and eliminate us? I don’t think that there really is a clear answer to that question and frankly if that is the goal, it’s a fool’s goal because it can never be achieved. More Gay and Lesbian Americans are born everyday. Trying to rid America of us makes about as much sense as trying to get rid of everyone with red hair.

So if we aren’t going away what sort of protections do we deserve if not marriage? The reality of the mater is that we do fall in love. We do have children. We do build lives and families together. We buy homes together. We go on vacations together. We worry about paying the bills together just like any other family. Is it right that when one of us dies we have no say over burial or that we have to pay gift taxes on the things we bought together as a couple? If one of us becomes sick do we not have a right to visit our partner? Should we not have any rights to the children we may have spent years raising together simply because the state won’t allow us to adopt our partner’s biological child?

These are questions that can’t be answered by a simple contract other than that of civil marriage. Contracts other than marriage can be and often are challenged in court by family members that may not approve of the same sex relationship.

Without marriage are we just supposed to live a life without love, in solitude, and unhappiness? If you deny us marriage, then what will you allow?

The Rising Cost – Part 1

Justin Aaberg was only 15 years old. He had come out to his mother when he was 13, and while on the outside he seemed to have a great life going, on the inside he was a tormented storm. LGBT students at the Anoka-Hennepin School that Justin attended were, like is so frequently the case, easy targets as other students, and even teachers turned a blind eye. It finally got to a point where he just couldn?t handle it any more and feeling he had no where to turn to for help, he hanged himself in his room. Justin was the sixth student from the school to take his own life in the last 2 years and most are believed to have been the result of homophobic bulling.

More on Justin at WCCO including a video.

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The Political Playground

On July 14th the NAACP passed a resolution condemning the racist elements with in the Tea Party movement. Needless to say that didn?t go over well with the Tea Party or the conservative movement in general.

Now, I’ll be honest, I haven?t read the text of the resolution, but I find it hard to believe that the NAACP was actually condemning the entire Tea Party Movement, and was instead just targeting the racist fringe elements, elements that tend to exist within all most any political movement. Elements that most Tea Party leaders themselves have been trying to remove.

So, on the 19th, Andrew Brietbart dug up some video clips from an NAACP awards dinner in March where Shirley Sherrod, USDA Georgia Director of Rural Development gave a speech, edited them to remove any context, and posted them on his site Big Government in an attempt to prove a point. Using editied video to undermine your political opponents has exploded thanks to the advent of the YouTube era.

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Definition of Marriage

For several days now, I?ve been in a running argument with an individual who goes by the name of ?On Lawn? over in the comments sections of the blog ran by anti-gay equality group National Organization for Marriage. In several comments here, here, and here, this person seems to imply that procreation, or at least the potential for procreation, is a requirement of marriage. I?ve tried several times to get this person to explain this concept but they keep brushing off the question calling it absurd. When I tried to point out that there is no link between marriage and procreation they came back with this.

Well, there shows the damage they want to do to the institution. If marriage can?t look equally at the interests of all involved in the practice of human mating, then you tell me what can.

Prehistoric humans didn?t marry before they mated, they just found a bush did it. When you look at the whole of human history, marriage is a relatively new creation, only being a few thousand years old. Our very existence proves that marriage is not a requirement or an essential element of the human mating process.

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