WBEZ | don't ask don't tell http://www.wbez.org/tags/dont-ask-dont-tell Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Marine general who opposed 'Don't Ask' repeal says ending ban was 'a non-event' http://www.wbez.org/story/marine-general-who-opposed-dont-ask-repeal-says-ending-ban-was-non-event-94400 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-November/2011-11-28/AP101203038183.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Marine Gen. James F. Amos, the face of opposition in the military to lifting the ban on gays serving openly, now acknowledges his concern has proven unfounded that repeal would undermine the war effort. In fact, he says, Marines have embraced the change.</p><p>In an Associated Press interview, Amos called the repeal in September "a non-event."</p><p>That is in contrast to his cautionary words to Congress in December 2010, shortly before President Barack Obama signed the repeal legislation. The ban was not lifted until this year to allow the Pentagon to prepare troops for the change.</p><p>"Successfully implementing repeal and assimilating openly homosexual Marines into the tightly woven fabric of our combat units has strong potential for disruption at the small unit level as it will no doubt divert leadership attention away from an almost singular focus on preparing units for combat," Amos testified. Still, he said at the time that if the law were changed, it would be faithfully followed by Marines.</p><p>He now sees no sign of disruption in the ranks — even on the front lines.</p><p>"I'm very pleased with how it has gone," Amos said during a weeklong trip that included four days in Afghanistan, where he heard nary a word of worry about gays. During give-and-take sessions with Marines serving on in Helmand province, he was asked about a range of issues, including the future of the Corps — but not one about gays.</p><p>In the interview, he also offered an anecdote from the home front to make his point that the change has been taken in stride.</p><p>He said that at the annual ball in Washington this month celebrating the birth of the Marine Corps, a female Marine approached Amos' wife, Bonnie, and introduced herself and her lesbian partner.</p><p>"Bonnie just looked at them and said, 'Happy birthday ball. This is great. Nice to meet you,'" Amos said. "That is happening throughout the Marine Corps."</p><p>Looking back, Amos said he had no regrets about publicly opposing repeal during wartime. He said he had felt obliged, as commandant of the Corps, to set aside his personal opinions and represent the views of the 56 percent of combat Marines who told a Defense Department survey last year that repeal could make them less effective and cohesive in combat.</p><p>"I think I did exactly what I should have done," Amos said. "I've never looked back on it and said it (his concern) was misplaced."</p><p>Not only did Amos hear no talk about the repeal's impact during his visit to Afghanistan, the subject also did not arise when he fielded questions from Marines on board the USS Bataan warship in the Gulf of Aden on Saturday.</p><p>In Bahrain on Sunday, one Marine broached the topic gently. He asked Amos whether he planned to change the Marines' policy of leaving it to the discretion of local commanders to decide how to handle complaints about "homosexual remarks or actions." Amos said no.</p><p>He said he is aware of only one reported incident in Afghanistan thus far, and that turned out to be a false alarm. He said a blogger had written of a gay Marine being harassed by fellow Marines for his sexual orientation. In an ensuing investigation, the gay Marine denied he had been harassed.</p><p>A Defense Department spokeswoman, Cynthia O. Smith, said implementation of the repeal of the gay ban is proceeding smoothly across the military.</p><p>"We attribute this success to our comprehensive pre-repeal training program, combined with the continued close monitoring and enforcement of standards by our military leaders at all levels," Smith said.</p><p>In the months leading up to Congress' repeal, there were indications that the change might not be embraced so readily.</p><p>During a visit to a Marine combat outpost in southern Afghanistan in June, then-Defense Secretary Robert Gates was confronted by an enlisted Marine who clearly objected to the repeal. He told Gates that the Marine Corps had "a set of standards and values that is better than that of the civilian sector," and that repeal of the gay ban had "changed those values."</p><p>He asked Gates whether Marines who object to serving with gays would be allowed to opt out of their enlistment. Gates said no and predicted that if pre-repeal training was done right, "nothing will change" with regard to rules of behavior and discipline.