Thursday, December 30, 2010

Reggie Bush Tweets About "No Homo"

adidas miCoach Reggie BushImage by adifansnet via Flickr

Today on Twitter Running Back for the New Orleans Saints, Reggie Bush sent the following tweet.

Now I follow Reggie and I responded yes. To me it is a way someone would show they didn't want to be thought of as gay. This means they are making a negative connection to being gay. So to me it would be offensive. Same as saying, "That's so gay."

But I was curious to see where this would go. So I monitored the situation. Check out some of the responses Reggie received.

The above clips are just a small sampling of the hundreds of response he received. I was impressed with how many said yes it was. There were also the standard amount that called him gay for asking. Then there were those that didn't have any issue with it at all.

Three hours later Reggie posted on Twitter again discussing the topic after put it on their site. Here is what Reggie said.

I had no issue with Reggie asking the question. I thought it was not the smartest move as a public figure to ask about the offensiveness of something on such a public forum. After all, isn't that how TMZ makes their money. Famous people doing things publicly that they can exploit and make bigger than it needs to be.

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Behind the Scenes Video of Don't Ask, Don't Tell Repeal Signing

President Obama signing DADT repeal billImage by Third Way via Flickr

The White House shows again how proud President Obama is to have signed the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell. The video includes interviews with Rep. Patrick Murphy, who championed the bill in the House and Captain Jonathan Hopkins, who was discharged under Don't Ask, Don't Tell.

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Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Andrew Tobias Lists Accomplishments of Administration and Congress

Andrew TobiasImage via WikipediaAndrew Tobias, Treasurer of the Democratic National Committee, put out a list of accomplishments made by President Obama earlier this year. He just revised the list to cover the first two years of the Obama administration and Congress. Tobias, an openly gay man has been trying to make the case to the LGBT community to continue to give it's time, money and support to both Obama and the Democratic party. This has been more difficult than Tobias may have guessed. The LGBT community has been one of the most vocal on the left about not seeing the progress being made toward equality. Many have called for the community to stop giving to the Democratic part and some have gone as far as saying not to vote for Dems.

You can see Tobias' updated list in full here at but I am going to go through some of the highlights here.

Tobias divided the accomplishments into three sections. The first one covered are the federal legislations signed into law. There are three things listed - signing of Hate Crimes Prevention Act, signing of Repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell and the signing of the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Treatment Extension Act. While our community was hoping to get the Employment Non-Discrimination Act passed and the Defense of Marriage Act overturned let's be real. No one knew the Republicans were going to put the government at a standstill. Not to mention that the country was begging for the economy to be addressed and health care reform took FOREVER! To get Hate Crimes, a 10 project, and the repeal of DADT, a 17 year project, is impressive in my opinion. Just because we have a President that will sign legislation we want doesn't mean he can put it on his desk himself.

In the second section Tobias discusses the policies that were changed. I am going to quote a few of my top choices out of the 18 he has listed.
  • Extended benefits to same-sex partners of federal employees in 2009 and, further in 2010
  • Banned job discrimination based on gender identity throughout the Federal government (the nation's largest employer)
  • Instructed HHS to require any hospital receiving Medicare or Medicaid funds (virtually all hospitals) to allow LGBT visitation rights
  • Lifted the HIV Entry Ban effective January 2010
As we have seen the private sector is key to making changes for equality. Businesses providing benefits and having non-discrimination policies are one of the leading factors toward passing ENDA. Now the nation's largest employer has policies in place that many of the fortune 500 companies have. These policy changes are an example of Obama using his power to help set the tone of how he expects things to run. This sends a message to Congress that he would like all LGBT Americans to have these same rights. While losing the House of Representatives to the Republicans looks like we will not be getting any LGBT bills passed in the next two years we can hope the 2012 Presidential election will bring the Dems back into power. These policy changes along with continuous education of elected officials and the American people will help us pass ENDA in Obama's second term.

