Friday, July 22, 2011

Don't Ask, Don't Tell Repeal Certified

Photo by Pete Souza

Today, President Obama signed the certification that will lead to "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" finally being gone on September 20, 2011. Some were not happy with the delay in certification, however, for a change like this in the military I am very satisfied with 7 months.

There has been a lot of information coming from the White House today and I wanted to share some of that. 
First is the press release from President Obama.

Office of the Press Secretary
July 22, 2011

Statement by the President on Certification of Repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell

Today, we have taken the final major step toward ending the discriminatory ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ law that undermines our military readiness and violates American principles of fairness and equality.  In accordance with the legislation that I signed into law last December, I have certified and notified Congress that the requirements for repeal have been met.  ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ will end, once and for all, in 60 days—on September 20, 2011. 

As Commander in Chief, I have always been confident that our dedicated men and women in uniform would transition to a new policy in an orderly manner that preserves unit cohesion, recruitment, retention and military effectiveness.  Today’s action follows extensive training of our military personnel and certification by Secretary Panetta and Admiral Mullen that our military is ready for repeal.  As of September 20th, service members will no longer be forced to hide who they are in order to serve our country.  Our military will no longer be deprived of the talents and skills of patriotic Americans just because they happen to be gay or lesbian.

I want to commend our civilian and military leadership for moving forward in the careful and deliberate manner that this change requires, especially with our nation at war.  I want to thank all our men and women in uniform, including those who are gay or lesbian, for their professionalism and patriotism during this transition.  Every American can be proud that our extraordinary troops and their families, like earlier generations that have adapted to other changes, will only grow stronger and remain the best fighting force in the world and a reflection of the values of justice and equality that the define us as Americans.

Next is an email sent by the President to organizations like HRC and individuals who worked hard to make this victory possible. 
Last year, I visited Afghanistan. I was there to thank our men and women in uniform, the brave Americans who have given so much on behalf of this country and who make me so proud to be Commander-in-Chief.  At one of America’s bases there, I was shaking hands and taking pictures, walking along a pretty tight crowd of service members.  A young woman in uniform pulled me into a hug.  She leaned in close so I could hear her over the noise and whispered, “Get ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ done.” 
I said to her, “I promise you I will.” 
A few weeks later, after a struggle that lasted almost two decades, I signed a law to repeal this policy.  I signed it with absolute confidence in our men and women in uniform, in their professionalism and in their capacity to adapt to this change, just as they have adapted and grown stronger with other changes throughout our history.  And I signed this repeal knowing that our military would be stronger – and our nation safer – for the service of patriotic gay men and women who would no longer have to live a lie in order to defend the country they love. 
Today, in accordance with this law, I signed the certification that will end “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” once and for all.  The Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff also have certified that the military is ready for the repeal.  Sixty days from now, on September 20th, the repeal will be complete and gay men and women will be able to serve their country openly. 
On that day, I’ll be thinking of the young woman I met in Afghanistan.  And I’ll be thinking of the countless others like her, straight and gay alike, who love this nation and the ideals for which it was founded, and who have signed up to serve so that we might all live in freedom and uphold this simple creed: we are all created equal. 
Thank you for helping to make this victory for our country possible. 
Barack Obama

Finally I wanted to include a copy of the actual certification document

This is a great day. The end to this awful law finally has an expiration date.

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Saturday, July 16, 2011

McDonald's Gay Ad in France is a Conversation Starter

I happened to catch this ad by McDonald's today in the Telegraph. I Tweeted, Facebooked, and Google+'d (yes twitter has the best social media verbs but that is another discussion). I realized that there was more I had to say on it so I am doing things a little backwards with with writing after already putting it on social media but oh well.

First here is the video...then we can discuss.

I guess the video was actually released a year ago but I missed it somehow. Maybe because I don't live in France.  Regardless of when it came out, I have seen it now and I love it. I love how it shows just one of many conversations that happen daily in which LGBT individuals have to decide whether or not to come out. Many people just don't realize how often this happens. Then the decision comes - do I out myself or not? We don't actually know what the father and son discuss over fries and that is ok. Part of me really wanted to see the conversation start. Something like, "Dad, I've got something to tell you." However, is McDonald's really the place to have that conversation with Dad?

Sometimes I think that is what holds us back from coming out. Is this the right time and place? I wish that wasn't the case. I wish people felt like it was something to discuss anywhere at anytime. Doing that takes the stigma out of it that talking about being gay is only something to do in private. I understand that many risk their jobs and others could risk their safety. That's why for those of us that feel safe and secure we must not miss these opportunities. It will only help to make things better for those that can't.

Another thing I thought of as I watched this was, how many conversations did this start? Not necessarily between teens and their parents but among all generations - maybe with friends or even co-workers. Just someone commenting they had seen the commercial and liked it would be enough for an LGBT individual to recognize they had an ally and be more comfortable coming out. Even just a parent that wants their child to know they are loved no matter what could comment on the commercial in a positive way. I see many good conversations that can happen because of this.

Do I see how there could be bad conversations, of course. People could learn a close friend or family member is not accepting. However, I choose to believe that both the good and bad conversations are good. The bottom line is the more things are in the open the better.

Thanks McDonald's. I can't wait for the day we see things like this in the U.S.