America: Sept. 2008, Vol. V, No. 3

2006-2008  Gay Military Signal

In This Issue

1. Rep, Joe Sestak; Retired Admiral turned Congressman fighting to end DADT
2. Survey reveals VA discriminates against Transgender Veterans
3.  Robert Stout, President, Buckeye Region American Veterans For Equal Rights
     an ordinary hero

News and Commentary

Representative Joe Sestak

Retired Admiral
turned Congressman
fighting to end
Don't Ask, Don't Tell

by Julianne Sohn

He packed away his Navy uniform, but is still actively serving his country in Congress, fighting for equal rights for all in the military.

Congressman Joe Sestak, a Democrat representing the 7th Congressional District of Pennsylvania, spent 31 years serving in the U.S. Navy and retired a three-star admiral.  On July, 23, 2008, he spoke at the House Armed Services Committee hearing on a review of Don't Ask, Don't Tell 15 years after it was introduced as a law.

The congressman was gracious enough to talk to Gay Military Signal over the phone on August 1, 2008.

The committee decided to revisit Don't Ask, Don't Tell due in part because outside surveys have shown that a certain percentage of men and women in the military are gay.

"I went to war with these people," said Sestak, who led over 15,000 sailors as a former commander of the George Washington aircraft carrier group.  "How can I come home and say they don't deserve equal rights and equal opportunity like everyone else?"


Survey reveals
Veterans Administration
discriminates against Transgender Veterans

by Monica F. Helms
President, TAVA

The Palm Center at the University of California, Santa Barbara has released the findings of a survey, conducted by Transgender American Veterans Association (TAVA), that shows that transgender veterans are being turned away and being mistreated in high numbers by Veterans Administration medical facilities.  The survey, with 827 transgender veteran participants, was conducted from December 13, 2007 to May 1, 2008.  This represents a strong sampling from what is estimated to be approximately 300,000 veterans in the US who identify as being transgender.

Dr. Jeanne Scheper from The Palm Center at the University of California, Santa Barbara coordinated the report and Dr. Bonnie Moradi, Associate Professor of Psychology at the University of Florida did the analyzing. Dr. Gary Gates, Senior Research Fellow at the Williams Institute, University of California acted as a consultant and provided guidance for survey. Professors Karl Bryant, PhD, of the State University of New York, New Paltz, NY and Kristen Schilt, PhD, of the University of Chicago, Chicago, IL, wrote the White Paper report. Notice that four universities in various parts of the country contributed to the creation of this report.


Profiles in Patriotism

 Robert Stout
President, BRAVER
Buckeye Region American Veterans For Equal Rights

an ordinary hero

by Denny Meyer

Sgt Robert Stout has a lot of integrity under his belt, along with some shrapnel, for a young man of 26.  He will live the rest of his life with the evolving result of having been injured by shrapnel from an RPG while on duty in Iraq, from being awarded a Purple Heart for that wound, and for having had the youthful idealism of personal integrity to come Out nationally while on active duty in the US Army.  He's had his fifteen minutes of fame, somewhat to his chagrin.  Now, he is dedicated to advocating the repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell so that other American patriots, like himself, may serve our nation openly without discrimination.  He is leading a heartland chapter of American Veterans For Equal Right (AVER) in Columbus, Ohio.

Robert Stout grew up on a two-hundred-acre farm along an unpaved road in rural Utica, Ohio, which his family has owned since before Ohio became a state in 1803.  In this small American town in Licking County, population 6,000, everyone knew everyone else; his grandparents lived next door on the family farm; his teachers went to school with his parents; and even the cats, dogs, and pigs on the farm all knew each other on a first name basis.  He played clarinet in his high school band, marching down Main Street with siblings, cousins, and his Jack Russell Terrier running alongside, on balmy autumn evenings when the air was heavy with the sweet scent of new mown hay.  Robert could not wait to escape this Heartland paradise as fast as he could, as soon as he graduated from high school, by joining the Army.  And yet, after years at war, having served in Kosovo and nearly being blown to bits in Iraq, having led troops on patrol, and having attained national fame by telling the world that he is gay, he could not wait to go back home to his hearth in Licking County, Ohio.  It takes a special kind of courage to do all that he has done, particularly going back to rural America to take up the banner for our rights.


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