(USA) - It was 15 years ago, Tuesday, that President Clinton rolled out the policy that came to be known as "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," which relaxed the long-standing bar against Gay men and women serving in the U.S. military. While the move was initially hailed as progress for the rights of Gays in the military, today many see it as a liability. Her Navy career had been "relatively stress-free" before "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" took effect, says Joan Darrah, a retired captain, and a Lesbian, who served in various intelligence billets from 1972 to 2002. She kept her sexual orientation secret during her career, but that denial took its toll after "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" led to increased focus on homosexuality in the ranks.
Note: Read more on Time
(USA) - US Army Sgt. Darren Manzella a medic who served in Iraq and Kuwait, has acknowledged in interviews and again on Tuesday in a Washington news conference that he is Gay. Aubrey Sarvis, executive director of Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, said Manzella's case demonstrates the military is arbitrarily enforcing its "don't ask, don't tell" policy now that the country is at war. The "don't ask, don't tell" policy prohibits active-duty service members from openly acknowledging whether they are Gay or Lesbian. A bill to eliminate the military's sexual orientation policy, filed by Rep. Ellen Tauscher, D-Calif., is pending in Congress. Sarvis said the bill is unlikely to get out of committee during this election year, but hearings could be held.
Note: Read more on AP
(USA) - Rose Rollins is defensive about her Tasha. "Attitude? There's a lot more to Tasha than her `attitude,'" Rollins says of the smoldering, secretive soldier she plays on "The L Word." Tasha's troubles started last season, when Rollins joined the show's cast of romantically tangled characters. Tasha quickly fell for out-and-proud Alice Pieszecki (Leisha Hailey), who runs a Lesbian Web site, after accidentally injuring Alice in a brawl. As the relationship deepened, Tasha was cautioned by her commanding officer for openly engaging in 'homosexual conduct.' Meanwhile, Alice and Tasha argued bitterly about the war. On the season premiere, Tasha begins the process of being discharged from the military.
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(USA) - One of Bill Clinton's first acts as president was to propose that Gay servicemen and women be allowed to serve openly. That was 15 years ago, and it almost derailed his presidency. Instead, the US military adopted a policy called "don't ask, don't tell," where Gays can serve as long as they remain in the closet. The Pentagon says it's been a success. But 12,000 military men and women have been discharged under the policy. Now something curious is happening. As correspondent Lesley Stahl reports, discharges of Gay soldiers are dropping, dramatically: from over 1,200 a year in 2001 to barely 600. With the military struggling to fight two wars, there are growing calls to repeal the policy and growing evidence that some commanders could care less about sexual orientation.
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(USA) - Former marines Captain Antonio Agnone and Staff Sergeant Eric Alva, both gay men, shared their experiences on Tuesday about serving in Iraq under the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy. The military's controversial "don't ask, don't tell" policy "prohibits anyone who demonstrates a propensity or intent to engage in homosexual acts from serving in the armed forces." According to Agnone, more than 12,000 service members have been discharged from the military since 1993 as a direct result of the "don't ask, don't tell" policy. "'Don't ask, don't tell' is very ambiguous," said Agnone. "The only benefit of 'don't ask, don't tell' is that you are given an honorable discharge when you come out."
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(UK) - The British Royal Navy suffered a spate of protest resignations by lower-ranking officers after the ban on Gays in the military was lifted, a restricted document obtained by The Times shows. Some soldiers were so reluctant to undress or be exposed in front of Gay comrades that they suggested the provision of homosexual-only showers and lavatories, and straight couples expressed worries that same-sex partners would be allowed to move into family quarters and "influence their children."
Note: Read more on Times online
(USA) - Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, caused a stir at a Senate hearing Wednesday when he said he believes "homosexual activity is immoral and should not be condoned by the military." Anti-war protesters sitting behind Pace jeered the four-star general's remarks, prompting Committee Chairman Sen. Robert Byrd, D-W.Va., to abruptly adjourn the hearing and seal off the doors.
Note: Read more on SF Gate
(USA) - The Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN) determined Aubrey Sarvis to be the new Executive Director of the organization. Sarvis succeeds C. Dixon Osburn, who stepped down in April. Sarvis will officially take on his position on October 1, 2007. Founded in 1993, SLDN is a US organization dedicated to eradication discrimination against and harassment of military personnel targeted by "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" and similar forms of intolerance. Sarvis was choosen following an extensive US-wide search by SLDN’s Board of Directors. In accepting the appointment, Sarvis said, “I am humbled and honored to stand side by side with America’s Gay service members, and to help them achieve the full measure of dignity and equality they deserve.” Read more...
(Nepal) - Nepal’s army has stirred up a new controversy by sacking two women because they were flat-chested and accused of being lesbians. The two women, who do not want to be named, have told human rights groups that they were unfairly accused of being lesbians and sacked after being kept in solitary confinement in windowless cells for more than a month. Human rights activists say the dismissals show up the army’s continued disregard of human rights, intolerance towards the sexual minorities and widespread irregularities. Read more...
