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Minnesota Governor Vetos End-of-Life Bill

May 17th, 2010 11:54 AM By

The following is an excerpt from a story on TwinCities.com:

“Gov. Tim Pawlenty vetoed a bill Saturday that would have given same-sex partners the right to decide what to do with the body of their loved ones, should they die.

“Pawlenty had said he would veto the bill, calling it unnecessary because partners can draw up a living will. But advocates argue that married couples do not have to do that and that legal documents often cost money to draft.”

Read the full story on TwinCities.com >>

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Episcopal Church Ordains First Lesbian Bishop

May 17th, 2010 11:31 AM By

The following is an excerpt from a story on CNN.com:

“The Episcopal Church consecrated its first openly lesbian bishop Saturday in the face of objections from some conservative Anglicans.

“The Rev. Mary Glasspool, 56, is a new bishop surrounded by controversy.

“Conservative factions in the Anglican Communion, a 77 million-member denomination worldwide that includes the Episcopal Church, have opposed the ordination of gay bishops.

“Glasspool is the first openly gay bishop in the Episcopal Church since Gene Robinson took office in New Hampshire in 2004. Episcopalians instituted a temporary ban on gay bishops after Robinson’s ordination but revoked that ban last summer.

“The daughter of a priest, Glasspool was one of two openly gay candidates on the slate in the Los Angeles diocese. She has said that her sexual orientation is ‘not an issue.’

“Bishop Jon Bruno of Los Angeles called Glasspool, an ordained priest for 28 years, a ‘highly qualified and experienced’ cleric.

“‘She’s not afraid of conflict and is a reconciler,’ Bruno said, according to the Episcopal Church website.

“He added that Glasspool and her partner of 19 years, Becki Sander, are an example of living service and ministry.”

Read the full story on CNN.com >>

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“Stories from the Frontlines” – Former Army Sargent

May 17th, 2010 11:17 AM By

SLDN Letters Banner

May 17, 2010

President Barack H. Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue Northwest
Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President,

I am a proud Army veteran of the first Gulf War. You won’t find anyone who loves this country more. I get chills and teary eyes, every time I hear the Pledge of Allegiance or The Star Spangled Banner. I’ve been known to call a business when I see them flying a tattered flag to let them know that if that’s all the pride they have in the American flag, they should just take it down. I am also a proud lesbian.

I joined the military in 1989, before “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT) was enacted and when there was an outright ban on gays and lesbians in the military. I did not realize at the time that I was a lesbian, but later, when I did come to terms with my being gay, I never tried to hide it, but I did not flaunt it either.

My sexual orientation was a non-issue. I was a hard charging soldier, promoted long before my peers. I am sure there was talk behind my back about me being a lesbian, but no one ever seemed to care. I was a good friend, soldier, and leader; everyone I encountered could have cared less about what happened in my private life. After DADT was passed, I started to hear stories about people being discharged. I struggled with this every day, always fearful that I would be next.

Eventually, the stress of constant fear that I could lose my job no matter how hard I worked or how well I performed, became too much. I knew from the stories of others that even serving to the very best of my ability could cost me my job. I knew that an anonymous tip—by someone who was jealous of my success, angry with me because of a disagreement, or mad because I rebuffed a sexual advance—could trigger a demoralizing, demeaning investigation under DADT. And if I was not willing to lie, I knew an investigation could lead to my discharge.

I was lucky, though. I did not get kicked out, but that does not mean that DADT didn’t affect me. The uncertainty and fear of knowing that anyone with a grudge could end my career, and the sadness in realizing that at any time my country could callously discard me for no other reason than the fact that I was gay, pressured me to give up the career I loved. I chose not to reenlist.

There are days when it is hard for me not to walk into the nearest recruiting station and sign back up. I watch what is happening in Iraq and Afghanistan and it’s hard for me to think about not being there with the men and women I served with in the first Gulf War. I have to remind myself why I chose not to reenlist.

Defending our country in uniform is one of the greatest privileges and responsibilities of being an American. Many people do not appreciate that; many take our freedoms for granted; and many do not choose to serve. We cannot afford to lose those who want to serve, who have the necessary skills and work ethic, and who would risk their lives for their comrades and their country.

Mr. President, in your State of the Union Address, you said that the American people are not quitters. I did not quit on my country during the first Gulf War and I would serve again if called. There are at least 66,000 gays and lesbians serving right now who do not want to quit, either. Mr. President, please don’t quit on them. Please do everything in your power to end DADT this year. We are counting on you.

