The Gay Agenda

Jaan Williams, who was a huge part of the No on 8 campaign, recently posted what you might call The Gay Agenda (or actually the GLBT agenda) on Twitter. Rather than retweet it (since it's several tweets long) I thought I would re-post it here. So here it is.
Marriage equality is great; it's just not the be all end all of our rights. We still need employment protections, hate crimes protections. We need to repeal adoption bans, work for second parent adoptions. We need anti-bullying laws, we need protection from discrimination in accommodations and housing, we need healthcare reform and educated providers. We need immigration rights (w/other CIR), a repeal of DADT, repeal of DOMA. We need a repeal of the APA's definition of gender identity. We need reform in the way identity documents are used, created and maintained. We need to stop no-match letters coming from social security. We need better education and prevention on same sex/queer partner abuse. We need awareness and education for EMS staff about trans people. We need more AIDS prevention/living w/AIDS programs in general and in communities of color. We need broader recognition of all family structures. I could go on and that is the point. I care passionately about the right to marry. I spent 6 months working on the No on 8 campaign. We can just not believe for 1 minute, regardless of what happens on Tuesday, that marriage is our only fight and that it is only in California.


Plans for summer

Just wanted to take a second and lay out some plans for the summer before I start my internship on Tuesday. Whether I actually stick to all of these, well, we'll see.
  • Get feedback. In my last two internships I didn't ask for feedback very often. I guess that's probably more typical for the real world, but what I'm used to is school where every single assignment has a grade associated with it, so you know exactly what you did right, what you did wrong, and how to improve for the next assignment. So this time, I want to try to check in with someone as often as possible, to get some feedback. This is my only internship-related plan so far. I'll probably add more once I get there.
  • Read some books. Like a lot of people, I don't read enough. I mean, I read a lot of blogs and websites and stuff, but that doesn't really count. So I'm going to try to read some actual books this summer. Probably starting with the one Andy gave me that I never got through.
  • Continue the conversation. A few weeks ago, I tried to start a conversation with the handful of people I know who voted yes on prop 8. It went well, but I didn't have enough time to devote to the conversation. Regardless of the decision this Tuesday, I want to continue to talk to them, understand their reservations about same-sex marriage, and debunk any misunderstandings they have about the situation.
  • Do some coding. Of course I'll probably be doing a bunch of coding at my internship, but if I have time, I'd like to do some little project of my own as well. I don't know what it would be... just something fun. Maybe learn a new obscure language.
  • Fun stuff. Besides hanging out with band people at orientation gigs, I'll probably try to spend some time at the beach, in West Hollywood, and of course Catalina and Lake Tahoe. This is my last summer before graduation so it has to be fun!


How to Repeal "Don't Ask Don't Tell"

I've been reading the new study that just came out from the Palm Center at UCSB, entitled How to Repeal "Don't Ask Don't Tell".

What many people probably believe, and what I believed until recently, is that since DADT was created by Congress, it would take an act of Congress to eliminate it. Such an act already exists, the Military Readiness Enhancement Act, first introduced in 2005, although I think the Let the Gays Serve Their Country If They Want To, For God's Sake. Don't You Know We're At War Right Now?! Act might be a more appropriate name. In any case, as the study points out, many people in Congress don't want to do anything without consulting with military leaders first. Military leaders don't necessarily want to do anything either. Obama wants to do something but knows that it might be unpopular with many people. Basically, everyone is waiting for someone else to act.

But what I didn't realize until just now, is that Obama can effectively stop this ridiculous policy immediately if he wants to. He can tell the military to stop investigating whether people are gay. (In the recent case of Lt. Dan Choi, there wasn't much of an "investigation" -- he came out willingly on national television). This might be somewhat unpopular because it could come across as circumventing the laws that Congress has created, instead of getting them repealed via the appropriate channels.

But there is something else he can do, even for Lt. Choi, and the thousands of other soldiers who are already known to the military to be gay. According to a law passed after the Vietnam War, "the President may suspend any provision of law relating to promotion, retirement, or separation applicable to any member of the armed forces who the President determines is essential to the national security of the United States." (pg. 11 of the study) Typically, this is used to force people to stay on duty after their normal term of service ends. (The "stop loss" policy.) In this case, it would be used to keep someone in the military who actually wants to serve. This doesn't provide a long-term solution, but maybe after a few months of gays serving openly, if the sky doesn't fall and the world doesn't end, Congress will understand that this is the right thing to do.

Hm, wasn't I thinking almost this exact thought, a few months ago? Oh, right. "Now that gay couples actually have gotten married in this very state," I said, "surely people will see that these marriages had no effect on them, and will live and let live." Ugh.

Personally, I think it would be better if the change comes from Congress, but it's clear that the president needs to act quickly and assertively, either to get the Congress to step up, or to simply make it happen directly. Otherwise, we'll be stuck with this same dangerous, stupid, offensive policy for years and years. He needs to just be the guy that goes, "Okay. This is what we're doing."

Lt. Choi's new organization, Knights Out is asking everyone to call the White House today and "flood the switchboards" to ask the President to repeal this law. They offer a sample script but if you can just speak honestly about your opinion of this policy, I think that would send a stronger message. If you've read this far, I'd say you're probably well-informed enough to do that. 202-456-1111. Please call and express your support for ending this ban. This is not a "gay issue," this is a "let's treat everyone equally" issue.

I'll finish up this post with a quick quote I found in the study, and to keep this blog from getting too serious, a video from The Onion.

“Equal and just treatment of all personnel exerts direct and favorable influence on morale, discipline, and command authority. Since these key factors contribute to mission effectiveness, efforts to ensure equal treatment are directly related to the primary mission.”
(Department of the Army. (1973). Improving race relations in the Army: Handbook for leaders. Washington, DC (Pamphlet Number 600-16), page 2.

'Gays Too Precious To Risk In Combat,' Says General