</p><p>That Marine was not alone in making known his doubts about the wisdom of allowing gays to serve openly in uniform. In a survey of military members last year, 45 percent of Marines viewed repeal negatively in terms of how it could affect combat readiness, effectiveness and cohesion. Among those Marines who serve in combat roles, 56 percent expressed that view.</p><p>The issue split the military. Gates and other senior military leaders supported lifting the restrictions, pointing to a Pentagon study showing that most people in uniform don't object to serving with gays.</p><p>But Amos and his Army counterpart bucked their bosses to recommend against lifting the ban during wartime.</p><p>"I don't want to lose any Marines to the distraction," Amos said then.</p></p> Mon, 28 Nov 2011 20:58:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/marine-general-who-opposed-dont-ask-repeal-says-ending-ban-was-non-event-94400 Looking back on a year of progress for LGBT rights http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-10-28/looking-back-year-progres-lgbt-rights-93563 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/segment/photo/2011-October/2011-10-28/IMG_3171.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>October marked many occasions, including <a href="http://lgbthistorymonth.com/" target="_blank">LGBT History Month</a>. The past year saw lots of progress for gay rights--the right to marry and legalized civil unions in some states and the end of the military's policy "Don’t ask, don’t tell;" two examples of progress.</p><p>Individual milestones also occurred: Anthony Alfano came out as the first openly gay student body president at <a href="http://www.depaul.edu/Pages/default.aspx" target="_blank">DePaul University</a>, the largest Catholic university in the country. He said his decision to talk about his sexual orientation in a very public way was difficult, but he hoped it would a positive impact on others.</p><p>Alfano pointed to the "<a href="http://www.itgetsbetter.org/" target="_blank">It Gets Better"</a> project as a positive influence for people struggling with their sexuality. The project is the series of testimonials from gay and straight people encouraging teens that a brighter future is possible. <em>Eight Forty-Eight</em> checked the pulse of the projects’ impact and the state of gay rights with <a href="http://www.windycitytimes.com/" target="_blank"><em>Windy City Times</em></a> publisher Tracy Baim.<br> &nbsp;</p></p> Fri, 28 Oct 2011 14:12:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-10-28/looking-back-year-progres-lgbt-rights-93563 With repeal of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell,' an era ends http://www.wbez.org/story/2011-09-20/repeal-dont-ask-dont-tell-era-ends-92200 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/npr_story/photo/2011-September/2011-09-20/DADT_1.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The law that for almost 18 years has banned openly gay Americans from serving in the armed forces will be officially repealed Tuesday, nine months after Congress voted to end the Clinton-era edict.</p><p>President Obama signed the repeal into law last December, but its provisions required time for the Pentagon to prepare for the policy change, and for top military officials to "certify" the law's end.</p><p>Obama, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, and Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, signed off on the change in July, and set Tuesday as the end of the law that's long been known as "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" or DADT.</p><p>Repeal means that for the first time in America's military history, service members will be allowed to publicly reveal their sexual orientation without fear of reprisal.</p><p>Though a national Gallup poll taken after Congress repealed DADT showed that 67 percent of those surveyed supported repeal, resistance to the change still exists, on Capitol Hill and beyond.</p><p>Rep. Buck McKeon, the California Republican who chairs the House Armed Services Committee, and committee member Rep. Joe Wilson, a South Carolina Republican, sent a letter to the White House last week seeking to delay the repeal. They argued that the committee has not been adequately briefed about the new policy.</p><p>Pentagon press secretary George Little on Monday had a different message, however.</p><p>"No one should be left with the impression that we are unprepared. We are prepared for repeal," Little said. "The force is well aware that this is coming. They've had the training. It's been in the press for months. The September 20th day is not a mystery."</p><p>We spoke with two men who have been immersed in efforts to repeal the controversial measure:</p><p><strong>Aaron Belkin</strong> is a political science professor who as director of the five-year-old Palm Center at the Williams Institute at the University of California Los Angeles, School of Law. He helped lead research and analysis of gay Americans in the military, and the effect of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" on military capabilities.