Kino, Italian, 2012/II

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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Where I Stand

I’ve given you a few details about who I am, but that doesn’t really tell you where I stand on the issues that face America today. Many of my friends call me a liberal. I consider myself to be a fiscally conservative social liberal. I am a registered independent and I have voted for both Democrats and Republicans.

Same-Sex Marriage

I’m a firm believer that every human being has right to equality under the law. Too many times have I seen religious beliefs be used to dictate moral and social standards onto others. Homosexuality is a naturally occurring condition of both animal and human biology and is akin to eye color or skin color. A person’s sexuality is hard wired into them at birth and their orientation can sit within a variable range from being totally straight through bisexuality to totally homosexual.

Separation of Church and State

Our founding fathers knew that America was home to people of many different faiths and even those without any faith. They also knew from watching the horror of history unfold in Europe in regards to religious intolerance that it was in effect often driven by the collusion of church and state acting as one, as a tool for men who desired money and power and secretly cared very little for actually saving the souls of their subjects. So when they wrote our Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and Deceleration of Independence they included this line.

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

In fact, the Danbury Baptist Association of Connecticut, fearing the Federal government would become a christian theocracy, and thus fearing prosecution, contacted Thomas Jefferson and expressed their fears. In a Reply to them on Jan, 1, 1801, Jefferson wrote…

I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should “make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,” thus building a wall of separation between Church & State.

Is America a Christian Nation?

The short answer… No.

Recently the Religious Right went into an uproar when President Obama, addressing the Turkish Parliament, uttered these lines..

“I’ve said before, one of the great strengths of the United States is, although as I mentioned, we have a very large Christian population, we do not consider ourselves a Christian nation or a Jewish nation or a Muslim nation ? we consider ourselves a nation of citizens who are bound by ideals and a set of values.”

But they forget that America is NOT a christian nation. We were not founded as such and we never have been. As I quoted earlier, the constitution forbids the establishment of a state religion. Just because a large percentage of Americans identify themselves as Christian does not mean we are a Christian nation. On June 10th 1797, President John Adams signed the ratified Treaty of Tripoli. Article 11 of that treaty reads…

Art. 11. As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion; as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquility, of Mussulmen; and, as the said States never entered into any war, or act of hostility against any Mahometan nation, it is declared by the parties, that no pretext arising from religious opinions, shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries.

There is some controversy surrounding the translation of the original treaty, which was written in Arabic, into English. However, it is the English version of the treaty, which includes article 11, that was presented to and ratified by Congress.

America is a melting pot of many religions and peoples from all parts of the world. Labeling us as a Christian Nation does injustice those Americans who are Muslim, Jewish, Baptist, Mormon, Native American, Buddhists, Wiccan, and any number of the myriad faiths that make up this country. If the government begins to legislate one religious faith over another into law, then it is violating the 1st Amendment to the Constitution.

Anytime the state infringes on the rights of it’s people in the name of religion it is wrong.

Abortion

I believe that abortion is wrong in most situations and that individuals that find themselves as unsuspecting parents to be should at a minimum weigh the decision very carefully. I do however feel that the only people qualified to make that decision is the parents themselves, with advise from doctors. Abortion should be a choice. A choice of last resort, but a choice none the less.

More to come

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