Category Archives: DADT

Shocking STR8 Kiss: V-J Day

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.

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If this doesn't melt your heart, you don't have one.

Anti-gay zealot Peter LaBarbera, who a year ago ran the non-attended Truth* Academy in Columbus, reacted predictably, posting each photo with weird censor bars over the adorable couples’ lips. Here’s a link to his post about Gaeta and Snell, and one on Morgan and Wells.

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.

Click for the uncensored version, if you dare!
Click for the uncensored version, if you dare!

Why Values Voter Summit 2011 Should End Presidential Campaign 2012

Last weekend, every Republican Presidential candidate with a chance of winning (plus Rick Santorum) appeared on stage at the Values Voter Summit, a meeting sponsored by two certified hate groups on par with (and one with ties to) the Ku Klux Klan and the Council of Conservative Citizens.

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?

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DADT IS DEAD: Assessing The Damage And Tying Up Loose Ends

It’s over. After 18 long and painful years, the US Military’s Don’t Ask Don’t Tell law is officially repealed.

I couldn’t be happier to know that the next generation will only know by my generation’s horror stories what it was like to hide in order to serve, and I can’t help but imagine their reactions.

They will stare in disbelief as they hear Air Force Sgt. Jené Newsome‘s story of police acting as Peeping Toms in order to out her and have no recourse but to accept a discharge.

A closeted servicemember, photograph by Jeff Sheng
A closeted servicemember, photograph by Jeff Sheng

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.

A closeted servicemember, photograph by Jeff Sheng
A closeted servicemember, photograph by Jeff Sheng

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.

They will learn in any respectable military history or LGBT history course about Air Force Major Margaret Witt, who fought her discharge so vigorously and so successfully that a court actually ruled that her discharge was unconstitutional, leading to a legal standard that was actually named after her.

A closeted servicemember, photograph by Jeff Sheng
A closeted servicemember, photograph by Jeff Sheng

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

Obama’s Persecution Of Dan Choi Continues In Court Today

Photo by Todd Franson for Metro Weekly
Photo by Todd Franson
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.

Fortunately, the civil rights leader is equally determined to respond with honor. Following George’s campaign of intimidation on Choi and the twelve other White House protestors earlier this year, a campaign that even left the judge citing Martin Luther Mother Fucking King Junior, Choi alone refused a plea agreement that forced the other twelve to plead guilty to a “failure to move” charge.

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.

Closeted Soldiers Must Come Out Now

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.

Ask. Tell. NOW.
Ask. Tell. NOW.

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.

It sucked for the first generation of African American soldiers after President Truman integrated the ranks in 1948. It sucked for the first generation of women soldiers after President Ford and Congress opened military academies to women in 1975.

And it will suck for you now as the first generation of LGB soldiers after President Obama and Congress allowed LGBs to serve openly in 2010.

I wish I could pin a medal on your jacket for that, I truly do, but knowing that you helped defeat bigotry in our time will have to do.

Truth* Academy: Putting It All Together

truth-academy

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.

  • Robert Gagnon reduces being gay to “you’re doing sex wrong.”
  • 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.

truth-academy

Truth* Academy Instructor Series: Matt Barber

truth-academy

On April 1-2, 2011, Mission America and Americans For Truth About Homosexuality (AFTAH) will be cosponsoring the second Truth* Academy in Columbus, Ohio. I thought it might be helpful to see what tone and substance attendees can expect from each of the instructors before the conference begins. You can find all of my Truth* Academy posts at this link.

Matt Barber is totally not gay, you guys.
Matt Barber of Liberty Counsel
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.

Barber writes for several far-right websites, most notably World Net Daily, the birther site that also publishes articles by Truth* Academy instructor Linda Harvey. Here’s a snip from one of his articles published last December:

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.

(By the way, Alvin McEwen of Holy Bullies and Headless Monsters deals with this full article in this post.)

!!!WARNING: OFFENSIVE LANGUAGE AHEAD!!!

That’s just a sampling from six weeks of tweets, and I didn’t include any of his Birther or anti-Muslim nonsense, either.

Then there’s the non-Twitter stuff. I’ll only give you two, but there are plenty more where these came from.

In an article published December 15, 2009, Barber defined homosexuality as: “One man violently cramming his penis into another man’s lower intestine and calling it ‘love.'”

And before that, in 2009 Barber told a room full of anti-gays to focus on the “ick” factor (he took his own advice above), and said that “Christ wasn’t about being nice.”

You can imagine the sort of rhetoric Matt Barber will bring to the supposedly Christian-principled Truth* Academy.

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Truth* Academy Instructor Series: Linda Harvey

truth-academy

On April 1-2, 2011, Mission America and Americans For Truth About Homosexuality (AFTAH) will be cosponsoring the second Truth* Academy in Columbus, Ohio. I thought it might be helpful to see what tone and substance attendees can expect from each of the instructors before the conference begins. You can find all of my Truth* Academy posts at this link.

Linda Harvey of Mission America
Linda Harvey of Mission America
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, I’ll take a look at her work among the anti-gays.

First of all, Linda is a columnist for World Net Daily.

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.

[wpaudio url=”http://blog.mattalgren.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/02/linda-harvey-interviews-scott-lively-2-21-11.mp3″ text=”Linda Harvey Interviews Scott Lively”]

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.
  • Is ‘gay’ agenda to blame for teen suicides?, in which Linda despicably mis-attributes last fall’s alarming rise in reported suicides by LGBT teens to The Homosexuals encouraging kids not to hate themselves. In so doing, she quite conveniently absolves herself and other anti-gay propagandists of any guilt.

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.

truth-academy

Lt. Col. Victor Fehrenbach to Retire With Full Rank and Pension

Over a year ago, I wrote a post called Too Late to Save Careers of Choi and Fehrenbach? based on some new clues on whether Don’t Ask Don’t Tell repeal would actually happen. Today, we have the answer for both of these heroes.

For Lt. Dan Choi, DADT repeal came too late. Dan was fired from the Army Reserves in June 2010.

But it’s a new year, and now that the DADT repeal bill has been signed by President Obama, many wondered what would happen to Lt. Col. Victor Fehrenbach.

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.

His chest tattoo is "Правда", "TRUTH" in Russian; "JUSTICE" in Serbian
His chest tattoo is "Правда"
"TRUTH" in Russian; "JUSTICE" in Serbian

YOU’RE WELCOME, VIC. (Call me!)

Official Video: Obama Signs DADT Repeal And A Few Words Of My Own

December 22, 2010 is a good day.

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.

DADT signing face in the crowd

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.