</p><p>His e-book, <em>How We Won: Progressive Lessons from the Repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell</em>, published Tuesday, details the Center's research, how it communicated with the military "from the inside," and its deliberative media strategy. Belkin believes it was an accumulation of evidence that finally brought the policy down.</p><p><strong>Air Force 1st Lt. Josh Seefried</strong> is now assigned to the joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst in New Jersey, co-founded OutServe, a Facebook-based online social media network network for gay Americans actively serving in the military.</p><p>Seefried, who until Tuesday publicly used the pseudonym J.D. Smith, has edited a collection of first-person essays by gay service members, <em>Our Time: Breaking the Silence of Don't Ask, Don't Tell. </em>Although the policy once made him feel "hopeless," Seefried now sees "substantial progress" in how the military's attitude toward gay service members has already changed.</p><p>Though there are repeal celebrations planned across the nation, Belkin says his own plans are mundane.</p><p>"I'm going to walk my dog, take a dance class and see if any of my friends want to have dinner," he says. "Just like this day is going to be a non-event for the military, as we've been saying all along, it's going to be a non-event for me."</p><p>"Emotionally and politically it's a big change for everybody. But on the ground, the way we live our lives, we're all just going to move on," he said.</p><p>Excerpts from the interviews:</p><p><strong>The Activist: Air Force Lt. Josh Seefried</strong></p><p><strong>On how the policy affected him: </strong></p><p>In every way, shape or form. I was blackmailed by an instructor at a technical training school after he found out I was gay. There's not a single day you do not think about the policy; it consumed every aspect of your life. You feel hopeless about the future.</p><p><strong>On how OutServe began: </strong></p><p>Before OutServe, we started Citizensforrepeal.com. We talked to gay service members we knew, got their stories, and posted them online. We realized we had this email data base, and so started a hidden social network on Facebook. When we got to about 250 people, I wrote an open letter in the <em>Denver Post</em> to Defense Secretary Robert Gates, saying that if they're talking about repealing DADT, they have to talk to gay service members. And the Pentagon reached out to us. The group just started to get bigger and bigger. It's now beyond Facebook — we have a magazine, and are sponsoring a conference next month in Las Vegas.</p><p><strong>On what OutServe has come to mean for gay service members: </strong></p><p>It has connected people. I think it gave people hope, and the knowledge that there were other people out there. Before, there was no way to connect with other gay people. We found out there were hundreds and thousand of others. We now want to encourage people to come out, and to create a respectful environment in the military. We have over 4,300 people connected around the globe, including in Afghanistan and Iraq.</p><p><strong>On how he measures progress: </strong></p><p>When we launched our first magazine earlier this year, it got a lot of attention, and the Pentagon called and said, 'what the hell are you doing?' When we launched the next edition, the Pentagon asked for copies. That's huge. They now distribute the magazine on Air Force and Army bases. That's substantial progress. Once people start thinking of our magazine as boring as a bowling magazine, we'll have made progress.</p><p><strong>On creating an "atmosphere of acceptance and respect" in the military: </strong></p><p>It's about discussion, it's about dialogue. If you don't discuss it, gay soldiers remain invisible. You have to come out of the closet. You have to talk to your friends and say, "I am gay." Tell your story. I don't think that gay service members need to do drastic political action. Just tell your stories.</p><p><strong>On his view of President Obama:</strong></p><p>I was there when the president signed the repeal legislation, and the one thing he did was address gay troops. He said, "I want to speak directly to the gay men and women currently serving in our military." That's big. That's the type of speech that no one else has ever done.</p><p><strong>On who deserves credit for the repeal within the military:</strong></p><p>Admiral Michael Mullen, hands down. [Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs, told Congress in early 2010 that it was time to repeal the policy.] He led on this. He said it comes down to integrity. I got to shake his hand, and I said that it was an honor to serve when he was leading. That man is a hero.