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10 March 2012

Praise: Outserve

I served in the United States Navy before Don't Ask, Don't Tell (DADT).  Despite that horrible law not existing yet, one did not ask or tell because to be known as gay in the military was to receive either a dishonorable or a medical discharge.  There was nothing like OutServe.
OutServe is the association of actively-serving LGBT military personnel that launched on July 26, 2010. With more than 4,500 members and 45+ chapters worldwide, it is the one of the largest LGBT employee resource groups in the world. OutServe works to support a professional network of LGBT military personnel and create an environment of respect in the military with regard to sexual orientation and gender identity.
It should be no surprise that the hate groups are upset that LGBT soldiers and sailors are now allowed to serve and they are upset that a support network like OutServe exists.  Right Side News offered up such a complaint from the Family Research Council in an article today.
image from Right Side News
For the homosexuals in OutServe, the basic goal is OutCry. Since the overthrow of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," the organization of "actively serving LGBT personnel" has planted 42 chapters on military bases--all with the common goal of tearing down the Defense Department's (and by extension, society's) marriage policies from within. "We're about to become the largest [lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender employee resource group] in the world," the group's co-director told the Washington Times.
To be clear, the goal is equality.  That does not mean tearing down marriage policies, but expanding and thus strengthening marriage policies.  Allowing LGBT military personnel the same rights as heterosexual military personnel, including the sense of security that comes from knowing that your partner is your legal spouse, will enhance our nation's security.
In the last six months, Lt. Josh Seefried says the association's membership has more than doubled, as 4,200 homosexual soldiers, sailors, and airmen join the agenda to radicalize our military with more sexual distractions. So far, their demands include everything from allowing cross-dressers and transsexuals to serve openly to marriage benefits for same-sex couples. As a sign of just how much things have changed since the end of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," the Defense Department is opening up one of its three special recreation centers to OutServe for its annual conference in October. The resort and its waterfalls, pools, and gardens, which were meant to reward our fighting force and their families, will now be the setting for a group that's plotting to destroy what moral traditions our military has left.
No, no, and no.  Removing DADT also removed sexual distractions.  No longer are straight soldiers wondering about whether there are secret gays in the unit and no longer are gay sailors worried that they might be found out.  The sexual tension of the game of secrecy is gone.

The demand is for equality, plain and simple.  Those who are LGBTQ want nothing that straights don't have and nothing beyond that.  Ultimately, we want to be left alone to be able to live without worrying about bigots like the FRC trying to keep us in a lower caste.

That homosexuals have a different definition of what is moral than the narrow bigotry of the FRC does not mean destruction of morality.  Those who serve seek to maintain military traditions that are nondiscriminatory.  This is not very different than what happened with racial integration of the military.  Only discriminatory traditions were left behind and the military was stronger for it.  To the last part, I would suggest that General Colin Powell, later Secretary of State under President George W. Bush, is an excellent example of honoring tradition.  Interestingly, General Powell also favored dropping DADT.

It is true that OutServe will hold its 2012 annual conference at Shades of Green.  Last month OutServe announced, "OutServe, the association of actively-serving LGBT U.S. military personnel and one of the largest LGBT employee resource groups in the world, announced that its Second Annual OutServe International Leadership Conference will take place October 25-28, 2012 at the military’s Shades of Green Resort in Orlando, FL."
Until then, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder is happy to run point for OutServe from the Department of Justice, where he and his team are actively working to rip the federal marriage law to shreds. In typical Obama administration fashion, Holder waited until a sleepy Friday afternoon before forwarding a letter to Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) that announced his Department would not be defending the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in a challenge over same-sex military benefits. Almost a year to the day that President Obama first refused to fight for DOMA, Holder turned down his fifth straight case on the law.
"As I explained in my letter of February 23, 2011, the President and I have concluded that classifications based on sexual orientation should be subject to a heightened standard of congressional scrutiny under equal protection principles, and that Section 3 of DOMA fails such scrutiny... I have accordingly determined that [the military's Title 38]... violate[s] the equal protection component of the Fifth Amendment... I will instruct Department attorneys not to defend those provisions... in McLaughlin and to inform the district court of the Department's view that like Section 3 of DOMA, 38 U.S.C... cannot be constitutionally applied to same-sex couples..."
I am grateful that President Obama and Attorney General Holder are not wasting my tax dollars defense of a law that is obviously unconstitutional.  I wrote about the Attorney General's decision last month.  It was almost half a year ago when I wrote about why Speaker Boehner is wrong to defend DOMA.

