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CMR Sitrep
Tuesday, May 5, 2009
CMR Blogs on NY Times; Gays Cry Foul on Obama Website "Change"

CMR President Elaine Donnelly contributed to the New York Times' "Room for Debate" blog/op-ed section yesterday on the topic of gays in the military. Her submission appeared along with those of eight others here:

"Room for Debate - In the 'Barracks, Out of the Closet'"

Aaron Belkin, director of the gay-activist Michael D. Palm Center at the University of California, Santa Barbara (formerly the Center for the Study of Sexual Minorities in the Military) joined with Aubrey Sarvis, Executive Director of the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, a nonprofit policy and legal organization whose primary objective is to repeal the law making homosexuals ineligible for military service. Belkin and Sarvis wrote only about "how" to repeal the law, not the consequences of that action-something they rarely talk about.

Betraying a typically elitist attitude, Belkin referred to the political system-i.e., Congress voting to make policy-as a "mess" that President Obama should "circumvent" by "commanding the military to suspend discharges for homosexuality." Advocates writing about other countries actually confirmed that the forced acceptance of open homosexuality in the ranks in Britain has resulted in consistent cultural change across the board, to include other sexual minorities. (Writer Craig Jones, a former officer in the British Royal Navy, failed to mention that Britain capitulated to an order of the European Court of Human Rights in 1999, a course of action likely to be rejected by the United States.)

* * * * *

Though it did not link to the Flag & General Officers for the Military (FGOM) website, the "Room for Debate" blog highlighted the May 1, 2009, New York Times article by Elisabeth Bumiller (linked below). The article was not as gung-ho pro-gays-in-the-military as most articles in the New York Times usually are. The FGOM Open Letter was mentioned, but without specifics about rank:

In Military, New Debate Over Policy Toward Gays

It is surprising that the article by Elisabeth Bumiller actually acknowledged some hesitation among the West Point cadets, even though they have heard only one side of the story. Last December Elaine Donnelly corresponded with Col. Thomas A. Kolditz , head of West Point's Department of Behavioral Sciences and Leadership who is quoted in the article. Col. Kolditz confirmed that the USMA has not hosted a speaker who supports the 1993 law with a commitment comparable to that of Aaron Belkin of the Palm Center, who has been a guest speaker at West Point several times.

Col. Kolditz also confirmed that on November 4, 2008, he hosted a former male-cadet-now-female activist for transgenders in the military, who addressed several classes. Question still unanswered: Why do West Point leaders expect that future officers will have to accommodate transgendered servicemen and women in the American military?

* * * * * * *

Columnist Don Feder, writing on the "Boycott the New York Times" website, took issue with the Times' bias:

Times is GHQ for Repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell

2. The White House

Some of the gay websites have been buzzing with anger about subtle changes on the White House website. They are upset because of what one gay blogger described as a "move that many people...see as a shift in policy, and a backward step from a clear campaign promise that was reiterated during the first days of January of this year."

The White House website has changed the language on its page regarding LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered) Civil Rights. Gay activists see the changes as a retreat from Obama's commitment to repeal the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" (DADT) policy, and a significant change in policy, for the worse.

In particular, activists complained that the website language changed from a commitment to a "full repeal" of DADT to a commitment to "change" the discriminatory policy in a "sensible" manner. In their view, "changing DADT" is not the same as repealing DADT because it would essentially keep the "discriminatory" policy in place, albeit with some alterations.

An interesting comment appeared on the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network's "Frontlines" blog, written by James E. Pietrangelo, II. (This may be the same plaintiff who, in December, asked the Supreme Court to review a First Circuit Court of Appeals decision upholding the constitutionality of the 1993 law):

"You folks at SLDN do a lot of good work, but I do not for the life of me understand why you refuse to see the writing on the wall (webpage). The change in wording is yet more evidence (as if there were not enough already) that Obama has stuck the knife in his promise on DADT. Instead of wasting time trying to divine the meaning of the website and calling the White House only to get a form response, why doesn't Aubrey Sarvis and Joe Solomenese and the other Gay 'leaders' get together and call Obama the bigot that he is. It is time to start marching, people. Time indeed."

Since the kerfuffle broke out in LGBT-land, the White House website restored the word "repeal" before the catch-phrase "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." It will take more than website words, however, to convince members of Congress that they need to repeal the 1993 law.

3. Congress

As CMR reported last week, congressional LGBT Equality Caucus co-chairs Rep. Barney Frank and Rep. Tammy Baldwin expressed in the Capitol Hill newspaper Roll Call their assessment that 2009 is not the year to pursue repeal of the law making homosexuals ineligible for military service.

Elaine Donnelly explained to OneNewsNow that Frank's comments reflect a concession to process, but not intent. Representatives Frank and Baldwin plan to lay the groundwork for repeal in 2010. Donnelly's comments appear here:

Intent Still There to Repeal Military Homosexual Ban
posted by CMR Editor @ 5/05/2009 02:15:00 PM

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