Don't Ask, Don't Tell Hub
Confirmation hearings are currently underway for Chuck Hagel as Secretary of Defense. Watch them LIVE HERE.
Chris Johnson at the Washington Blade reports on some written responses Hagel gave to advance policy questions from the Senate Armed Services Committee.
Hagel reiterated his promise to commit to 'DADT' repeal and LGBT military families and move quickly on extending troop benefits currently prohibited by DOMA:
Since the time “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” was lifted in September 2011, Pentagon officials have consistently said they’ve been reviewing the benefits that could be extended to gay service members. However, no action has been taken.
Hagel addressed this ongoing review at the Pentagon in response to a question on the status of this report and the timing when the group is expected to produce it.
“I understand that this review is not taking the form of a report, per se, but has involved assembling detailed information on individual benefits (including whether each such benefit might be made available under current law, and options for how to do so) to support decision making by the senior civilian and military leadership of the Department, and also that those decisions are currently under active consideration,” Hagel wrote. “If confirmed, I will review the work that has been undertaken during the course of the benefits review and will work closely with the Department of Defense civilian and military leadership to move forward expeditiously on this issue.”
Johnson also says at least one protester shouted at Hagel prior to the hearings, telling him to make good on his promises.
We'll report on other developments as they come...
A gay man in Boynton Beach, Florida, is being accused of trying to start abstract "trouble" after his neighborhood association nixed his pride flag. The man, Dave Armstrong, says his neighbors are just homophobic. "I said, 'Listen, everybody else has an American flag on the front of their property, so why can't I have my pride flag right out here?'"
An Atlanta man is suing Georgia after state rejects his three gay-themed vanity license plates, "4GayLib," "GayPwr" and "GayGuy:" "All three were denied because they were already on a list of more than 10,000 banned tags, the state's 'bad tag list'. 'There are some limits that are proper but none of this makes any sense,' [Attorney Cynthia] Counts said. 'It's completely contrary to any first amendment principals.'"
The Connecticut Senate approved the state's first openly gay Supreme Court justice.
New rules from the Kremlin demand military officers inspect recruits' bodies, including their genitals, for tattoos that may indicate gang or gay affiliation. "The reason for getting tattoos could indicate a low cultural or educational level," the directive reads. "If an influence by external factors is determined, for example, persuasion or direct coercion, this indicates the malleability of the young man, his disposition to submit to another's will."
Scotland Yard says it has arrested three people suspected of being involved in a "Muslim street patrol" that recently assaulted a gay man in London.
More about corporations turning on the Boy Scouts for the Scouts' tenacious homophobia, including a chart on who's giving how much to the organization. (Click on image to expand.)
David Hall, the former Air Force sergeant booted under Don't Ask, Don't Tell, discusses his experience as a "citizen co-chair" during President Obama's second inauguration. "I think he tried to put us all at ease and talk to us as normal people," he said of the commander-in-chief's demeanor.
Rather than joining the momentum that will most likely usher in marriage equality in Rhode Island, and simultaneously going against his party peer, Gov. Lincoln Chafee, Democratic State Sen. Frank A. Ciccone III plans on introducing a bill that will put same-sex unions to a popular vote, rather than allowing lawmakers to decide.
Despite outcry from LGBT students, Chick-fil-A will stay put at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. The school, however, agreed to give them $1,500 to see if they can start an anti-bullying and general awareness campaign on such a small budget.
Stephen Dorff found some relief in the Roosevelt Hotel's bushes.
Here are the president's remarks on the Pentagon lifting the ban on women in combat: "Today, by moving to open more military positions—including ground combat units—to women, our armed forces have taken another historic step toward harnessing the talents and skills of all our citizens..."
Polish lawmakers begin debating civil unions.
Why didn't Sheryl Crow tell the world that former lover Lance Armstrong was doping?
David Beckham in a "fashionable dressing gown."
Is JJ Abrams going to direct the next Star Wars flick?
In an official White House photo by Lawrence Jackson, First Lady Michelle Obama greets David Hall, one of eight Citizen Co-Chairs for the Inauguration, in the Diplomatic Reception Room of the White House, Jan. 17, 2013.
More on Hall, a gay Airman discharged under DADT, HERE.
You may remember Hall from our 2010 piece about the open letter he sent to Obama about the pain he felt when the Air Force discharged him for being gay. Since then, the former Sergeant has gone on to become Director of Development at the armed service's advocacy group OutServe-SLDN, where he continues to fighting for gays and lesbians in uniform.
Now, in an amazing turn of events, Hall has been selected to be one of eight "citizen co-chairs" chosen by the inaugural committee to join the commander-in-chief's swearing in.
“This is certainly the honor of a lifetime, and I am grateful to President Obama for his leadership in repealing ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ so that no qualified American who wants to serve this country in uniform will ever again be denied that right simply because they are gay or lesbian,” said Hall in a press release.
OutServe-SLDN executive director Allyson Robinson also celebrated the news, but made clear that the fight for equality in the armed services goes on: "There is a great deal more to do on the road to full LGBT equality in our military, but it’s important for us to take a moment this weekend to honor the leadership of this President and recognize just how far we have come. There could be no better personification of that than former Air Force Sergeant David Hall."
Pentagon Backs Army's Decision Not to Intervene in Spouses Group's Decision to Deny Lesbian Membership
In December, Andrew posted about Ashley Broadway, the wife of a ranking officer in the Army, who was excluded from the Association of Bragg Officers’ Spouses in North Carolina because she is a lesbian.
"The facts here are simple: there is no legal need or justification for any spouse to be excluded from a group like this, which exists to provide support to the spouses and families of our military men and women and the communities they serve," said Outserve-SLDN Executive Director Allyson Robinson.
Buzzfeed's Chris Geidner reports that the Pentagon is now backing up the decision of Army leaders at Fort Bragg not to intervene in the case:
The reason cited by an Army spokesman at Fort Bragg: "[F]ederal discrimination laws don't extend to sexual orientation." A Pentagon spokesman added late Tuesday that the Department of Defense "neither drafts, executes nor exercises control over the Club or its governing documents. Private organizations who adhere to the criteria outlined in applicable instructions are allowed base access."
The decision marks a distinct departure from the path announced this past week by the Marines, which will require such groups not to discriminate against same-sex spouses if they wish to operate on military property.
Ben Abel, a spokesman at Fort Bragg, however, said the spouses group is "not in violation of the law in the way that they are operating now."