Open to Serve

August 26th, 2011


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

Creative Commons License photo credit: DVIDSHUB

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Teaching the Gay

NOM’s Maggie Gallagher doesn’t like the idea that children as young as 6th graders might just happen to be taught how to be safe when having sex. Unfortunately she seems to think that any such talk in a school about sex is somehow related to gay sex. Her post includes a quote that covers a recent education proposal for 6th graders in Helena, Montana.

Understand that sexual intercourse includes but is not limited to vaginal, oral, or anal penetration; using the penis, fingers, tongue or objects.

Understand gender identity is different from sexual orientation.

The only conclusion that Maggie seems to come to is that this is about gay sex. Also unfortunate for Maggie is the fact that everything in that quote covers what heterosexual couples do when they get under the covers. The proof of which can be found in the video section of any porn shop on the planet.

But then I guess Maggie would prefer that kids get absolutely no education at all about sex, thus leaving them to discover the pitfalls and hazards like unwanted pregnancies (which lead to the abortions Maggie doesn’t like either) and STD’s. It’s great to want kids to abstain from sex, but one has to be intellectually dishonest with themselves if they believe that kids won’t experiment. Shouldn’t we teach them how to be safe when they do it?

I’m posting this here since NOM prevents me from posting in their comments. They certainly can’t have any civil dissenting opinions or facts that discredit them on their own blog.

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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Harkin changes Position

It looks as if Senator Tom Harkin is back on my list of politicians I?m likely to support in future elections. In a recent appearance on the IPTV program, Iowa Press, the Senator stated that the unanimous ruling from the Iowa Supreme Court in the Varnum vs. Brien case had been ?enlightening.? Harkin, who in 1996 voted in favor of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), said that he would not support any attempts to amend the state constitution removing the rights of gays and lesbians to marry in the state of Iowa. Harkin also rejected the idea that has been put forward by other Iowa congressional members like Republican Steve King, who have said that the issue of Marriage Equality would dominate the 2010 election cycle. When asked about why is views had changed Harkin said this?

Well, we all grow as we get older and we learn things and we become more sensitive to people and people’s lives, and the more I’ve looked at that I’ve grown to think differently about how people, how we should live, and I guess I’m at the point of live and let live,

Frankly I believe that is how most Iowans feel about the topic. Iowans have traditionally been fairly a head of the curve in civil rights issues, and most Iowans are more concerned about things like jobs, education, and healthcare, and don?t really care what their neighbors might be doing in their bedrooms. If Republicans like Steve King have the impression that they will make up ground in a state that has steadily moved toward the Democrats by hanging their hat on social issues like Marriage Equality then I get the feeling they are setting themselves up for disappointment. Loving same sex couples are getting married in Iowa today. The earliest it could be put on a statewide ballot is Nov 2011, that?s more than 2 1/2 years away. By then enough people will realize that the sky hasn?t fallen, that the seasons still come and go, that families of all sorts are just as strong and prosperous as ever, and that there are far more important things to worry about.

Now if only we can get him to support the Repeal of both DOMA and Don?t Ask Don?t Tell.

Bartz misplaced ethics

State Sen. Merlin Bartz, of Grafton has been passing around a petition that encourages county recorders to violate state law by denying marriage certificates to same-sex couples beginning on Monday the 27th, when the recent state Supreme Court decision goes into effect.

WHO-TV is reporting that former state lawmaker Ed Fallon filled an ethics complaint against Bartz, saying that Bartz is violating his oath of office by encouraging the records to break the law.

“For a state senator to use his office and public resources to encourage other elected officials to disobey a unanimous ruling of the Iowa Supreme Court is unconscionable, and possibly a violation of state law,” Fallon said in a statement.

Last week the Assistant Attorney General Heather Adams sent a strongly worded email to county records reminding them that failure to uphold the law can and will cost them their jobs. The AG’s office also posted this on their web site.

According to Radio Iowa’s web site, Sen. Bartz blasted the AG, suggesting that AG Tom Miller is being hypocritical by threatening to remove any county records that violate the state law and supreme court rules on same sex marriage when the AG has not done the same thing to the Mitchell County Attorney who has refused to uphold the state’s smoking ban.

Mitchell County Attorney Mark Walk issued a quick response.

“I have not refused to enforce the smoking ban,”?Walk?wrote?in?an email, adding that he had assisted the?Mitchell County Department of?Health in enforcing the ban.? “…I have stated that in certain situations I felt that the law was not proper and would not enforce it in those situations; however, that situation has never occurred.? To the best of my knowledge, Mitchell County is 100 percent in compliance with the law. My stand was largely symbolic.? It was to bring attention to a law that was influenced by the tremendous power of the gambling industry.”

Tom Miller said

Ultimately, county recorders do not have the authority to decide whether to follow the court?s ruling.

My own personal thoughts on this is that Bartz has far overstepped his oath. He is more than welcome to his opinion on same sex marriage but he is violating his oath as a state Senator to defend and support our constitution by this pettition.

More ont eh story can also be found at the Quad City Times.


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.

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