The final section Tobias calls Respect and Inclusion. While this section discusses 27 ways Obama has included the LGBT community in various awards, speeches and appointees there are a few things to highlight.

  • Hired more openly LGBT officials in its first two years -- more than 150, including more than 20 "Senate-confirmables" -- than any previous administration hired in four years or eight
  • Appointed Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan, instead of conservatives who would have tilted the Court even further to the right and virtually doomed our rights for a generation.
  • Named open transgender appointees (the first President ever to do so)
  • Dispatched the Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to call on the Senate to repeal Don't Ask / Don't Tell
  • Appointed long-time equality champion Chai Feldblum one of the four Commissioners of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
The last one is the one I want to comment on as it is again a sign of Obama planning ahead for the fight on ENDA. The appointment of Chai Feldblum will be an asset when we are able to move this issue forward. Obama has publicly stated multiple times he wants to see ENDA pass. This appointment is another sign of that commitment.

We can argue all we want about whether the LGBT community got everything it could in the last two years. If we think we could have gotten more then we must examine where the failures were and make adjustments for the next time. Let's face it, the LGBT community is more used to playing defense than it is offense. We may not have brought our 'A' game but I believe we got a lot in the last two years. I am excited to see what could happen in the next two, even with a Republican controlled House. There is work that can be done in the states to move Marriage Equality forward so when the time comes we will be ready to overturn DOMA. There is a lot of education that can be done on ENDA both in Congress and in the states. Also, we must concentrate on making sure there are candidates worth voting for in 2012 that will help us with ENDA and Marriage Equality.

These two years will set up the Presidential race. What will our list of accomplishments look like from now until the 2012 election? Will we have a list as long of work we as a community did to strengthen our position to play offense? Or will our community continue to play armchair quarterback and just complain after the fact?

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Sunday, December 26, 2010

I'm Not Gay Anymore

Ahhh the holidays. What a wonderful time. Lots of food, good cheer and family. This year was no different. However, one extra family member came to visit that I hadn't seen in about five years. It was my cousin Matthew. Ok, that's not his real name but the rest of the story is true. Matt and I used to be close but then something happened and now we never talk.

Growing up Matt and I weren't very close. I was much closer with his brother. However, Matt joined the military and was in the first gulf war when I was in college. I wrote to him all the time and we developed a strong relationship. When he came back to the states we continued to develop our relationship through letters and by phone. Matt was always considered a little aloof and he didn't visit the family much.

It was during this time that I learned Matt had dated men. Being in the military he was torn. He really enjoyed his career as an officer and wanted to continue. However, he felt that to continue to get promotions he needed to be married. This struggle eventually led to him leaving the military. He settled down and eventually was in a committed relationship with a man. During this time I had also come out. While he did all of this away from the family I came out and shared my life openly with the family. He was always amazed at my openness and how the family had received it. Even knowing how accepting the family his interactions still didn't change.

My partner at the time and I visited him and his partner. Matt was happy and enjoying life. While I am not sure they had really developed a strong community of gay friends they seemed to enjoy their life. They didn't live in a particularly LGBT friendly part of the country so I think I attributed some of the closeted behavior as a protection mechanism. Looking back it could have been more than that. Could have been Matt still not fully accepting his sexuality.

Finally, Matt came home and brought his partner with him. While he kept the family interactions to a minimum everyone met his partner and to his surprise no heads exploded. We spent some additional time together and Matt and his partner seemed happy and were very open. Then a couple of years later everything changed.

Matt told me he and his partner broke up and it didn't end well. I was sorry things had ended so badly but I wasn't prepared for what would happen next. After some time passed I learned Matt was dating a woman. Not a biggie, sexuality can be fluid and Matt had gone back and forth with his relationships before. However, they were going to get married. Needless to say I wanted to hear more.