Respectfully,

Former Sgt. Shonda Garrison
United States Army

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Married Lesbian Couple Sues Over Child’s Birth Certificate

May 14th, 2010 04:07 PM By

The following is a story by Radio Iowa:

“A married same-sex couple is suing the Iowa Department of Public Health for refusing to list both parents on their child’s birth certificate. Heather and Melissa Gartner were married after the Iowa Supreme Court struck down the state’s ban on same sex unions.

“When their daughter was born, they assumed they would both be listed on the birth certificate. But state officials said they would not list the non-birth mother until she adopts the child. An attorney with Lambda Legal, Camilla Taylor, says the state would not make the same request of a heterosexual couple who uses a sperm donor.

“’Many married different sex couples use anonymous donor insemination to conceive or in some cases, a woman may have an affair and in every case when a married different sex couple requests a birth certificate for their child – that birth certificate is issued automatically naming the husband as a parent,’ Taylor said.

“According to Taylor, requiring the non-birth mother to adopt is expensive, intrusive, and insulting. She’s hoping the matter is resolved before going to court. ‘Iowa is the only state of all of those states who permit same sex couples to marry or to enter into civil unions that has refused to place the name of both spouses in a same sex couple on a child’s birth certificate,’ Taylor said. ‘I expect this is just a mistake and I expect we’ll clear it up shortly but Iowa is certainly standing alone here.’”

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“Stories from the Frontlines” – A Soldier Returning to Baghdad

May 14th, 2010 03:20 PM By


SLDN Letters Banner

May 14, 2010

President Barack H. Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue Northwest
Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President,

I am writing to you from a kitchen in the state of Washington. The love of my life is in the other room. It has been eight months since I saw him last and I cherish every moment we spend together. Next week, my mid-tour leave will be over and I will return to Iraq and finish my second deployment. I don’t know when I’ll see my partner again.

When serving in a war zone, you learn quite a bit about yourself and what’s important to you. I’ve had the chance to work on a close and personal level with the people of Iraq, and in doing so, I have realized more than ever that the freedoms we enjoy as Americans should not be taken for granted – we must protect them at all costs. These freedoms are essential to the very foundation of our society. Yet so many men and women who fight for these freedoms aren’t allotted their own. Our freedom to love and be loved by whomever we choose. The freedom to live of a life of truth and dignity.

Recently I was informed that the military was investigating me for violating the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law. Another service member had apparently “outed” me. At first I felt free: I didn’t have to lie anymore. But after that initial sense of relief, I’m left knowing just how little the Pentagon and the United States government think of me.

Mr. President, my unit is extremely undermanned. We’re working around the clock in Baghdad. My commander informed me that the Army cannot afford to lose me. I was told that they would prepare my discharge paperwork, “stick it in a Manila envelope, and keep it in a desk — for now.”

One moment they wanted to throw me out and the next they are hiding evidence to keep me in.

My comrades now know that I am gay, and they do not treat me any differently. Work runs as smoothly as ever, and frankly the only difference I see — besides my pending job loss — is that I am free of the burden of having to constantly watch my words and ensure my lies are believable.

Having this out in the open makes things a bit less stressful. But it’s also clear the Army is only keeping me around until they are done with me. After I have served my two deployments — and only a year shy of separating from the military honorably — I suspect they will kick me to the street.

It’s bad enough that there is a law that denies tens of thousands of service members from serving with integrity, but it’s even worse when such a law is carried out with such inconsistency, without any warning of when it might come down.

If my suspicions are true, my discharge will move forward after my deployment. I am good enough to serve in war, but not at peace? I will never be at peace until this law is repealed – and neither will my partner. In fact, he won’t even be informed if I am killed in action. That might be the hardest part for us both.

Mr. President, when you took office I remember watching your inauguration knowing that history was being made. I remember feeling like this weight was being lifted off of my shoulders. I truly believed in you, and I still do.

But, Mr. President, please keep your promise to me.

Please do everything in your power to help Congress repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” this year. Our government called upon us to fight for our country. So many of us answered the call; we did not delay. We were sent world’s away to defend your freedoms. Mr. President, won’t you fight for mine?

With deep respect,

A soldier returning to Baghdad
(The writer is currently serving and unable to identify himself publicly.)

