Political Activism: DADT and ENDA

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    Oct 28, 2009 3:50 PM GMT
    Lt. Col. Victor Fehrenbach, a respected, eighteen year F-15 pilot and winner of nine air medals including one for heroism, was one of two pilots first called upon to secure the skies above New York on 9-11. Later, when he was confronted by a commander about his sexuality, rather than lie, he told the truth. The result? He was kicked out of the military just two years shy of earning his retirement.

    Recent investigative news reports by CNN and NBC warn that our strained military is returning soldiers with known mental health and chemical dependency problems to combat zones. So, if you’re a soldier with a documented drug problem or mental health issue, you may be placed in situations affecting the safety of your unit. If you are gay or bisexual soldier, you’re such a threat to the safety of your unit, you will be discharged at the cost of approximately $20,000. We’ll add this cost to the 190 million dollars the Government Accountability Office estimates American taxpayers have spent so far to remove people like you since Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell was implemented by our Congress in 1994. You will be discharged even if you have “mission critical,” training as a combat engineer, pilot or Arabic speaking linguist! You will be added to the growing list of 13,000 service men and women whose careers have been destroyed not because of dereliction of duty or cowardice, but because of the way you are oriented sexually. Now if you hide or lie about your sexuality, you can serve. If you tell the truth, you forfeit your career. Sound fair?

    Gay, lesbian, and bisexual service men and woman must adhere to the same code of conduct as it relates to sexual ethics and harassment as heterosexual personnel. They are professional soldiers who desire to get along with and earn the respect of members of their unit. Recent surveys of service men and women indicate that 73% are comfortable being around gays and lesbians. One in four soldiers serving in Iraq and Afghanistan already know of someone in their unit who is gay. The policy is not enforced uniformly because many straight service men and women don’t report their suspicions to their commanding officers because they respect the commitment, hard work, and courage demonstrated by those they know or suspect are gay. Heck, they even are friends with some of them!

    The problem is, if someone in the service is homophobic or has an axe to grind, he or she can backstab or blackmail someone who is gay because there is a policy which places gay, lesbian, and bisexual service men and women in a very vulnerable, inhospitable position. This is, unfortunately, what happened to Fehrenbach.

    The DODT policy is a symptom of the pervasive heterosexism that still exists in America. It is rooted in the belief held by some people that heterosexuals are somehow superior to homosexuals. If you want to be married legally, go for it! You just need to be straight. If you want to adopt, despite the fact there are 500,000 children in the child welfare system waiting to be adopted, you have to be heterosexual. If you want to serve your country, great, just be sure you are heterosexual. If you want to work without fear of losing your job or unfair treatment in the workplace, as long as you are heterosexual and don’t live in one of 29 states, you can feel secure in your job.

    Or, you can simply lie about your sexuality.

    For a growing number of heterosexual and GLBT Americans, this is unacceptable. That is why we all need to call and write those in Congress to pass the (ENDA) Employment Non-Discrimination Act HR 3017 and the Military Readiness Enhancement Act (MREA), which ends DADT. Excluding GLBT Americans from basic civil and employment non-discrimination policies is unfair, unjust, and simply un-American.

    We are at a critical point in history as a GLBT community. We have a sympathetic congress and president, we need to write our newspapers, donate to organizations like Equality Across America and the Human Righs Campaign, and volunteer at GLBT advocacy organizations. A lack of action now only hurts all of us.

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    Oct 28, 2009 10:13 PM GMT
    Well if ever there is a war and you don't want to go all you have to do is say you are gay.

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    Oct 29, 2009 5:16 AM GMT
    Punchy !!! thank you very much for this well written and informative topic. I've done some writing to my congressmen and senator, but these examples give me reason to do some more.
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    Oct 29, 2009 4:50 PM GMT
    Feel free to use anything that I have written in your letters to the newspapers in your area and to your congressmen. Also-I sent this letter to ten newspapers and four have responded so far with plans to print it!!!!