</p><p><strong>The Strategist: Aaron Belkin</strong></p><p><strong>On combating the idea that gay service members would undermine "unit cohesion" needed for teamwork in the military: </strong></p><p>The key wasn't so much any one story, but the iteration and accumulation of evidence. You can't say it was just the Arab linguists who were drummed out under the policy. You can't say it was Britain's integration of gays and lesbians into its military. You can't say it was gay Americans fighting in two wars. It was all of that, repeated again and again, over 10 years. That's what brought it down.</p><p><strong>On his strategy of using facts, not framing:</strong></p><p>I looked at the way that anti-gay opponents were talking about our issues. A common thread: it seemed to me that their policy positions were not based on facts. I believe that we should not worry about slick messaging or framing, but tell the truth. Tell it loudly. Tell it again and again. If we believe it, we have to say it.</p><p><strong>On how he got into military academies to make his case: </strong></p><p>It was tough. About 10 years ago, I sent letters to every military university I could find, dozens of them, and asked if I could come at my own expense to talk about my research. Only one commandant responded and it was "no." The way I finally got in was to build personal relationships in other venues, build trust, and build slowly. I first was invited to West Point to talk to a few cadets. Eventually, I spoke to bigger audiences. I approached military universities on the basis of research, not activism or policy. The people I was dealing with, after all, were scholars. They knew DADT would end some day and wanted to start having a conversation, even back in 2003 and 2004.</p><p><strong>On what opened the door for repeal: </strong></p><p>It was a combination of factors. The executive order proposal reopened and energized the conversation. It generated heat on the White House to recommit to repeal legislation. Then you had activists like Army Lt. Dan Choi handcuffing himself to the White House fence, getting in people's faces. (Choi, a West Point graduate, was discharged after revealing his sexual orientation on MSNBC.) There was brilliant insider strategizing, pressure on Congress, and an explosion of grassroots organizations like OutServe. And, finally, you had litigation that sent a signal to everybody.</p><p><strong>On what he thinks of President Obama now: </strong></p><p>I criticized the president early in his administration for moving slowly on DADT. But with 3 1/2 years of hindsight, I give him credit. He was right to get the military's buy-in, and to move to repeal in a deliberative way.</p><div class="fullattribution">Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit <a href="http://www.npr.org/">http://www.npr.org/</a>.<img src="http://metrics.npr.org/b/ss/nprapidev/5/1316517139?&amp;gn=With+Repeal+Of++%27Don%27t+Ask%2C+Don%27t+Tell%2C%27+An+Era+Ends&amp;ev=event2&amp;ch=1001&amp;h1=National+Security,Politics,U.S.,Home+Page+Top+Stories,News&amp;c3=D%3Dgn&amp;v3=D%3Dgn&amp;c4=140605121&amp;c7=1001&amp;v7=D%3Dc7&amp;c18=1001&amp;v18=D%3Dc18&amp;c19=20110920&amp;v19=D%3Dc19&amp;c20=1&amp;v20=D%3Dc20&amp;c45=MDA0OTc2MjAwMDEyNjk0NDE4OTI2NmUwNQ001"></div></p> Tue, 20 Sep 2011 06:09:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/2011-09-20/repeal-dont-ask-dont-tell-era-ends-92200 Senate votes to repeal DADT; DREAM Act falls short http://www.wbez.org/story/dick-durbin/repeal-dadt-moves-forward-dream-act-falls-short <p><p><em>Updated at: 10:30 a.m. on 12/19/2010</em></p><p>The Senate passed legislation Saturday that would overturn the military's 17-year-old ban on openly gay troops - a policy known as &quot;don't ask, don't tell.&quot;<br />&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;<br />The final vote of 65-31 moves the bill to President Barack Obama, who says he'll sign it into law.</p><p>Both of Illinois' U.S. Senators, Democrat Dick Durbin and Republican Mark Kirk, voted in favor of repealing Don't Ask, Don't Tell.</p><p>In a statement, Kirk said, &quot;I very carefully read the Joint Chiefs of Staff report and met at length with Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Gary Roughead. Following their exhaustive and considered military judgment, I&nbsp;support the Joint Chief's recommendation to implement the repeal of the current policy once the battle effectiveness of the forces is certified and proper preparations are complete.&quot;<br />&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;<br />Republicans had blocked previous votes on the bill on procedural grounds. But with a major tax bill finished and a Pentagon study released in favor of repealing the ban, eight Republicans joined 55 Democrats and two independents in supporting the bill.