America: July 2015

2006-2015  Gay Military Signal

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VA Establishes LGBT
Special Emphasis Group
as EEO Effort Continues


by Danny Ingram
AVER President Emeritus

The establishment of “sexual orientation” as a protected class within the Department of Defense Military Equal Opportunity program has been a major priority for some time for American Veterans for Equal Rights and other organizations working towards equality for LGBT military service members, veterans, and their families.  Earlier this month, this designation became a reality, the culmination of a concerted effort by many LGBT activists and service organizations.  It has not been an easy victory, and the uphill battle has been going on for many years.  The designation of LGBT service members as a protected class is not only necessary for the security of our men and women in uniform, but carries significant implications for LGBT veterans as well. 

The Military Equal Opportunity (MEO) program was established as the primary means by which service members belonging to a "protected class" can receive help to redress complaints of harassment and discrimination.  According to the Air Force MEO Program website, "The MEO program seeks to eliminate unlawful discrimination and sexual harassment against military members, family members, and retirees based on race, color, sex, national origin, or religion."  The first step in resolving an issue is to report it to immediate superiors, to use "the chain of command."  If a member of the military who belongs to one of the protected classes believes that they have attempted to resolve an issue of harassment or discrimination through the chain of command and have received no assistance, they can appeal to the MEO officer within their own unit for direct assistance.  Before LGB service members were added to the list of protected classes, they did not have this ability.  If their commander was unwilling to help, or was the source of the harassment, the only recourse open to LGB service members would be to seek help from the Inspector General, which is a very difficult, time consuming effort.

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Supreme Court
Legalizes Love, Again!

 
Nearly half a century after the Supreme Court lifted bans on interracial marriage nationwide, it has now just lifted bans on same sex marriage across America.  Lets be clear, 50 years ago the President's parents would not have been able to marry in nearly half the states in our nation.  The President's parents married in Hawaii in 1961, a state that had never enacted an anti-miscegenation law.  His mom's home state, Kansas, lifted its ban on interracial marriage in 1948.  The last state to do that was Alabama which did so in 2000, imagine!
 
In late April, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments about allowing Same Sex Marriage to become the law of the land or not.  According to the recounting of our day in court, they talked about the traditions of aboriginals in the Kalahari desert, and millennia old mores; all this at the dawn of the third millennium.  Fifty or a hundred years from now, folks will shake their heads in disbelief that there was such a serious discourse on something so self evident as equal rights.  In the future they'll be arguing about the rights of robots to marry, no doubt.  And what about the rights of gay and transgender robots!  Will they be giving impeccably clever logical software responses to questions about their hardware?
 
Whilst our highest most infallible civil court engaged in dead serious deliberation grappling with the gravity of superstition and exclusion, meanwhile in May, the Prime Minister of Luxembourg married his same sex partner in a rite attended by European heads to state, royalty, and surely the gay Prime Minister of Belgium and the former lesbian Prime Minster of Iceland and her wife.  Iceland! 
And in Ireland, a conservative Catholic country, two thirds of that nation's voters voted to enshrine same sex marriage into their sacred constitution!  The 'Yes' vote was supported by all of the country's political parties.  Ireland!

Shari Zabel
MAJ, USAF, Ret.


Fighter Pilot

by
Denny Meyer

USAF Major Shari Zabel, Retired, served a full twenty year career as a fighter pilot, then served as a civilian with NORAD, and then began transitioning from male to female in 2013.  That's the short version of an incredible life as an American patriot; the details follow.

Her family, from Liberal Kansas, were Nazarene Christian fundamentalists.  Her father was a diesel mechanic and her mother taught English, speech, and debate.  Her grandfather and uncle had both served in the Air Force.  Shari grew up in Oklahoma and Arkansas.   Her earliest memory of knowing she was a girl in a boy's body was at the age of three when she 'borrowed' her sister's leotard.  She soon learned that expressing who she was wasn't safe.  In elementary school she learned how to 'act like a boy as was expected.'  Still, at an early age, she began to be teased as effeminate.  So, she tried harder and ended up excelling as an athlete, in track and playing baseball and football.   These were the typical transgender early experiences of a person now aged 50.  As a teenager, she knew how to fight, how to quote the bible, and how to be a social conservative; she kept who she was bottled up inside, never speaking of it to anyone, not even herself.

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