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“Stories from the Frontlines” – Former Air Force Staff Sargent

May 13th, 2010 12:28 PM By


SLDN Letters Banner

May 12, 2010

President Barack H. Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue Northwest
Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President,

It has been almost eight years since I was discharged under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” Every day another American patriot who volunteered to serve our country is discharged under this unjust law. Now is the time for you to show the leadership expected from our Commander-in-Chief and work with Congress to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” this year. How many more careers will be ruined before we see repeal?

I was fortunate to grow up as an Air Force brat. My dad and stepdad both retired from the Air Force after serving 20 years. It only made sense that I would eventually follow their footsteps and serve as well. I didn’t realize I was gay when I joined the Air Force in March 1996 and never gave any thought to “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

There was nothing I enjoyed more than wearing the uniform and was very proud to be serving my country. I did everything right to ensure I had a successful career in the Air Force. I loaded missiles on F-15’s at Langley AFB where I received Airman of the Quarter, Load Crew of the Quarter, and was even handpicked for a no-notice deployment to Kuwait when I was deployed to Saudi Arabia for Operation Southern Watch. At Elmendorf AFB, I was selected to work at the Weapons Standardization Section where I trained and evaluated load crews on loading bombs and missiles on F-15E aircraft. I was promoted to SSgt on my first try and graduated as a distinguished graduate from Airman Leadership School.

After reenlisting for another four years I decided to apply for Air Force ROTC and was selected under the Professional Officer Course – Early Release Program. I was discharged from active duty in August 2001 and signed my ROTC contract the next day. One of the proudest moments of my life was when I received my pilot slot. I was so excited; not only was I going to be an officer in the Air Force but I also had the chance to be a pilot. All my hard work was paying off.

But everything changed a few months later. A cadet went to my commanders and told them I was gay and dating a fellow cadet. During the investigation that followed I made no comment to the JAG officer conducting the investigation. I was eventually called into my commander’s office and disenrolled from ROTC in August 2002. I received a piece of paper saying I was no longer fit for military duty due to “homosexual conduct.” You can’t even imagine how that feels. Almost 8 years later, I still remember wearing my flight suit for the last time and handing my ID card to the NCO who was trying not to cry.

Mr. President – I assure you I am fit for military duty and so are the 66,000 lesbian and gay service members currently serving. Please keep your promise and stop discharging patriotic Americans. I did my part; now, sir, please do yours!

Respectfully,

Former SSgt. David Hall
United States Air Force

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Catholic School Withdraws Acceptance of Lesbians’ Son

May 12th, 2010 05:35 PM By

Thanks to our friends over at GLSEN for letting us know about this story about a young boy being discriminated against because his mom’s are gay.

The following is an excerpt from a story by The Associated Press:

“A Roman Catholic school in Massachusetts has withdrawn its acceptance of an 8-year-old boy with lesbian parents, saying their relationship was ‘in discord’ with church teachings, according to one of the boys’ mothers.

“It’s at least the second time in recent months that students have not been allowed to attend a U.S. Catholic school because of their parents’ sexual orientation, with the other instance occurring in Colorado.

“The Massachusetts woman, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of concerns about the effect of publicity on her son, said she planned to send the boy to third grade at St. Paul Elementary School in Hingham in the fall. But she said she learned her son’s acceptance was rescinded during a conference call Monday with Principal Cynthia Duggan and the parish priest, the Rev. James Rafferty.

“‘I’m accustomed to discrimination, I suppose, at my age and my experience as a gay woman,’ the mother said. ‘But I didn’t expect it against my child.’

“Rafferty said her relationship ‘was in discord with the teachings of the Catholic Church,’ which holds marriage is only between a man and woman, the woman said.

“She said Duggan told her teachers wouldn’t be prepared to answer questions her son might have because the school’s teachings about marriage conflict with what he sees in his family.

“Rafferty and Duggan did not respond to requests for comment.

“Terrence Donilon, a spokesman for the Boston Archdiocese, said it learned about the school’s decision late Tuesday. He said the archdiocese is now in “consultation with the pastor and principal to gather more information.”

“Massachusetts was the first state to legalize gay marriage, in 2004, and the Catholic Church strongly opposed the decision. The woman, who is not married to her partner, said she didn’t expect the church to approve of her relationship but didn’t think it should affect her son’s education.