<br /><br />Meanwhile, Senate Republicans blocked a bill to grant hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants brought to the United States as children a chance to gain legal status if they enroll in college or join the military.<br />&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;<br />Sponsors of what they call the DREAM Act needed 60 Senate votes for it, but fell five short. The House passed the bill last week.<br /><br />It was a last-ditch effort to enact it before it Republicans take control of the House from Democrats in January.<br />&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;<br />Immigrant advocates viewed the measure as a step toward providing a path to legal status for up to 12 million illegal immigrants by focusing on the most sympathetic among them first. Critics called it a back-door grant of amnesty that would encourage more illegal immigration.</p><p>Kirk joined a Republican filibuster to block the DREAM Act, legislation which is strongly supported by Durbin, the bill's chief proponent.</p></p> Sat, 18 Dec 2010 17:11:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/dick-durbin/repeal-dadt-moves-forward-dream-act-falls-short Biggert joins Illinois Democrats to repeal Don't Ask, Don't Tell http://www.wbez.org/story/news/politics/biggert-joins-illinois-democrats-repeal-dont-ask-dont-tell <p><p>The bill to repeal the Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy has passed in the U.S. House of Representatives. The plan would allow gays to serve openly in the military.<br /><br />Illinois Representative Judy Biggert was one of only 15 Republicans in the House to vote in favor of the repeal. She was the only Illinois Republican to do so.<br /><br />Biggert said she didn't look at the measure as a partisan issue.<br /><br />&quot;I think that our commanders recommended repealing Don't Ask, Don't Tell because it was the right thing to do. Our goal should be to put the best soldiers possible in the field, and not just the best white soldiers or straight soldiers or brown eyed soldiers, but the best soldiers period,&quot; Biggert said.<br /><br />Fifteen House Democrats voted against the measure, but all Illinois Democrats voted with the party in support of the repeal.<br /><br />The bill still has yet to be called up for a vote in the Senate.</p></p> Thu, 16 Dec 2010 20:36:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/news/politics/biggert-joins-illinois-democrats-repeal-dont-ask-dont-tell Kirk joins party to block vote, DADT most likely dead http://www.wbez.org/blog/achy-obejas/kirk-joins-party-block-vote-dadt-most-likely-dead <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/KIRK6_0.jpg" alt="" /><p><p style="text-align: center;"><img style="width: 474px; height: 317px;" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2010-December/2010-12-09/KIRK6.jpg" alt="" title="" /></p><p>The senate cloture vote on the defense authorization bill went down this afternoon, 57 to 40, largely along party lines, most likely killing any hope of passing repeal of Don&rsquo;t Ask, Don&rsquo;t Tell in this session, and probably for years, given the incoming Republican majority in the House of Representatives.</p><p>Kate Dickens, spokesperson for Illinois Sen. Mark Kirk, was quick to point out that the vote itself was not &ldquo;against DADT, it is a procedural vote to consider the defense authorization bill.&rdquo;</p> <p class="MsoNormal" style=""><span style="">Although Kirk was one of the GOP votes that DADT supporters were hoping for, he clarified his position just before the cloture vote.</span></p> <p class="MsoNormal" style="">&ldquo;The Senate&rsquo;s top priority should be to prevent a large tax increase from hitting families and small business employers on January 1st,&rdquo; Kirk said. &ldquo;I promised the people of Illinois that job one would be jobs.&nbsp;I support the president&rsquo;s proposal and will vote today to ensure the bipartisan tax bill takes precedence before considering non-economic legislation, including items I support like the 9/11 victims health bill.&rdquo;</p><p class="MsoNormal" style=""><span style=""><br /></span>Kirk joined all GOP senators but Susan Collins of Maine to vote no on the defense cloture. Newly elected West Virginia Sen. Joe Machin was the sole Dem to vote no. Collins has been in negotiations with Dem leaders for weeks, and gave an impassioned and angry speech before the vote that suggested she&rsquo;d vote no, then came down as a yay. Sen. Blanche LIncoln of Arkansas, a Democrat, came in after the vote was taken and declared that, had she been present, she would have voted for repeal.</p> <p class="MsoNormal">Republicans Scott Brown of Massachusetts and Alaska&rsquo;s Lisa Murkowski are on record in favor of repeal but voted against cloture, and in effect against DADT, in support of the Republican pledge to not take up any legislation until the tax bill, set to expire Dec. 31, is settled. </p> <p class="MsoNormal">The Democratic caucus rejected the president&rsquo;s tax compromise earlier today, sending everything back to square one.