Chuck Hagel Hub




Pentagon Continuing to Drag Its Feet on Trans Issues in the Military

Landon wilson

In a new column over at Slate, Nathaniel Frank looks at the Pentagon’s continued enforcement of its ban on transgender service members and the robotic responses given to questions surrounding the untenable ban.

Writes Frank:

The Pentagon uses that word—untenable—too, in its oddly robotic response to anyone who questions the rationale for its trans ban. But the Pentagon says that it is trans service that is untenable, not its bogus rationalization for prejudice. Asked by the Washington Blade why its newly signed Human Goals Charter excludes “gender identity,” spokesman Lt. Cmdr. Nathan Christensen said that “service members must serve in austere environments, many of which make necessary and ongoing treatments related to sex reassignment and many other conditions untenable. Policies on military personnel and health care regarding transgender members are intended to meet the needs of the services, which include the ability to deploy to and serve in austere environments with limited (and perhaps no) access to medical care for prolonged periods.” …

How do you explain the blanket ban on transgender service, based on the idea that some transgender personnel may require burdensome medical treatment, while current policy allows all kinds of non-transgender personnel to serve even if they require the same or more burdensome medical treatment? Why, you become a robot. When the Washington Post asked the Pentagon for a comment for its recent front-page story on Landon Wilson [pictured above], a highly trained sailor who lost his job for being trans, spokeswoman Lt. Col. Cathy Wilkinson said, “Service members must serve in austere environments, many of which make necessary and ongoing treatments related to sex reassignment and many other conditions untenable.” Sound familiar?

Check out the full column HERE.


Tuesday Speed Read: Chuck Hagel, Human Rights Charter, North Carolina, Tennessee, Michigan, Boy Scouts

BY LISA KEEN / Keen News Service

DOD SIGNS MORE INCLUSIVE CHARTER: Hagel

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel signed a “Human Goals Charter” Monday. “By signing this charter today,” said Hagel during the ceremony, “DOD’s civilian and military leaders commit ourselves – all of us – to making DOD a model for equal opportunity and [fair treatment] for all. …As the charter says, we will continue striving to make military service a model – a model of equal opportunity for all, regardless of race, color, sex, religion, sexual orientation, or national origin.” SPART*A, an LGBT military organization, called the addition of “sexual orientation” to the charter a welcome “symbolic gesture” but only a “first step.” "The next logical step,” said SPART*A Policy Director Allyson Robinson, “is to amend related DoD directives to add sexual orientation to military equal opportunity and non-discrimination policies; only then will gay and lesbian service members be protected.” SPART*A noted that sexual orientation was added to the Human Goals Charter for DOD’s civilian force in 1998.

CHURCH CHALLENGE: Ucc

In a first of its kind lawsuit, a group of ministers filed a complaint in federal court Monday against North Carolina’s ban on marriage for same-sex couples, saying that the law’s penalties against clergy who conduct ceremonies for same-sex marriages violates their free exercise of religion. The lawsuit, United Church of Christ v. Cooper, was organized by the United Church of Christ and filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of North Carolina, in Charlotte. Jon Davidson, legal director for Lambda Legal, called the lawsuit “particularly promising” because North Carolina law makes it a misdemeanor for a “minister, officer or any other person authorized to solemnize a marriage” under North Carolina law to marry a couple without them having obtained a marriage license, which same-sex couples cannot obtain from the state.

N.C. AG OPPOSES RELIEF: R_cooper

The Democratic attorney general of North Carolina, Roy Cooper, filed a brief in another marriage equality lawsuit Monday, opposing a request to recognize a lesbian couple’s marriage in Massachusetts on an expedited basis to secure health coverage for their sick child. In the ACLU-led lawsuit, Fisher-Borne v. Smith, Cooper said the potential harm for the family is “outweighed by the harm to the public if State officials are enjoined from enforcing the democratically ratified State laws and Constitution.”

