Recently, the military homecoming pictures of two couples have made the news. The first, Petty officers Marissa Gaeta and Citlalic Snell, won the chance to be the first to kiss after Gaeta’s ship returned from 80 days at sea last December, the first time that had happened since the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell repeal went into effect. The second picture rocketed across the internet a week ago, when Marine Sgt. Brandon Morgan returned after a six-month deployment in Afghanistan and shared his first kiss with boyfriend Dalan Wells on the tarmac in Hawaii.
I want to slam LaBarbera hard (not like that) for this, but he’s not alone in his attempt to continue the fiction that gay people kissing is shocking and pornographic. In November of 2010, British censors pixelated a gay kiss in Katy Perry’s Firework video. A kiss between Josh Brolin and Javier Bardem was censored out of last year’s Oscars telecast. Twice in 2011, Facebook administrators censored pictures of gay men kissing. And that’s just off the top of my head.
So in the interest of turnabout and tit-for-tat and trying to get straight people to understand what that kind of nonsense looks like from the other side, here is the first of an open-ended series of censored straight kisses. Don’t worry, this is the only one that will be long-winded.
In honor of our two military couples, I thought we should begin with Alfred Eisenstaedt’s iconic V-J Day kiss in Time Square, censored for your protection.
Family Research Council and American Family Association have both been considered hate groups by the Southern Poverty Law Center for some time now, and with good reason; both groups push their shared agenda with dangerous propaganda and outright lies about LGBT people.
To repeat: Rick Perry, Michele Bachmann, Ron Paul, Mitt Romney, Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich, and Rick Santorum all accepted the invitation of these hate groups (as they have for years), hoping to get their endorsements and the votes of like-minded individuals.
Do you really need more information before you cast your vote in the 2012 presidential election? What stance on which issue could possibly make it okay to vote for a candidate who has actively courted bigotry?
Their jaws will hit the floor when they hear how Navy Lt. Tracy Thorne-Begland was paraded before a jeering crowd in May 1993 and all but called a faggot by US Senators. He would be discharged twice for being gay, once before DADT and once after the law went into effect.
They will shake their heads as Army Sergeant Bleu Copas tells how his superiors broke DADT law multiple times, both in asking him directly if he was gay and in breaking into his personal email account to gather evidence, but in the end, his being quietly gay was more destructive than breaking the law, and he was fired.
They will be stunned into silence as Air Force Lt. Col. Victor Fehrenbach tells how he was outed by falsely accused of rape and had to decide whether to defend himself against those false claims or continue his military career. Ultimately he chose to defend himself, and after his exoneration had to fight in court not to be fired, finally winning his case only because a court ordered it due to the law being repealed.
Those in the next generation will be even more stunned to find that these firings were treated as reasonable and even honorable by more than half the country for over a decade, and by well-respected Republicans for even longer.
Even as we are overjoyed by the end of DADT, we must keep our eye on several loose ends left by the repeal.
Repeal notwithstanding, it is still legal today to discriminate against a servicemember because s/he is lesbian, gay, or bisexual. We’re allowed to serve, but we are absolutely without protection against discrimination in promotion or assignment. First thing Tuesday morning, President Obama should sign an executive order, which should end such discrimination.
All discharges under Don’t Ask Don’t Tell should be reviewed and upgraded to remove DADT-identifiers. Currently, anyone discharged under DADT faces forced outing any time they apply for a job. Discharges under DADT labeled general, dishonorable, or other than honorable should be reviewed and changed to a more appropriate classification.
Discharged servicemembers like Army National Guard Lt. Dan Choi and Army Cpl. Anthony Woods should have debts related to DADT discharge forgiven and previous payments reimbursed. Choi, for example, is getting letters from debt collectors for $2,500 related to his discharge, and Woods has had to pay the Army $35,000 in tuition because they decided they didn’t want to honor their commitment to him. This is unjust and must be reversed.
These actions should happen swiftly and decisively. Doing so would go a long way toward shoring up support within the LGBT community for President Obama’s reelection campaign.
The era of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell is ending. Here’s to the new era of fairness and equality that we all continue to work toward.
Lt. Dan Choi, fired from the Army National Guard under Don’t Ask Don’t Tell last year, will be in court again today, as the Obama Department of Justice continues its persecution of DADT protestors. Even with less than a month before DADT is officially repealed, Assistant US Attorney Angela George seems oddly determined to see Lt. Choi humiliated and left with jail time and a criminal record.