Attorney General Holder's words, quoted above, make sense.
Of course, it's not Holder's place to decide which laws are or are not constitutional. But unfortunately for our troops, this administration has never been one to play by the rules-or abide by its job description. Meanwhile, the fringe activists cheered the DOJ's rebellion. We are "delighted," said one, "that, for the first time, [Holder] has said that separate definitions that apply to military veterans are unconstitutional." Well, the Attorney General may have said so, but the courts haven't. And unless the White House has found some way to bypass them too, the matter is far from settled.
The courts are determining the constitutionality of DOMA.  It appears, at least according to the 9th District Courts, that DOMA has no rational basis and is unconstitutional.  It will take time for equality to be the law of the land for the LGBTQ Community.  In the interim, the bigots, like FRC and other Southern Poverty Law Center designated hate groups, will continue to raise money to fight off an imagined enemy.  While we are waiting for the Supreme Court to remove an unnecessary caste system from our country, we are safer and more secure without DADT and with OutServe advocating for our troops.

09 March 2012

Praise: Neil deGrasse Tyson, advocate for education and NASA

Astronomer and author Neil deGrasse Tyson's testimony on Wednesday before the United States Senate ran about twenty-five minutes including the Q & A.  In the testimony, Dr. Tyson calls for doubling the budget of NASA.  His passion for space exploration is based on science and on capitalism.  He really is brilliant as both a scientist and a populist.  If you can possible afford the time, please listen.

08 March 2012

FollowUp 6: Voting Rights

Paul Carroll, WWII veteran

According to the Plain Dealer, Mr. Carroll was the victim of Ohio's new voter registration rules.
“My beef is that I had to pay a driver to take me up there because I don’t walk so well and have to use this cane and now I can’t even vote,” said Paul Carroll, 86, who has lived in Aurora nearly 40 years, running his own business, Carroll Tire, until 1975.
“I had to stop driving, but I got the photo ID from the Veterans Affairs instead, just a month or so ago. You would think that would count for something. I went to war for this country, but now I can’t vote in this country.”
Portage Elections Board Director Faith Lyon said she felt badly for Carroll, but said the law requires an address on even a veteran’s identification card.
None of this should be surprising.  I was among many who was writing about changes in voting laws half a year ago.  These laws are supposedly to ensure that we don't have cheating at the polls. 
Lyon said Carroll could have voted a provisional ballot at the polling place he visited, Harmon Middle School in Aurora.
Carroll said he was offered a provisional ballot, but that "the print looked very small, I didn't have my glasses and I was kind of perturbed by then."
Governor Kasich and the Ohio GOP should be ashamed of themselves.  Major Carroll should have been treated with far more respect.  He, more than most of us, earned the right to vote in our elections.

The Plain Dealer has recently spoken out against the new laws and they note that the voters of Ohio will have a chance to rescind the new voter rules in November.
The Senate Republican caucus got Ohio partway to a solution with last week's introduction of a bill to repeal House Bill 194, the set of election reforms the General Assembly passed last year and Gov. John Kasich signed into law. HB 194 reduces the time for early voting and forbids mailing absentee ballot applications to all voters -- a practice that Cuyahoga County had adopted in recent elections and that this page supports.
Even worse has been the perception of partisanship driving the bill, which passed with no Democratic support.
With ease, Ohio Democrats collected enough petition signatures to challenge HB 194 with a referendum on this November's ballot. With that cloud hanging over it, the new law cannot go into effect. The March 6 primary will be run under the rules that existed before its passage.
As I wrote last year, while photo IDs may be implemented as a reasonable requirement to vote, I question them way many states are doing so, particularly Wisconsin with its "free if you are in the know" IDs.  The governors and legislatures enacting these laws claimed that their goals were to reduce taxes and increase jobs.  Restricting voting does neither.  Most of these restrictions appear to have the goal of disenfranchising new eligible voters.  Limiting access for those who are legally entitled to vote is unAmerican.

Thanks to Tully's Page for the heads up and for the photo of Mr. Carroll.

3 October 2011, Original Pedantic Political Ponderings article.
14 October 2011, FollowUp 1.
22 October 2011, FollowUp 2.
6 November, FollowUp 3.
14 November 2011, FollowUp 4.
14 December 2011, FollowUp 5.

2 April 2012, FollowUp 7.
3 June 2012, FollowUp 8.