APPEALS COURT GRANTS STAY:

A three-judge panel of the Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals April 5 granted Tennessee’s request for a stay of a district court judge’s ruling. District Court Judge Aleta Trauger denied the request for a stay on a narrow and temporary order she issued in Tanco v. Haslam in March requiring the state to recognize the marriage licenses of three same-sex couples who obtained marriage licenses out of state. The panel granted the stay and ordered that a hearing by a panel of the appeals court should be scheduled “without delay” to hear the merits of the state’s appeal.

AND ‘NO’ TO SKIPPING A STEP:

The Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals also issued an order Monday, denying the state of Michigan’s request to skip over a three-judge panel and go straight to the full appeals court with its appeal of a district court ruling that its ban on same-sex marriages is unconstitutional. The one-page order stated simply that “no judge of this court” voted to send the case directly to the full bench.

BOSTON GLOBE ON BOYS SCOUTS:

A Boston Globe editorial Monday characterized the Boy Scouts of America policy banning gay scout leaders as “stuck in the past” and said “the organization itself exists in a 1950s time warp….[where] there are no merit badges for inclusiveness….”

© 2014 Keen News Service. All rights reserved.


Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel Says All Rogue States Have Complied with Orders Regarding Gay Spousal Benefits

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel released the following statement this morning:

HagelOn Oct. 31, I called on the chief of the National Guard Bureau to work with several states to fully implement Department of Defense policy by providing DoD identification cards to all eligible military spouses, regardless of sexual orientation. Following consultations between the National Guard Bureau and the adjutants general of the states, all eligible service members, dependents and retirees - including same-sex spouses - are now able to obtain ID cards in every state. All military spouses and families sacrifice on behalf of our country. They deserve our respect and the benefits they are entitled to under the law. All of DoD is committed to pursuing equal opportunities for all who serve this nation, and I will continue to work to ensure our men and women in uniform as well as their families have full and equal access to the benefits they deserve.

On Monday we reported that Mississippi was the final state left which had not complied with the orders.

The Washington Blade adds:

A defense official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Mississippi, the last remaining hold-out state, came on board sometime this week, although the official didn’t have an exact date for when that happened. The official said Mississippi is adopting a policy similar to Texas, Louisiana and Georgia, which are placing state workers on federal status to process same-sex benefit applications.


Rogue States Refuse To Obey Pentagon Order Over Gay Spousal Benefits

Despite direct orders from the Pentagon, several states said yesterday that they will continue to deny ID cards to gay spouses at state militias.

Reuters reports:

PentagonThe resistance put the Pentagon on a collision course with states that have rejected a Defense Department request, first issued in September, for identity cards to be issued to same-sex spouses so they can begin receiving benefits due to married couples.

Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin, the Republican head of the National Governors Association, called on President Barack Obama and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to "stop using the National Guard as a pawn in a larger social agenda," her spokesman, Alex Weintz, said in a statement on Friday.

"The president has made it clear he supports gay marriage. He has the legal authority to order federal agencies to recognize gay marriages. He does not have the legal authority to force state agencies to do so, or to unilaterally rewrite state laws or state constitutions," Weintz said.

Josh Havens, a spokesman for Texas Governor Rick Perry, said, "Texas Military Forces is a state agency, and as such is obligated to adhere to the Texas Constitution and the laws of this state which clearly define marriage as between one man and one woman."

Those Republican-led states are Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas and West Virginia. Earlier this week The Indiana National Guard reversed it's decision to not issue ID cards to same-sex spouses explaining that “the decision was never made to not process benefits, rather the decision was delayed in order to fully understand the impacts while service members serve in different pay categories.”

On Thursday night, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel issued a stern order to those states.

Like Perry, Republican Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant is one of those who has resisted. The Mississippi Business Journal reports:

Bryant says he does not have the constitutional authority to lift the ban. “The Mississippi Constitution clearly defines marriage as a union between one man and one woman and expressly prohibits the recognition of same-sex marriages performed in other jurisdictions,” Bryant said through a spokesman.