&nbsp;If the defense authorization bill isn&rsquo;t resurrected in some way before the end of this lame duck session, it&rsquo;ll be the first time in 48 years that the military is not funded.</p><p class="MsoNormal">Sen. Mark Udall from Colorado, a Democrat, suggested immediately after the cloture vote that the senate needed to stay in session to resolve these issues, perhaps past the holidays. He was also the first to to publicly suggest a stand alone version of DADT repeal, which Connecticut independent Joe Lieberman, the DADT's man on the senate floor, has now said is a possibility.</p><p class="MsoNormal">If the&nbsp;DADT repeal stands alone and Democrats hold the line, that would be a total of 58 votes (assuming everyone's present). With Murkowski, who can do anything she wants given the particularities of her re-election, and Brown, who needs to vote yay for re-election in gay friendly Massachusetts, the bill would have all the votes it needs. Collins, who voted for it, would likely remain in the yay column (though those Maine gals are, er, a tad unpredictable).</p><p class="MsoNormal">Meaning that KIrk's vote wouldn't be necessary. Except perhaps to Kirk, back home in moderate Illinois. </p><p class="MsoNormal"><em>(photo by Bill Healy)</em></p><input type="hidden" id="gwProxy"><!--Session data--></input><input type="hidden" id="jsProxy" onclick="if(typeof(jsCall)=='function'){jsCall();}else{setTimeout('jsCall()',500);}" /><div id="refHTML">&nbsp;</div></p> Thu, 09 Dec 2010 21:30:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blog/achy-obejas/kirk-joins-party-block-vote-dadt-most-likely-dead DADT: What will Kirk do? http://www.wbez.org/blog/achy-obejas/dadt-what-will-kirk-do <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/KIRK2.jpg" alt="" /><p><p style="text-align: center;"><img title="" alt="" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2010-December/2010-12-08/KIRK2.jpg" style="width: 476px; height: 318px;" /></p><p><em>UPDATED Wednesday, December 8, 2010 at 5:45pm.</em>&nbsp; A vote on Don't Ask Don't Tell is unlikely to happen tonight.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>Senate Majority leader Harry Reid has called for a vote on the repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell after 6 o'clock tonight, meaning it's do or die for the legislation. Though this is a procedural vote, if DADT doesn't get past this hurdle, the legislation is likely dead in the water for years.</p><p>For Illinois Republican Senator Mark Kirk, this isa chance to show his true colors. As a congressman, Kirk said no to DADT. It was, perhaps, a nod at the conservatives he had to win over in his own party in order to be taken seriously as a primary candidate. That vote was considered both cowardly and opportunistic by many because it seemed contrary to Kirk&rsquo;s more moderate stances.</p><p>But from the moment he became the GOP standard bearer, Kirk has been signaling openness. As late as a week ago, he was saying he was going to read &ldquo;every page&rdquo; of the Pentagon&rsquo;s DADT study in order to make up his mind. The study makes clear that the rank and file doesn&rsquo;t think repealing DADT is much of a big deal.</p><p>Though the White House, which claims 58 Dem votes in hand for repeal, has him listed as undecided as of this afternoon, a source in Senator Joe Lieberman&rsquo;s office tells me Kirk&rsquo;s is one of the 60 votes the Connecticut independent is counting on for repeal. The Huffington Post is currently reporting that Kirk is actually reading the Pentagon study and, according to an anonymous staffer, that calls to his office heavily favor repeal of DADT.</p><p>In the past, Kirk has been one of the few Republicans to get an overall decent rating from the Human Rights Campaign: 75 percent. In spite of being a big Bush supporter, Kirk had the fortitude to oppose a constitutional amendment banning same sex marriage and supported ending job discrimination based on sexual orientation. His ex-wife and still close friend, Kimberly Vertolli, a former Naval intelligence officer, is a passionate supporter of repealing DADT.</p><p>Like all GOPers in Congress, Kirk signed a letter last week committing to resolve the current tax issues and fund the federal government before tackling anything else, including both the DREAM Act and DADT. DADT&nbsp;is part of the defense authorization bill.</p><p>&quot;Congress's top priority should be to prevent a large tax increase from hitting families and small business employers on January 1st,&quot; said Kirk spokesperson Kate Dickens. &quot;Senator Kirk supports the president's bipartisan tax bill and very modest legislation to continue funding the government. These two measures should take precedence before considering non-economic legislation, including items Senator Kirk's supports like the 9/11 victims health bill.