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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Posts Tagged ‘Marriage Equality’

Ligestilling i Danmark

Denmark is the land of my ancestors and thanks to my Mother, Grandmother, and Great-Grandmother have a deep love for the country so it makes me very happy to hear that their legislature is finalizing a bill that will bring marriage equality to same-sex couples there this summer.

In 1989 Denmark became the first nation in the world to allow same-sex unions of any sort, and this bill will make them the 11th nation to provide full equality to the LGBT community.

Maryland House Punts

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The Maryland House of Delegates returned the Marriage Equality bill back to committee today, presumably because they didn’t have the 71 votes that were needed to pass it.

The which narrowly passed the state senate and is supported by Governor Martin O’Malley is most likely dead for this year. Polls have shown that a slight majority of Maryland residents support full marriage equality for same sex couples.

Indiana House votes for Discrimination

imageOn Tuesday the Indiana House of Representatives voted 70-26 in favor of adding discrimination against same sex couples to their state constitution. The National Organization for Marriage and other hate groups rejoice.

The Courier Press reports that the bill now moves on to the state Senate where similar bills have passed before. Indiana’s amendment process is similar to Iowa’s in that the bill will have to pass both chambers again in 2013 or 2014 before it can be put on the November 2014 ballot.

Hopefully by then the US Supreme court will have upheld the tenants of the 14th amendment.

The Bible and Star Trek

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This was tweeted by Yuset Najafi who was live tweeting the public debate on the Marriage Equality bill that has been proposed in Maryland.

I have to wonder if this man has ever actually watched Star Trek. One of the greatest icons of Star Trek, Mr. Spock is the product of inter-species mating, in the case of our pointy eared heart throb, Human and Vulcan.

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Spock is also far from alone in Star Trek Characters that are from two species.

B’Elanna Torres of Voyager was Klingon/Human, Deanna Troi of the Next Generation was Human/Betazoid. Namoi Wildman who was born on Voyager was Human/Ktarian Memory Alpha goes on to list dozens of other characters that are mixes of Star Trek races as diverse as Romulans, Kazon, Trill, and Cardasians.

Even outside of the fictional universe that is one of the world’s three great Sci-fi franchises, there are examples of cross-species matting, such as interspecific crosses between lions and tigers or intergeneric hybrids like those between Sheep and Goats. Beyond this guys general lack of knowledge of Star Trek or biology, it still doesn’t answer the question, “What does any of this have to do with whether the state of Maryland should recognize the civil right of gay and lesbian couples to marry?”

Update: Good As You has posted audio of the Maryland debate.

SCOTUS Denies Jackson

imageThe US Supreme Court issued a no comment denial to hear the case brought by Harry Jackson in DC in his continuing failed attempt of reinstating marriage discrimination against same sex couples.

This denial, while great for DC, has little to no meaning in the overall position of the court on marriage equality for same sex couples. Thousands of cases are submitted to the Supreme Court every year, and in the end only a couple of hundred ever actually make it through the door. It is highly suspected that if the Prop 8 case gets to the Supreme Court, they will in deed take it on.

For DC however, the denial means that the lower courts ruling stands and that there will be no vote to attempt to remove marriage equality there.

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