(Washington, USA) - Admiral Michael Mullen, President Bush’s nominee to succeed General Peter Pace as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was questioned about the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” ban on lesbian, gay and bisexual personnel during a Senate hearing Tuesday. Republican Senator Susan Collins of Maine queried Mullen on the continued dismissal of gay troops under the ban. While confirming that he would implement the current law, Mullen also told Collins that “I really think it is for the American people to come forward, really through this body, to both debate that policy and make changes, if that's appropriate.” Read more...
(UK) - The Ministry of Defence has apologised to all servicemen and servicewomen who suffered persecution and discrimination before the ban on homosexuality was lifted seven years ago. Until 2000, men and women of the Armed Forces were dismissed if it was discovered that they were gay or lesbian. A senior officer responsible for equality training at the MoD has issued an open apology. Wing Commander Phil Sagar, who runs the Armed Forces joint equality and diversity training centre and who advises on government policy, said: “Of course we’re sorry for anyone who has suffered personal trauma.” In the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s, according to MoD archive documents, the Armed Forces special investigation police targeted suspected gays and lesbians in an official policy to “clean out homosexuals”.
Note: Read full article on Times Online
(USA) - A graduate of the Naval Academy and a nuclear submarine captain, Steve Clark Hall spent his 20-year career fearing he would be found out as gay. Now he is retired and living in San Francisco, and Clark Hall's story is part of an exhibit opening Friday that traces the history of gays and lesbians in the US military -- from World War II to the war in Iraq. Steve Estes, an associate professor of history at Sonoma State University and curator of the exhibition, said he was struck by the power of the veterans' expressions of pride in having served their country despite a ban they found demoralizing. "For the most part, these people were hyper-patriots, even though they had to hide who they were in terms of their sexuality," said Estes.
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(USA) - A sailor who publicly outed himself as a homosexual has once again been discharged by the Navy, but has once again been given a recall status that could allow him to return to active duty. Petty Officer 2nd Class Jason Knight had served as an openly gay man during a yearlong Individual Ready Reserve tour in Kuwait. However, in the latest twist, Knight’s new discharge papers - like his previous discharge papers - do not mention homosexual conduct as the reason for his dismissal. Instead, they cite “completion of required active service.” And they list his recall code as RE-1, with a reserve obligation ending in April 2009. “I can’t do anything but laugh,” Knight said Wednesday in a telephone interview. “It’s getting to the point of being ridiculous.”
Note: Read full article on www.estripes.com
(Washington, USA) - The entire field of eight Democratic presidential candidates indicated their support for repealing the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” ban on lesbian, gay and bisexual personnel during a televised debate on Sunday. The candidates, appearing on CNN, all expressed support for allowing lesbians and gays to serve openly in the armed forces. Read more...
(USA) - The California Senate on Thursday passed a resolution asking the federal government to abandon its discriminatory military policy against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Americans. SJR 6 calls for the end of Don't Ask, Don't Tell," which prevents LGBT people from serving openly in the military. Senators approved the resolution with a 23-12 vote. Read more...
(Washington, USA) - Legislators who say the military has kicked out 58 Arabic language experts because they were gay want the Pentagon to explain how it can afford to let the valuable specialists go. Seizing on the latest discharge, involving three specialists, House members wrote the House Armed Services Committee chairman on Wednesday that the continued loss of such "capable, highly skilled Arabic linguists continues to compromise our national security during time of war."
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(UK) - Since the British military began allowing homosexuals to serve in the armed forces in 2000, none of its fears - about harassment, discord, blackmail, bullying or an erosion of unit cohesion or military effectiveness - have come to pass, according to the Ministry of Defense, current and former members of the services and academics specializing in the military. The biggest news about the policy, they say, is that there is no news. It has for the most part become a nonissue.
Note: Read full article on Spiegel
(USA) - Former President Jimmy Carter, recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize in 2002, issued a statement May 15 saying that "Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell" should be reconsidered. Carter called for the review in an exclusive statement to the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network. In his statement, the former commander-in-chief of America’s armed forces says, "The nation’s commitment to human rights requires that lawmakers revisit ’Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,’ the current policy that prevents lesbians, gays and bisexuals from serving openly in our armed forces."
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(Washington, USA) - The United States Navy has informed Petty Officer Second Class Jason Knight that it intends to fire him under the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law just weeks prior to completing his one-year commitment. Knight, an openly gay sailor, was recalled to active duty in June 2006 and recently completed a tour of duty in Kuwait, where he was open about his sexual orientation with his command and fellow sailors. He told his story last weekend in the newspaper Stars & Stripes and he was notified yesterday that he will be receiving an honourable discharge from the Navy based, in part, on his recent media interviews. Read more...
(USA) - It was one of life's pinch-me-is-this-really-happening moments: Dixon Osburn, co-founder of the nation's leading group to lift the ban on openly gay troops, was still at the office at 7 o'clock one evening and noticed a fax coming through. It read simply: "I am an admiral. I am gay. How can I help?"
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