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Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel Says Transgender Military Service Ban ‘Should Be Reviewed’ - VIDEO

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In an interview that aired on “This Week with George Stephanopoulos," Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel said he’s open to reviewing the military’s ban on transgender service members, but cautioned that trans issues are logistically “a bit more complicated” than issues surrounding openly gay service members.

Said Hagel:

“[Trans] issues require medical attention. Austere locations where we put our men and women, in many cases, don’t always provide that kind of opportunity…again, I go back to the bottom line – every qualified American who wants to serve our country should have an opportunity if they fit the qualifications and can do it. This is an area that we’ve not defined enough.”

Watch the interview, AFTER THE JUMP

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First Same-Sex Wedding Held At US Naval Academy

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The very first gay wedding at the US Naval Academy took place yesterday afternoon in the school's famed chapel. The couple, David Bucher and Bruce Moats, were wed in front of 100 guests, including their own two children. Bucher graduated from the Maryland Academy over 20 years ago.

According to NBC News, even though the Academy did not oppose the ceremony, the two still faced some challenges. 

But Academy Chaplain Lt. John Connolly, who officiated the ceremony, said the run-up to the memorable day wasn’t all smooth sailing.

“Not everyone agrees that this should be happening and it took a significant amount of discernment on my own part as well as this couple’s as they were preparing for the day,” Connolly said.

But as he got to know Bucher and Moats, he understood how in love they were. “The more I met with this couple, the happier I was to be presiding today,” he added.

Said Moats about their decision to marry at the Academy: "The question was; should we do it, are we advocating, are we here to make a political message? We're not. We're here to break political barriers for sure, but it's also about taking advantage of the rights that we have."

Watch video of the ceremony and interviews with the happy new couple, AFTER THE JUMP.

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Marines Sing 'Let It Go' from Frozen, Go Nuts When Elsa Lets Her Hair Down: VIDEO

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A group of U.S. Marines 'lets it go' while watching Frozen, and goes absolutley ballistic when Elsa lets her hair down.

Join the singalong, AFTER THE JUMP...

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

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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.


Friday Speed Read: Ninth Circuit, Michelle Friedland, Idaho Veteran, New Hampshire

BY LISA KEEN / Keen News Service

SENATE CONFIRMS PRO-GAY JUDGE:

FriedlandThe U.S. Senate voted 51 to 40 on Wednesday to confirm the nomination of a pro-gay judge to the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals. Judge Michelle Friedland of San Francisco served as research assistant for openly gay Professor Kathleen Sullivan from 1999 to 2000 and then as law clerk to U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor from 2001 to 2002. She won an LGBT Award from the ACLU of California in 2009 for her work challenging Proposition 8. She played a substantial role in drafting briefs in support of same-sex couples before the California Supreme Court. She wrote an amicus brief against Proposition 8 in the Hollingsworth v. Perry appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court last year on behalf of Bay Area Lawyers for Individual Freedom and others. In questions submitted in writing, Senator Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) asked Friedland whether there is an “equivalency” between marriage equality and racial equality. Friedland noted that most cases involving racial discrimination have been decided based on equal protection. In contrast, she said, the Supreme Court ruling in U.S. v. Windsor used due process and equal protection grounds. She noted that the issue with regard to state bans is still “being litigated actively.”

NOMINEE’S VOTE ‘HELD OVER’:

The U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee was set to vote Thursday morning on the nomination of openly gay federal district court nominee Darrin Gayles. But it didn’t happen. Republicans on the committee asked that the Gayles nomination and three others be “held over” until next week.

Madelynn_taylorRETIRED VET TO THE RESCUE:

Retired U.S. Army Colonel Barry Johnson offered, in a political commentary published by the Idaho Statesman Wednesday, to give his plot in the Idaho State Veterans Cemetery to a lesbian former Navy veteran so she may be buried with her same-sex spouse. “As a lifelong Idahoan and a 27-year Army veteran of two wars, I've worked beside heterosexuals, gays, lesbians and bisexuals,” wrote Johnson. He said the end of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” had little effect on most military personnel and he feels Madelynn Taylor deserves the right to have a plot in the state veterans cemetery next to her spouse. A state cemetery for military veterans in Idaho recently refused her request because Idaho bans recognition of same-sex marriages. “Like Madelynn, I love this state and I respect the views of all my neighbors, whether I agree with those views or not,” wrote Johnson, who acknowledged he was uncertain whether the state would allow Taylor to take him up on the offer. “…But let's not pick on people who aren't hurting anybody and simply minding their own business.”

NhA LOSS IN NEW HAMPSHIRE:

The New Hampshire House on Wednesday voted overwhelmingly to table a bill seeking to amend the state constitution to add sexual orientation to the state’s non-discrimination policy. Having passed the state senate unanimously in March, the House vote –to send the bill to an “interim study” committee—marked a tough blow.

AND A WIN IN NEW HAMPSHIRE: 

On the same day it rejected a prohibition on sexual orientation discrimination, the New Hampshire House voted 217 to 119 for a bill to clarify that the state would recognize marriage licenses issued to same-sex couples from other states and would recognize as marriages any civil union recognition granted to a same-sex couple from another state. The senate passed the bill in March. Democratic Governor Maggie Hassan is expected to sign the legislation.

© 2014 Keen News Service. All rights reserved.


Military Continues To Dismiss Transgender Service Members: Video

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The repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" in 2011 may have eliminated the discriminatory military policy for gays, lesbians and bisexuals, but not for everyone in the LGBT community. Sadly, transgender service members can still be dismissed from the armed forces.

The Washington Post reports:

Transgender service members can still be dismissed from the force without question, the result of a decades-old policy that dates back to an era when gender nonconformity was widely seen as a mental illness.

The policy, however, is now coming under scrutiny as service members like Wilson become more visible. Transgender service members are increasingly undergoing procedures to align their bodies more closely with the genders with which they identify. Medical experts, meanwhile, are urging the Defense Department to rescind a policy they view as discriminatory and outdated, noting that some of America’s closest allies, including Canada, Britain and Australia, have done so seamlessly.

Although the American Psychiatric Association revised its manual last year to indicate gender nonconformity is “not in itself a mental disorder,” the Defense Department relies on guidelines that describe transgender individuals as sexual deviants, and their condition as a “paraphilia.” Thousands of transgender men and women are now serving in the military while remaining in the closet, according to studies.

Some background on how activists approached the fight to repeal DADT several years ago:

Although transgender service members were avid supporters of the repeal, activists who led the effort were careful not to inject the plight of transgender service members into the debate.

“There was a certain reticence to discuss it in any official way with stakeholders for fear of complicating the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” said Allyson Robinson, a former Army officer and transgender activist. “There was a very clear awareness among all the organizations that worked on Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell that this issue was going to remain outstanding.”

While it's estimated that approximately 140,000 transgender people have at one point served in the U.S. military, no statistics are available on the number dismissed from the military.

A Pentagon spokeswoman, Lt. Col. Cathy Wilkinson, said the Defense Department does not know how many service members have been discharged for being transgender. She said the Pentagon has no plan to change its medical qualification standards based on the changes to the psychiatric association’s entry on gender disorder, but she noted that medical policies are being constantly reviewed.

AFTER THE JUMP, watch a Washington Post news segment about Landon Wilson, a 24-year-old transgender service member who was dismissed from the military just last month.

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