America: June 2009

2006-2009  Gay Military Signal

Summer 2009 Pride Edition

Don't Ask Don't Tell Policy

DADT and the Courts:
What’s Going On?

by Tom Field
Georgetown University Law Center

For those who seek repeal of DADT, the courts have produced both good news and bad in the past year.

 The bad news is that the courts have failed to strike down DADT on due process, equal protection, or First Amendment grounds.  The good news is that an important crack has opened in the wall that stands in the way of a court decision overturning DADT. 

 Here’s an explanation of what is going on.


Stages of Litigation

During the last 30 years, there have been two main stages of litigation over the military ban on gays and lesbians.  We are now entering stage three.

Stage One.  Stage one began in the 1970s, when a series of cases attacked the long-standing policy of discharging all gays and lesbians from the armed services, whether or not they had declared their sexual orientation.  This policy was coupled with extensive “witch hunts” to ferret out actual or suspected homosexuals, and was enforced through an intrusive question on physical examination forms which inquired whether an individual had “homosexual tendencies”. 

Starting in the mid-1970s, plaintiffs such as Air Force Technical Sergeant Leonard Matlovich began to challenge these policies in court.    After Matlovich declared his homosexuality, he was discharged as “unfit for service” despite an exemplary record.  He promptly sued for reinstatement.  After years of litigation, he eventually won an upgraded discharge and a substantial cash settlement.


Congressional Interview

Jared Polis
openly gay freshman
Colorado Congressman

by Denny Meyer

Representative Jared Polis is the first openly gay male elected to Congress as a freshman.  He is a co-chairman of the LGBT Equality Caucus, and a member of numerous House committees and subcommittees.  While attending Princeton University he began founding highly successful business ventures. He first ran for and won a seat on the Colorado State Board of Education in 2000 and served as the youngest chairman in the history of the Board.  He founded two innovative charter schools to help meet the needs of Colorado’s underserved students. In 2004, seeing the difficulty faced by older immigrant youth in mainstream public schools, he established and served as the superintendent of the New America School.

We interviewed him on May 4th, 2009; congratulated him on his victory in the election last November, and asked him how he is supporting efforts at progress on gay rights issues.

Gay Military Times: Many people view you as a new gay hero, having run as an openly gay candidate, winning, and starting out in Congress advocating rights issues right from the start.  What motivated you and what did you experience running as a gay candidate?

Jared Polis: I was civically active for a number of years.  I was on the State Board of Education and was a superintendent of a school  for new immigrants.  The situation arose, when Congressman Mark Udall ran for the Senate, the seat was open. And a lot of the issues I cared most about need to be addressed at the federal level.  That is: improving our education system, the war in Iraq, and working to make health care more affordable for American families.  That is really what drove me to run.


Profiles in Patriotism

Tony Breton


Denny Meyer

Tony Breton is the sort of solid soldier that can be counted on, over and over, to do his duty and do it exceptionally well.  While others give orders and get accolades, he's the one on his feet actually making things happen and making sure that they get done in the most outstanding manner possible.  They don't give medals for that, alas.  The fact that he's gay and enjoys dressing up rather spectacularly like a woman shouldn't matter any more than what flavor ice cream he likes.

Anthony Breton is of proud French Canadian-American Catholic descent.  He was born in Waterville, Maine in the mid 1950s; his grandmother was born on the St. Laurence River in Quebec.  His first language was French-Canadian and he grew up bilingual.  The family has a proud tradition of American military service.  His father served in WWII in the US Navy, and was part of an advance reconnaissance team that was in Normandy, behind enemy lines, before the D-Day Invasion of Allied forces.  It was fortuitous that his father was a native Francophone for that mission.  His mother served in the Nurses Corps in WWII. Both of his brothers served, one in Vietnam as a Marine, the other in the Air Force.


Sgt. Denny's Rant

Democracy, diversity, and Equality
Our American Armed Forces

By Denny Meyer

Sometimes I wonder if opponents of gay rights are somehow anti-American.  Isn't this nation of immigrants all about equality?  Many Americans would agree that our military's mission is to defend freedom around the world.  When our armed forces show up, their unique diversity is in-and-of itself a light unto the world.  Nowhere else on earth will you find an armed force so fully integrated.  Just seeing the faces of our troops, speaks of freedom to people everywhere who are fleeing oppression simply because of who they are.

Imagine an Afghan guide, coming to his first meeting with American soldiers whom he has been hired to guide to local villages where their mission is to meet with elders and provide aid and education in democracy. As he enters the room, four American soldiers are examining a map of the local terrain.  The first thing he notices is that one of the sergeants looks Russian; the Russians killed his grandparents, he hates Russians.  But this American sergeant is merely of Lithuanian decent; his name tag says, "Epstein," he's Jewish American from New York City.

Next he notices the senior officer in the room, an Asian American Major whose name tag says "Chin."  For a moment, he wonders whether he's Chinese Communist; but of course he can't be, he's an American Army officer.  He doesn't trust Communists, Russian or otherwise.


We Have a New Name

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Gay Military Signal

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Veterans' Summer Pride Event Listings

Summer 2009 LGBT Veterans'
Pride Parade and Event Listings

Veterans' Pride events are happening in cities across the nation.  Come and see us honor our own.  Better yet, join in and BE a part of it.  Our June listings include parades and events in:
Austin TX
New York NY
Albuquerque NM
Chicago IL


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