After our call I was very disappointed. My disappointment had nothing to do with which team he was playing for. What upset me was that she didn't know anything about his past. His response was, "I don't ask about her past and she doesn't ask about mine." That might work for some people but for me, if I am going to share my life with someone I want them to know the whole me. To me it was a type of lying. The woman is very religious and he believes would not have been ok with his past. I said, "Well maybe you should wait for someone who accepts you for who you are and not who they think you are." He said it was fine and he was happy. After a long discussion I let it go. Clearly having a deep conversation with his soon to be wife was not going to happen.

Let's just say I did not attend the wedding.

One night I got a call from Matt. He had clearly been drinking and his wife was out. Our conversation basically was him convincing himself he was happy and could keep his commitment of 30 years to her. Yes that's right 30 years. They set a time limit. I know it just keeps getting weirder. That was the last conversation we had. Until two days ago - Christmas Eve.

Matt and his wife made the trip to visit with family for the holidays. Let's just say it was the most awkward gathering I could remember. When Jess and I arrived with our son I thought everyone was outside. There was absolutely no conversation. What I found was everyone in a room sitting and looking at each other. OMG this was going to be a long night! I went around the room greeting everyone and introduced Jess and our little man to Matt and his wife. Then we made a beeline for the kitchen where we giggled with Matt's brother's wife, the hostess about getting this night over quickly.

At the end of the night Matt and his wife left and we had a couple of minutes with Matt's brother's family and my parents. We joked about how that couldn't have been more uncomfortable. My mom said she was surprised I didn't ask him what he thought about the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell. I laughed and told her it was the only thing I wanted to say and I thought I should get an award for keeping my mouth shut for that many hours. My wife's official comment on the meeting is, "Wow he's so still gay!"

I just shake my head. If he is happy that is great. I really don't care who he is with. It's the fact that because he has kept a big part of his life a secret the rest of us have to tiptoe around subjects. I am a big fan of honesty. Trust in a relationship is key for me. So I have more of a problem with this relationship because I feel it was built on a lie not because of a label of someone's sexuality.

I hope he is happy. I hope she is happy. I hope they don't have a countdown clock in there house telling them when their marriage ends.

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Friday, December 24, 2010

Biden Says Marriage is 'Inevitable' - So What?

Vice President Joe Biden L'68Image via Wikipedia
Vice President Joe Biden discussed many topics during his appearance on the Today Show. One of the things was the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell and the President stating he is "evolving" on the idea of gay marriage. Biden says the country will inevitably move towards consensus of "gay marriage" like it moved toward consensus on Don't Ask, Don't Tell.

My thoughts on this...big deal. I didn't hear him say the President and I are committed to overturning the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and bringing Marriage Equality to the LGBT community. What I heard is the same thing LGBT activists and even some conservatives have said. As time passes the older generation, which opposes gay marriage the strongest, will be replaced with the younger generation that doesn't seem to have as much of a problem with it.

I agree with Vice President Biden's comparison with the military. It was clear the old soldiers - McCain like age, wanted to keep DADT. However, what the survey the President did showed those actively serving - Irag and Afghanistan vets (younger generation), don't care. Eventually, as the voting population changes marriage equality is something that will happen.

Until I hear that the President is actively working on it I'm not going to jump up and down for anyone in the White House realizing what we have all known - someday it will happen. It's just most of us would like to see it in our lifetime.

I also would like to see more emphasis being put on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. I feel that until we can protect everyone in the workplace it is difficult for people in certain places to get married. While marriage equality is the wedge issue that is easy for the media to make into the primary issue I think we need to stay focus on what would protect all in our community. After all, marriage equality is inevitable.

Watch the Today Show interview here:

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Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Signing the Repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell

It has been forever since I have done a post on this blog. I just couldn't let today go by without putting it all down. It was great to watch the signing that ends this discriminatory law. What an amazing day for LGBT Americans and Civil Rights. It was great to see Eric Alva, the first Marine injured in Iraq who came out and has been one of the faces of this fight, on the stage right with the President as he signed the bill. It was also nice to see Jarrod Chlapowski in the front row get a hand shake and a well deserved pat on the back for all the hard work he did to get this done. If you did not see President Obama's speech take a minute and watch below. I have also included the transcript from the White House.


Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release                                                       December 22, 2010


Department of Interior
Washington, D.C.

9:10 A.M. EST

     THE VICE PRESIDENT:  Hey, folks, how are you?  (Applause.)  It’s a good day.  (Applause.)  It’s a real good day.  As some of my colleagues can tell you, this is a long time in coming.  But I am happy it’s here.

     Ladies and gentlemen, welcome.  Please be seated.

     It was a great five-star general and President, Dwight D. Eisenhower, who once said, “Though force can protect in emergency, only justice, fairness and consideration, and cooperation can finally lead men to the dawn of eternal peace.”
By repealing "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" today, we take a big step toward fostering justice, fairness and consideration, and that real cooperation President Eisenhower spoke of.

This fulfills an important campaign promise the President and I made, and many here on this stage made, and many of you have fought for, for a long time, in repealing a policy that actually weakens our national security, diminished our ability to have military readiness, and violates the fundamental American principle of fairness and equality -- that exact same set of principles that brave gay men and women will now be able to openly defend around the world.  (Applause.) 

It is both morally and militarily simply the right thing to do.  And it’s particularly important that this result was fully supported by those within the military who are charged with implementing it.  And I want to pay particular respect, just as a personal note -- as we used to say, I used to be allowed to say in the Senate, a point of personal privilege -- Admiral Mullen, you're a stand-up guy.  (Applause.)  I think they like you.  (Applause.) 

He already has enough power.  Don't -- (laughter.) 

     And it couldn't have been done without these men and women leading our military.  And certainly it could not have been done without the steady, dedicated and persistent leadership of the President of the United States.  (Applause.)

     Mr. President, by signing this bill, you will be linking military might with an abiding sense of justice.  You’ll be projecting power by promoting fairness, and making the United States military as strong as they can be at a time we need it to be the strongest.

     Ladies and gentlemen, the President of the United States of America, the Commander-in-Chief, Barack Obama.  (Applause.)

     AUDIENCE:  Yes, we did!  Yes, we did!  Yes, we did!

     THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you!  Yes, we did.

     AUDIENCE MEMBER:  Thank you, Mr. President!

     THE PRESIDENT:  You are welcome.  (Applause.)

     This is a good day.

     AUDIENCE MEMBER:  Yes, it is!

     AUDIENCE MEMBER:  (Inaudible.) (Laughter.)

     AUDIENCE MEMBER:  You rock, President Obama!

     THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you, thank you, thank you.  (Laughter.)

You know, I am just overwhelmed.  This is a very good day.  (Applause.)  And I want to thank all of you, especially the people on this stage, but each and every one of you who have been working so hard on this, members of my staff who worked so hard on this.  I couldn’t be prouder.

     Sixty-six years ago, in the dense, snow-covered forests of Western Europe, Allied Forces were beating back a massive assault in what would become known as the Battle of the Bulge.  And in the final days of fighting, a regiment in the 80th Division of Patton’s Third Army came under fire.  The men were traveling along a narrow trail.  They were exposed and they were vulnerable.  Hundreds of soldiers were cut down by the enemy. 

And during the firefight, a private named Lloyd Corwin tumbled 40 feet down the deep side of a ravine.  And dazed and trapped, he was as good as dead.  But one soldier, a friend, turned back.  And with shells landing around him, amid smoke and chaos and the screams of wounded men, this soldier, this friend, scaled down the icy slope, risking his own life to bring Private Corwin to safer ground. 

     For the rest of his years, Lloyd credited this soldier, this friend, named Andy Lee, with saving his life, knowing he would never have made it out alone.  It was a full four decades after the war, when the two friends reunited in their golden years, that Lloyd learned that the man who saved his life, his friend Andy, was gay.  He had no idea.  And he didn’t much care.  Lloyd knew what mattered.  He knew what had kept him alive; what made it possible for him to come home and start a family and live the rest of his life.  It was his friend. 

