Open to Serve

August 26th, 2011

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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

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Iowa News

Congressman Boswell Attacked

imageIowa Congressman Leonard Boswell and his family were at his Lamoni farm when an attacker entered the home and held Boswell’s daughter at gun point and demanded money. The congressman fought with the intruder which gave his grandson time to get a get and load a shotgun which scarred off the attacker. Authorities are investigating and the motive at the moment seems to have been mainly robbery.

Des Moines, Ia. – Please find a statement below from Congressman Leonard Boswell’s Chief of Staff, Grant Woodard, concerning an incident at the Congressman’s farm on the night of July 16th.

At approximately 10:45 p.m. on Saturday there was an attempted home invasion at Congressman Leonard Boswell’s farm outside of Lamoni, Iowa. At the house at the time was Congressman Boswell, Dody Boswell, his daughter Cindy Brown, and grandson Mitchell Brown. The intruder entered the front door of the farm house and physically assaulted Cindy while demanding money at gunpoint. Hearing Cindy’s screams, Congressman Boswell entered the entryway and attempted to disarm the intruder of his weapon. While the scuffle between Congressman Boswell and the intruder was occurring, Mitchell was able to secure a shotgun from another room. Mitchell pointed the shotgun at the intruder who then retreated into the fields around the house.

Besides some scrapes and bruises, Congressman Boswell and his family are fine.

The Decatur County Sheriff’s Department is currently investigating the incident along with state and federal authorities.

Congressman Boswell would like to express his sincere thanks to all the members of the law enforcement community who have worked through the night on this matter.

School Jam

From KCCI-TV

The St. Ansgar school in Northeastern Iowa is, like most schools in America, having difficulty getting kids to stop using their cell phones during school hours which are distracting and can help propagate cheating. St. Ansgar?s answer, signal jammers. The school board recently passed a motion to spend up to $5000.00 to purchase jamming equipment.

A couple of questions I have here is one, it doesn?t seem to be very legal. In 2005 the FCC issued a public notice stating?

In response to multiple inquiries concerning the sale and use of transmitters designed to prevent, jam or interfere with the operation of cellular and personal communications service (PCS) telephones, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is issuing this Public Notice to make clear that the marketing, sale, or operation of this type of equipment is unlawful. Anyone involved with such activities may be subject to forfeitures, fines or even criminal prosecution.

So I don?t see how the school can do this. I understand that they haven?t actually bought the equipment yet and that the Iowa Association of School Boards is helping research whether or not it?s legal (maybe they should read the FCC notice I just linked).

Another question I have is, how does the school ensure that the jamming of the signals only encompasses the school grounds and not say, half the neighborhood the school resides in. While I?m no expert on signal jamming I would think that the equipment wouldn?t be very discriminating in what it blocks.

And finally, what about emergencies? While officials state that the equipment would be shut off in emergencies, the time it takes for someone to go to switch and shut it down could mean the difference between someone living or dying.

I-Jobs Projects Moving Forward

The I-Jobs program that was recently signed into law by Governor Chet Culver is all ready starting to hand out money.

According to WHO-TV the first seven applications have been approved. All of them appear to be in the Cedar Rapids area, which was hit very hard by the 2008 flooding.

The projects would receive $45 million in I-JOBS funding. Some of the money will be pumped into Cedar Rapids’ public library, Paramount Theater, Public Works Building as well as the National Czech and Slovak Museum.

Finally

Gay RightsThe front page of this mornings edition of the Des Moines Register says it all really. On Friday, April 3rd, the Iowa Supreme Court unanimously rules that the 1998 statute that placed a ban on gay marriage was unconstitutional.

Ruling Summary

Full Ruling

The night before, it had been announced on WHO that the ruling would be out Friday, and myself, along with many other Iowans, waited anxiously. Friday morning, around 8:30 am the Iowa Courts web site crashed, probably from the massive amounts of traffic. I ended up finding out the result from WHO again.

Read the rest of this entry »

Iowa Ruleing

The Iowa State Supreme Court will release it’s ruling on the state’s gay marriage bank on Friday.

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