&quot;</p><p><span style="color: rgb(31, 73, 125);"><div id="refHTML">What will Kirk do? I&rsquo;m guessing he&rsquo;ll split the difference on these votes: Insist on border security before any kind of amnesty to rationalize a no vote on the DREAM Act and, like various GOPers who are splitting from the party on DADT (Lynne Cheney has been out there beating the drum for repeal), Kirk&rsquo;s gonna go yay on DADT. Politically, it's what makes the most sense -- he goes along with the party on an issue that is not, arguably, urgent in Illinois while signaling some independence with a yes on DADT&nbsp;repeal.</div></span></p><p>Besides, if his constitutents are supporting repeal, there's not much to lose on the homefront.</p><p>UPDATE: Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski, who doesn't owe much to her caucasing party after her bruising re-election fight, has released a statement in support of repealing DADT, which could help make Kirk's decision easier. Murkowski was a previous no vote who'd moved to unsure.</p><p>According to Murkowski: &quot;America is the loser when it denies those who are willing to make the great sacrifices demanded of our men and women in uniform the opportunity do so on grounds of sexual orientation. I agree with Defense Secretary Gates' view that the military can successfully implement a repeal of the 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' law provided that proper preparations are implemented.&quot;</p><p><em>(above photo by Bill Healy)</em></p><p>&nbsp;</p><input type="hidden" id="gwProxy" /><!--Session data--><input type="hidden" onclick="if(typeof(jsCall)=='function'){jsCall();}else{setTimeout('jsCall()',500);}" id="jsProxy" /><div id="refHTML">&nbsp;</div><input type="hidden" id="gwProxy" /><!--Session data--><input type="hidden" id="jsProxy" onclick="if(typeof(jsCall)=='function'){jsCall();}else{setTimeout('jsCall()',500);}" /><div id="refHTML">&nbsp;</div><input type="hidden" id="gwProxy" /><!--Session data--><input type="hidden" id="jsProxy" onclick="if(typeof(jsCall)=='function'){jsCall();}else{setTimeout('jsCall()',500);}" /><div id="refHTML">&nbsp;</div><input type="hidden" id="gwProxy" /><!--Session data--><input type="hidden" onclick="if(typeof(jsCall)=='function'){jsCall();}else{setTimeout('jsCall()',500);}" id="jsProxy" /><div id="refHTML">&nbsp;</div><input type="hidden" id="gwProxy" /><!--Session data--><input type="hidden" id="jsProxy" onclick="if(typeof(jsCall)=='function'){jsCall();}else{setTimeout('jsCall()',500);}" /><div id="refHTML">&nbsp;</div><input type="hidden" id="gwProxy" /><!--Session data--><input type="hidden" onclick="if(typeof(jsCall)=='function'){jsCall();}else{setTimeout('jsCall()',500);}" id="jsProxy" /><div id="refHTML">&nbsp;</div><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Wed, 08 Dec 2010 20:23:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blog/achy-obejas/dadt-what-will-kirk-do Report on 'don’t Ask, don’t tell' effects released http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/report-don%E2%80%99t-ask-don%E2%80%99t-tell-effects-released <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/Gays_Military_Lea_s640x535_0.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Tuesday the U.S. Department of Defense released its long-awaited <a target="_blank" href="http://www.defense.gov/home/features/2010/0610_gatesdadt/">study</a> on the impact of repealing the military policy &quot;don&rsquo;t ask, don&rsquo;t tell.&quot; The goal of the report was to understand how allowing openly gay soldiers to serve would affect the military, particularly in terms of its readiness for combat.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>The group tasked with the report surveyed active and former members, both gay and straight. Over two-thirds of respondents said lifting the ban would have positive, mixed or no effect on the military.</p><p>To analyze the results and what the report means moving forward, Eight Forty-Eight spoke to <a target="_blank" href="http://www.history.northwestern.edu/people/lynn.html">John Lynn</a>. Lynn is a distinguished professor of military history at Northwestern University.</p></p> Wed, 01 Dec 2010 13:53:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/report-don%E2%80%99t-ask-don%E2%80%99t-tell-effects-released "Don't Ask, Don't Tell": Don't even think it'll pass in lame duck session http://www.wbez.org/blog/achy-obejas/dont-ask-dont-tell-dont-even-think-itll-pass-lame-duck-session <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/obama_dont_ask_dont_tell_0.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>As I write this, Congress is gearing to come back to work for its lame duck session &ndash; a last chance Texaco before the new, more conservative class takes over as midterm victors.