Georgia has issued a similar statement: "The State of Georgia does not recognize same sex marriages and is not authorizing the Georgia National Guard to process the applications for same-sex married benefits at state facilities. Any personnel seeking to apply for same-sex married benefits will be referred to federal facilities."

Chuck Hagel Blasts Rogue States Over Gay Spousal Benefits, Issues Stern Order: VIDEO

Hagel

In a blistering speech delivered to the Anti-Defamation League on Thursday night, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel blasted the rogue states which are refusing to issue spousal benefits at their National Guard facilities, saying their actions are wrong, hurt the military, and further prejudice.

Defense_maddowHagel issued a stern order for those states to comply with federal law or he will take further action.

We've been covering this issue over the past couple of months. South Carolina, Texas, Indiana, Georgia, Florida, Mississippi, Louisiana, Oklahoma, and West Virginia are the states that are not in compliance with the Pentagon orders..

Here are Hagel's remarks, via the White House:

When the Supreme Court issued its decision on the Defense of Marriage Act this summer, the Department of Defense immediately began working on providing the same benefits to all eligible spouses, regardless of sexual orientation. We did it because everyone who serves our country in uniform, everyone in this country, should receive all the benefits they deserve, and they've earned, and in accordance with the law. Everyone's rights must be protected.

This means that all spouses of service members are entitled to DoD ID cards, and the benefits that come with them. But several states today are refusing to issue these IDs to same-sex spouses at National Guard facilities. Not only does this violate the states' obligations under federal law, but their actions have created hardship and inequality by forcing couples to travel long distances to federal military bases to obtain the ID cards they're entitled to.

This is wrong. It causes division among our ranks, and it furthers prejudice, which DoD has fought to extinguish, as has the ADL.

Today, I directed the Chief of the National Guard Bureau, General Frank Grass, to take immediate action to remedy this situation. At my direction, he will meet with the Adjutants General from the states where these ID cards are being declined and denied. The Adjutants General will be expected to comply with both lawful direction and DoD policy, in line with the practices of 45 other states and jurisdictions.

Whether they are responding to natural disasters here at home, in their states, or fighting in Afghanistan, our National Guardsmen all wear the uniform of the United States of America. They are serving this country. They – and their families – are entitled to all the benefits and respect accorded to all of our military men and women.

Watch Rachel Maddow cover Hagel's order, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Chuck Hagel Blasts Rogue States Over Gay Spousal Benefits, Issues Stern Order: VIDEO" »


Oklahoma Governor Orders National Guard to Stop Processing Military Benefits for Gay Couples

Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin has ordered the state's National Guard to stop processing military benefits for same-sex couples, the AP reports. Last month, the Pentagon issued new orders offering partner benefits to troops with same-sex spouses.

FallinFallin spokesman Alex Weintz told The Associated Press on Tuesday that the governor was following the wish of Oklahoma voters, who approved a constitutional amendment that prohibits giving benefits of marriage to gay couples.

Because of that prohibition, Weintz said the governor’s legal staff advised the Oklahoma National Guard not to process requests for benefits from gay couples.

With the order, Fallin has joined Texas, Misssissippi and Louisiana in refusing to comply with the order and process the spousal benefits, based on state laws banning same-sex marriage. Yesterday, we reported that Florida is also deciding whether to comply with the Pentagon order.

The American Military Partner Association (AMPA), the nation's premier resource and support network for LGBT military families. released a statement in response:

"Since the governor of Oklahoma has decided to join Texas, Mississippi, and Louisiana in playing politics with our military families, we need immediate and decisive action from the Administration and the Defense Department in affirming that all military spouses, regardless of sexual orientation, will be treated equally. Our military families should not be left vulnerable to the prejudice of state governors, and the Defense Department must use it's control of federal funds to stop this discrimination."


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