To call the federal charges levied against Dan Choi disproportionate would be the height of understatement. Instead of dismissing charges or utilizing the common “post and forfeit” procedure as happens in the vast majority of this type of cases, Assistant US Attorney Angela George told the judge that the protestors were too quiet and polite to charge them with disorderly conduct.
Here’s a quick example of how quiet and polite Choi and his fellow protestors were:
Fortunately, the emerging civil rights figure’s resolve seems undeterred as his trial is set to begin this morning. Clearly, he has learned the truth behind the quote from African American Civil Rights hero Bayard Rustin (who was also gay) that says, “When an individual is protesting society’s refusal to acknowledge his dignity as a human being, his very act of protest confers dignity on him.”
If you’re so inclined, please keep Dan Choi in your thoughts and prayers today. I only wish I’d been cuffed to the White House fence last November so I could stand with him today. It ain’t easy standing alone in a courtroom, no matter how many people stand behind you outside.
A 9th Circuit Appeals Court again ruled last Wednesday that the government must immediately stop enforcing Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. Here’s an article with specifics on the ruling, but Rachel Maddow broke it down very well with guest Lt. Col. Victor Fehrenbach last Wednesday night.
I agree with Rachel and Lt. Col. Fehrenbach for the most part. We part ways, however, on advice to closeted soldiers and recruits. To put it simply, it is time for service members of every rank to come out of the closet.
The purpose of self-imposed, situational closeting by LGB service members has changed. It isn’t about finding a way for invisible lesbian and gay service members to serve their country anymore, and it isn’t about sacrificing to that end. No, self-imposed closeting in 2011 is about playing it safe.
Well sorry, you don’t get to do that. Maybe in a generation, or even a half-generation if we play it right, but that just isn’t possible right now. Remaining invisible at this crucial time damages the fight against DADT and the civil rights movement writ large. Frankly, it’s damage we can’t afford to take.
You are a pioneer, part of an elite force that will blaze the trail for those who follow you. Right now, in the middle of it, that sucks. I know.
We have less than a week before hate group Americans For Truth brings their second Truth* Academy to Columbus, Ohio. Now that we have detailed backgrounds for each of the anti-gay industry representatives, I thought it might be helpful to bring their distilled messages together in one post to see how each instructor’s message will work with the others to create an over-arching theme.
To be honest, I was a little surprised at how well they dovetail into each other.
Rena Lindevaldsen says that the United States government shouldn’t have the power to decide whether people have sex unless those people are gay, in which case the government must imprison them.
Greg Quinlan is just glad he isn’t “a flaming faggot” (his term) and says that people have the right not to have gay sex…but they don’t have the right to have gay sex. Because gay people have AIDS.
Peter LaBarbera uses long-disproven rhetoric disguised as research to demonize LGBT people as mentally ill sexual predator “fascists.”
Linda Harvey says that LGBT teachers will molest children, and that gays in the military want to bring the nation down. Also, she says HIV/AIDS and other diseases are part and parcel of gay sex.
Matt Barber agrees with them that gays are sexual predators, but he says we want to molest soldiers. He also calls gays “fascists,” not unlike friend Scott Lively does when he claims that gays are responsible for genocide in Nazi Germany and Rwanda.
David Kupelian wraps it all up by declaring (falsely) that Christians in America are being persecuted and thrown in jail for not liking gay people very much.
This is the message they spread. All of these speakers make their living in the anti-gay industry and will gasp in shocked amazement if you point out their handcrafted environment that promotes hatred and violence against LGBT people.
The Truth* Academy will be held on April 1-2, 2011 in Columbus, Ohio. Protest details at this link. Please join us.
LaBarbera and company are definitely fringe figures. But their message is dangerous, and it must be countered with actual truth.
Matt Barber is director of cultural affairs with Liberty Counsel, an arm of Jerry Falwell‘s Liberty University. His session at the Truth* Academy is called “Sexual Anarchy in the Military: The Implications for Christian Faith and National Security.” If you’ve been paying attention to the anti-gay industry for the last few years, you know who he is. If not, read on and be as sickened as the rest of us.
Sometimes the most effective way to deal with a bully is to simply pop him in the chops. While it may not shut him up entirely, it usually gives him pause before he resumes flapping his toxic jaws. It also has the effect of showing the other kids in the schoolyard that they have nothing to fear. Though the bully struts about projecting the tough-guy image, he’s typically the most insecure pansy on the block.
It’s little wonder they’ve resorted to childish name calling.
I thought it might be interesting to see how Barber stands up to his own description of a bully. Let’s look at some of Barber’s more recent tweets from his personal account (I’ve removed hashtags, but they are otherwise unedited) to see how un-self-aware he is.