And Lloyd’s son is with us today.  And he knew that valor and sacrifice are no more limited by sexual orientation than they are by race or by gender or by religion or by creed; that what made it possible for him to survive the battlefields of Europe is the reason that we are here today.   (Applause.)  That's the reason we are here today.  (Applause.)

So this morning, I am proud to sign a law that will bring an end to “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”  (Applause.)  It is a law -- this law I’m about to sign will strengthen our national security and uphold the ideals that our fighting men and women risk their lives to defend.

No longer will our country be denied the service of thousands of patriotic Americans who were forced to leave the military -– regardless of their skills, no matter their bravery or their zeal, no matter their years of exemplary performance -– because they happen to be gay.  No longer will tens of thousands of Americans in uniform be asked to live a lie, or look over their shoulder, in order to serve the country that they love.  (Applause.)

As Admiral Mike Mullen has said, “Our people sacrifice a lot for their country, including their lives.  None of them should have to sacrifice their integrity as well.”  (Applause.) 

That’s why I believe this is the right thing to do for our military.  That’s why I believe it is the right thing to do, period. 

Now, many fought long and hard to reach this day.  I want to thank the Democrats and Republicans who put conviction ahead of politics to get this done together.  (Applause.  I want to recognize Nancy Pelosi -- (applause) -- Steny Hoyer --  (applause) -- and Harry Reid.  (Applause.)

Today we’re marking an historic milestone, but also the culmination of two of the most productive years in the history of Congress, in no small part because of their leadership.  And so we are very grateful to them.  (Applause.)

I want to thank Joe Lieberman -- (applause) -- and Susan Collins.  (Applause.)  And I think Carl Levin is still working -- (laughter) -- but I want to add Carl Levin.  (Applause.)  They held their shoulders to the wheel in the Senate.  I am so proud of Susan Davis, who’s on the stage.  (Applause.)  And a guy you might know -- Barney Frank.  (Applause.)  They kept up the fight in the House.  And I’ve got to acknowledge Patrick Murphy, a veteran himself, who helped lead the way in Congress.  (Applause.) 

     I also want to commend our military leadership.  Ending “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” was a topic in my first meeting with Secretary Gates, Admiral Mullen, and the Joint Chiefs.  (Applause.)  We talked about how to end this policy.  We talked about how success in both passing and implementing this change depended on working closely with the Pentagon.  And that’s what we did.

And two years later, I’m confident that history will remember well the courage and the vision of Secretary Gates -- (applause) -- of Admiral Mike Mullen, who spoke from the heart and said what he believed was right -- (applause) -- of General James Cartwright, the Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs; and Deputy Secretary William Lynn, who is here.  (Applause.)  Also, the authors of the Pentagon’s review, Jeh Johnson and General Carter Ham, who did outstanding and meticulous work --  (applause) -- and all those who laid the groundwork for this transition. 

And finally, I want to express my gratitude to the men and women in this room who have worn the uniform of the United States Armed Services.  (Applause.)  I want to thank all the patriots who are here today, all of them who were forced to hang up their uniforms as a result of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” -- but who never stopped fighting for this country, and who rallied and who marched and fought for change.  I want to thank everyone here who stood with them in that fight. 

Because of these efforts, in the coming days we will begin the process laid out by this law.  Now, the old policy remains in effect until Secretary Gates, Admiral Mullen and I certify the military’s readiness to implement the repeal.  And it’s especially important for service members to remember that.  But I have spoken to every one of the service chiefs and they are all committed to implementing this change swiftly and efficiently.  We are not going to be dragging our feet to get this done.  (Applause.) 

Now, with any change, there’s some apprehension.  That’s natural.  But as Commander-in-Chief, I am certain that we can effect this transition in a way that only strengthens our military readiness; that people will look back on this moment and wonder why it was ever a source of controversy in the first place.     