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><img width="500" height="308" alt="" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/sites/default/files/obama_dont_ask_dont_tell.jpg" /></p><p>And Harry Reid, Democratic majority leader on his last hurrah, has already indicated that his top priority bills are a stopgap economic measure and the Bush tax cuts, which everyone suddenly seems to agree on in principle but which no doubt will consume the entire two weeks before Thanksgiving in hashing out just exactly how much they disagree in fact.</p><p>Off that legislative list? The defense budget authorization bill. And even if it were to somehow miraculously re-appear on the agenda, it&rsquo;s quite likely it would be without the amendment to repeal &quot;Don&rsquo;t Ask, Don&rsquo;t Tell,&quot; the odious policy which bars openly gay people, no matter how qualified or committed, from serving in the U.S. military.</p><p>Jason Linkins at the <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/11/08/dems-to-cave-on-dadt-repe_n_780371.html">Huffington Post</a> detailed the complete Democratic cave-in on the issue.</p><p>In the last few days, between his mojo-less dance in India and the visit to his childhood home in Indonesia, the mainstream media has let President Obama go on the record with how much he and his administration oppose any efforts to stop repeal of DADT. You&rsquo;ll notice no one actually asks the president what he plans to do about it.</p><p>Is there anybody left that really thinks Obama gives a crap about queer people? Or that, if he did, he could actually take decisive action?</p><p>Because I, for one, am just having an Alice-in-Wonderland hard time reconciling how committed Barack says he is to our civil rights with the obstinate legal strategy he insists on using to defend DADT in the courts and which he arrogantly refuses to explain. (Yeah, I know he says it&rsquo;s Congress who should overturn DADT &ndash; can we hear why? Can somebody from the administration tell us how defending DADT is really all about killing it?)</p><p>And is there anybody who thinks the GOPers, particularly the rabidly anti-gay new members of Congress and their emboldened brethren, care one whit about the president&rsquo;s position?</p><p>Of course not. And it&rsquo;s not just because they Republicans are still high from &ldquo;shellacking&rdquo; the president and the Dems. It&rsquo;s because Obama has proven to be the easiest commander-in-chief to bring to his knees, even on signature legislation such as healthcare. Does anyone believe that even the pale version of healthcare that passed would have ever gotten a presidential signature without Nancy Pelosi? Hell no.</p><p>Ain&rsquo;t nobody even a little bit scared of Barack, within or without his party.</p><p>Cobble this sad little fact with the Republicans&rsquo; almost completely unanswered use of same sex marriage as a scare tactic for the last 20+ years, and it seems a good guess that, unless pro-gay Democratic congressmen want to do some freelance heavy lifting, DADT is dead in the water.</p></p> Wed, 10 Nov 2010 14:15:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blog/achy-obejas/dont-ask-dont-tell-dont-even-think-itll-pass-lame-duck-session Film shows human side of 'don’t ask, don’t tell' debate http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/film-shows-human-side-don%E2%80%99t-ask-don%E2%80%99t-tell-debate <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/marine story movie resize.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Last week&rsquo;s election results cast doubt on what once seemed close to a mission accomplished: The repeal of &quot;don&rsquo;t ask, don&rsquo;t tell.&quot;<br /><br />The military policy bans gay soldiers from serving openly. Since taking office, President Obama has repeatedly called for its repeal but under a new Congress that&rsquo;s unlikely to happen anytime soon.</p><p>A new film attempts to take the debate over &quot;don&rsquo;t ask, don&rsquo;t tell.&quot; out of the political arena and into everyday life. &quot;<a href="http://www.amarinestorymovie.com/#" target="_blank">A Marine Story</a>&quot; follows Alexandra Everett as she returns home after being discharged under the policy.</p><p>The film screens tonight as part of <a target="_blank" href="http://www.reelingfilmfestival.org/">Reeling: The Chicago Lesbian &amp; Gay International Film Festival</a>. The protagonist is played by <a target="_blank" href="http://www.dreyaweber.com/bio.html">Dreya Weber</a>. She and her husband, the film&rsquo;s director, <a target="_blank" href="http://www.nedfarr.com/">Ned Farr</a>, joined Eight Forty-Eight to discuss the film and its commentary on the controversial policy.</p></p> Tue, 09 Nov 2010 15:19:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/film-shows-human-side-don%E2%80%99t-ask-don%E2%80%99t-tell-debate