Linda Harvey will be giving a presentation on “How the ‘LGBT’ agenda corrupts and endangers our youth, and how it advances through the schools” at this year’s Truth* Academy. In this post, Iâ€™ll take a look at her work among the anti-gays.
I’m tempted to just stop there, what with World Net Daily (WND) being the home of ultra-ultra-right-wing nutjobs, most notably including the birthers. But in the interest of information sharing, I’ll continue, taking her WND activities last.
Linda is the founder of Mission America, which I’m convinced has a staff of exactly one. The organization is pretty much an also-ran in the anti-gay industry, and also advocates against non-conservative Christian churches, non-Christian religions, and feminism.
Her Mission America radio show is broadcast on WRFD-AM, an ultra-conservative christian radio station in Columbus, Ohio. Just to give you a flavor of her show, here’s audio from the show this past Monday (2/21/11) when she interviewed hate-monger Scott Lively, steering well clear of the fresh Ugandan blood on his hands.
So that’s Linda’s one-woman organization and 22-minute radio show. Let’s turn our attention to her column at WND.
In the past few months, Linda has published the following articles:
Find sodomy repulsive? Don’t ask, don’t tell, in which Linda laments the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, citing servicemembers’ loss of “their rights to disgust” and draws the bizarre if predictable conclusion that “the rights to freedom of association, to freedom of religion and the rights to privacy of our troops will be sacrificed on the altar of sodomy.” Linda also references the “lavender military” and “lavender special interests.”
San Fran: Loves sodomy, hates Happy Meals, in which Linda has a problem with a potential San Fransisco law banning Happy Meal toys, not because of any constitutional freedoms issues but because The Homosexuals live in San Fransisco. She also makes the common mistake of correlating high HIV infection rates among gay men in San Fransisco with gay sex (in the butt) rather than risky sex (without correctly using a condom), as well as the fact that LGB kids are completely left in the dark by a “abstinence-only-until-marriage” curriculum. Also, Linda thinks that The Homosexuals shouldn’t be allowed to be around kids because The Homosexuals will molest them.
Goldman Sachs’ real sin, in which Linda takes the Goldman Sachs people to task for :gasp: contributing to GLSEN, which she calls a “child-corruption network” that “promotes sexual deviance to children,” which, of course, isn’t what GLSEN does at all.
There are a few more recent articles, and I could go back beyond just the last few months, but I think you get the point. Linda Harvey probably wouldn’t say any of these things to the press if they were to show up at Truth* Academy this April 1st or 2nd. No, it just wouldn’t do to have the general public hear these things from her mouth.
But next time you hear her name, remember that behind her “we don’t hate anybody, perish the thought” public face is a big fat sack of hurtful, untrue, and destructive hate.
On February 7, Rachel Maddow was the first to report that Lt. Col. Fehrenbach has received new orders that included his retirement on September 30, 2011, with his full rank and 20-year pension intact.
According to an article in today’s South Bend Tribune, Lt. Col. Fehrenbach hasn’t decided what comes next for him, but he is considering writing a book, saying “It’s been quite a roller coaster. I would hope it would be inspirational.” I’m hoping Rachel Maddow has him on soon to talk about this unexpected end.
I’m glad Lt. Col. Fehrenbach will be able to retire like this, but one little part is nagging at me. He will serve his last eight months without a discharge hanging over his head, and that is good. But it’s too bad that he won’t be able to fly again. I hope the Air Force finds a way to make that happen.
One more thing. I’m not usually a big fan of the whole NOH8 campaign airbrushed photos (usually of celebrities), but I’m making a rare exception today. When someone works this hard for their sculpted, glistening, hard body with nipples you just want to suckle, arms so strong they could hold you forever, a cleft chin that calls out…… (sorry) we have a responsibility to help them share it. In the spirit of community and out of the goodness of my heart, I have decided to assist him in this way.
I had a thousand or so words here, but in their place, here is a picture from the ceremony by White House photographer Pete Souza. The woman is veteran Miriam Ben-Shalom, and this is how I felt this morning.
Tomorrow we can get back to fighting amongst ourselves about completing DADT repeal and which fight comes next. Tomorrow we can talk about who gets the credit for this monumental win and who should have (or shouldn’t have) been at the signing. Tomorrow we can fight the hate groups that call for our persecution and the ignorance that helps them fester.
I have opinions on all of those things (shocking, I know!), but for today, I’m content to know that this time bigotry lost and American ideals won.
Three days before Christmas 2010, America delivered a gift to future generations. And for that, I am glad.