I have every confidence in the professionalism and patriotism of our service members.  Just as they have adapted and grown stronger with each of the other changes, I know they will do so again.  I know that Secretary Gates, Admiral Mullen, as well as the vast majority of service members themselves, share this view.  And they share it based on their own experiences, including the experience of serving with dedicated, duty-bound service members who were also gay. 

     As one special operations warfighter said during the Pentagon’s review -- this was one of my favorites -- it echoes the experience of Lloyd Corwin decades earlier:  “We have a gay guy in the unit.  He’s big, he’s mean, he kills lots of bad guys.”  (Laughter.)  “No one cared that he was gay.”  (Laughter.) And I think that sums up perfectly the situation.  (Applause.)

Finally, I want to speak directly to the gay men and women currently serving in our military.  For a long time your service has demanded a particular kind of sacrifice.  You’ve been asked to carry the added burden of secrecy and isolation.  And all the while, you’ve put your lives on the line for the freedoms and privileges of citizenship that are not fully granted to you. 

You’re not the first to have carried this burden, for while today marks the end of a particular struggle that has lasted almost two decades, this is a moment more than two centuries in the making.

There will never be a full accounting of the heroism demonstrated by gay Americans in service to this country; their service has been obscured in history.  It’s been lost to prejudices that have waned in our own lifetimes.  But at every turn, every crossroads in our past, we know gay Americans fought just as hard, gave just as much to protect this nation and the ideals for which it stands.

There can be little doubt there were gay soldiers who fought for American independence, who consecrated the ground at Gettysburg, who manned the trenches along the Western Front, who stormed the beaches of Iwo Jima.  Their names are etched into the walls of our memorials.  Their headstones dot the grounds at Arlington.

And so, as the first generation to serve openly in our Armed Forces, you will stand for all those who came before you, and you will serve as role models to all who come after.  And I know that you will fulfill this responsibility with integrity and honor, just as you have every other mission with which you’ve been charged.

And you need to look no further than the servicemen and women in this room -- distinguished officers like former Navy Commander Zoe Dunning.  (Applause.)  Marines like Eric Alva, one of the first Americans to be injured in Iraq.  (Applause.)  Leaders like Captain Jonathan Hopkins, who led a platoon into northern Iraq during the initial invasion, quelling an ethnic riot, earning a Bronze Star with valor.  (Applause.)  He was discharged, only to receive emails and letters from his soldiers saying they had known he was gay all along -- (laughter) -- and thought that he was the best commander they ever had.  (Applause.) 

There are a lot of stories like these -- stories that only underscore the importance of enlisting the service of all who are willing to fight for this country.  That’s why I hope those soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines and Coast Guardsmen who have been discharged under this discriminatory policy will seek to reenlist once the repeal is implemented.  (Applause.) 

That is why I say to all Americans, gay or straight, who want nothing more than to defend this country in uniform:  Your country needs you, your country wants you, and we will be honored to welcome you into the ranks of the finest military the world has ever known.  (Applause.) 

Some of you remembered I visited Afghanistan just a few weeks ago.  And while I was walking along the rope line -- it was a big crowd, about 3,000 -- a young woman in uniform was shaking my hand and other people were grabbing and taking pictures.  And she pulled me into a hug and she whispered in my ear, “Get ‘Don't Ask, Don't Tell’ done.”  (Laughter and applause.)  And I said to her, “I promise you I will.”  (Applause.)   

For we are not a nation that says, “don’t ask, don’t tell.” We are a nation that says, “Out of many, we are one.”  (Applause.)  We are a nation that welcomes the service of every patriot.  We are a nation that believes that all men and women are created equal.  (Applause.)  Those are the ideals that generations have fought for.  Those are the ideals that we uphold today.  And now, it is my honor to sign this bill into law.  (Applause.)  

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  Thank you, Mr. President!

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you!

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  We're here, Mr. President.  Enlist us now.  (Laughter.) 

(The bill is signed.)

THE PRESIDENT:  This is done.  (Applause.) 

                                              END                     9:35 A.M. EST