“The case mirrors a situation in Boulder, Colo., in which the Sacred Heart of Jesus school said two children of lesbian parents could not re-enroll because of their parents’ sexual orientation. The Denver Archdiocese posted a statement in support of the school’s decision.”

Read the full Associated Press story >>

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Leon County, FL Gives a Damn

May 12th, 2010 03:26 PM By

The following is an excerpt from a on Tallahassee.com:

“In a 5-2 vote, the Leon County Commission approved…controversial changes to the county’s current human-rights ordinance. The changes are designed to deter discrimination and include more protection for members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered community.

“Commissioners Jane Sauls and Bryan Desloge voted against the measure.

“The proposed changes offer stronger protections from discrimination in four areas: general provisions, employment discrimination, equal access to places of public accommodations and fair housing.

“The issue created distinct division in the community. Commissioners have received hundreds of e-mails and calls in the past month from residents, business owners and members of faith-based groups.”

Read the full Tallahassee.com story >>

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Laura Bush Supports Marriage for Gay Couples

May 12th, 2010 12:11 PM By

Former First Lady Laura Bush expresses her support for gay couples to have the freedom to marry on Larry King Live:

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“Stories from the Frontlines” – Navy Chief Hospital Corpsman

May 12th, 2010 12:10 PM By


SLDN Letters Banner

May 12, 2010

President Barack H. Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue Northwest
Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President,

A “sexual predator” — that’s what someone in the military called me after 22 years of faithful service.

It was September, 2005.  I remember the moment I received notice from the Navy Criminal Investigation Service (NCIS) that I was under investigation and I couldn’t figure out why.

Not long before that day, I was conducting medical exams on two sailors who were being open about their sexual orientation.  The rules were clear.  If a service member comes “out” to a medical professional or even a chaplain, we were required to report it.

Instead of alerting their command, I made the choice to caution them about the risks of being too open.  As a bisexual man myself, I knew the fear they experienced under the law of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

I knew the “ins and outs” of serving silently – even while deployed to Afghanistan.  The law, frankly, is a scary thing.  The fear of being “outed” – of losing your job – can sometimes be too much to handle.

My good faith efforts in counseling these two young men on their sexual orientation resulted in accusations of molestation.  In the course of the investigation, under intense pressure from an NCIS agent and a desire to be truthful, I admitted to being bisexual.

Fortunately, it didn’t take long for NCIS to conclude its investigation and find the accusations by the two men to be without merit.  The authorities governing medical ethics at the hospital also launched an independent investigation and concluded the charges were unfounded.  And finally, an Article 32 hearing exonerated me of any wrong doing.

Everyone thought the case was closed.  I thought the case was closed.  But it wasn’t.

The Staff Judge Advocate (SJA) on base, acting without authority, continued her own investigation and convinced the ranking Admiral that regulations mandated that he move to administratively separate me with an “Other Than Honorable” discharge; a move that would result in the loss of my 20+ year retirement.

Acting without the proper authority, she even went over the Admiral’s head and appealed to the Navy’s personnel office, telling them I was taking “sexual liberties” with patients, which she knew was not true.

I wanted to serve my country.  Now, I was fighting to not be humiliated by it.  At the SJA’s encouragement, the command initiated discharge proceedings.  I knew I’d be discharged but my retirement and my livelihood was also on the line.

In the middle of opening statements at my discharge hearing, a fellow service member who also sat on the Administrative Separation Board, lashed out and called me a “sexual predator.”  While she was removed from the board, the damage was done.

After a strong push by my faithful defense team, the board ruled that I could keep my retirement benefits and be discharged honorably.

I served for 22 years and wanted only to fulfill the remainder of my time.  A promise I made to my country.

The criminal investigation by NCIS took all but six months.  But one person — a JAG officer — spent the next eighteen months and countless man hours attempting to have me discharged with a reduction in rank and no retirement, all because I was gay.

Sir, those two years were frankly, mental hell, all because one person felt I shouldn’t be in the Navy, a service I loved and still love today.

Mr. President, the men and women in the armed forces need your leadership now.  Repeal this law, this year.  Help stop the pain of so many people who are currently facing discharge hearings.  Help them keep their honor.  Help them keep their integrity.

With great respect,

Brian K. Humbles
Chief Hospital Corpsman
Surface Warfare/ Fleet Marine Forces
United States Navy (RET)

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