This So-Called Post-Post-Racial Life

November 10, 2009

“We are a nation…”

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…We are a nation that endures because of the courage of those who defend it.  We saw that valor in those who braved bullets here at Fort Hood, just as surely as we see it in those who signed up knowing that they would serve in harm’s way.

We are a nation of laws whose commitment to justice is so enduring that we would treat a gunman and give him due process, just as surely as we will see that he pays for his crimes.

We’re a nation that guarantees the freedom to worship as one chooses.  And instead of claiming God for our side, we remember Lincoln’s words, and always pray to be on the side of God.

We’re a nation that is dedicated to the proposition that all men and women are created equal.  We live that truth within our military, and see it in the varied backgrounds of those we lay to rest today.  We defend that truth at home and abroad, and we know that Americans will always be found on the side of liberty and equality.  That’s who we are as a people….

~ President Barack H. Obama, Ft. Hood, Texas

 

July 16, 2009

Do Ask, Do Tell: the Military Readiness Enhancement Act

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On March 3, 2009, Rep. Ellen Tauscher (D-CA) introduced the Military Readiness Enhancement Act. Today, Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-PA), now lead sponsor, is joined by 161 bipartisan cosponsors and counting. SLDN is working with key allies to introduce parallel legislation in the U.S. Senate.

The Military Readiness Enhancement Act would repeal the federal law banning military service by openly lesbian, gay and bisexual Americans, “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” The bill would replace this ban with new provisions prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation in the armed forces. Current regulations regarding the personal conduct of military members would remain unchanged as long as they are written and enforced in a sexual orientation neutral manner. Persons previously discharged on the basis of sexual orientation would be eligible to apply to rejoin the military. The Military Readiness Enhancement Act would not create a right to benefits for same-sex partners or spouses, because under current federal law such benefits would violate the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).

Repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” would strengthen military readiness, retention and recruitment across the board.

Repeal would enable the military to attract and retain critical personnel. Nearly 13,000 service members have been discharged under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” since 1993, and strong evidence suggests that countless others have made the choice not to join the military or have left military service at the end of their commitments rather than serve under this discriminatory law. According to a 2005 GAO report, almost 800 persons discharged under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” had skills deemed “mission critical” by the military. Discharging linguists, doctors, nurses, mechanics, infantrymen and intelligence analysts for no other reason than because of their sexual orientation weakens readiness and undermines unit cohesion. Allowing all qualified Americans to serve regardless of sexual orientation will make every branch of our military stronger.

Repeal will also save millions of taxpayer dollars every year. According to the GAO report, it has cost more than $200 million to replace service members fired under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” GAO admits that this is an incomplete estimate; the true cost is even higher.

Repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” reflects American values. Polling shows that at least 75 percent of Americans support allowing gays to serve openly in our nation’s military. And Americans care deeply about treating our service members and veterans with the respect and thanks they deserve, not as second class citizens. It is estimated that more than 65,000 gay Americans serve in the military now, and that our country is home to more than 1,000,000 gay veterans. (Source, h/t Electronic Village)

Does your congressperson support the MREA? Ask. Then tell them to (continue to) do so.

May 25, 2009

Bittersweet

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"since it's memorial day." paul goyette, http://www.flickr.com/photos/pgoyette/155820893/

"since it's memorial day." paul goyette, http://www.flickr.com/photos/pgoyette/155820893/

At dawn a mother gazes not at the sun rising over the High Plains, nor the purplish snows of Pikes Peak. She sits in her study staring at a laptop, because the place on earth she feels closest to her fallen soldier is cyberspace.

Dane was her first-born, the boy who always wanted to follow his dad into the Army. Even after she tried to talk him out of it. Even after — especially after — his nation went to war. He left for Iraq in July 2007. Less than two months later, he was killed by a roadside bomb. He was 19.

This morning his mother, Carla Sizer, logs on to Legacy.com’s “In Remembrance” section. Spc. Dane Balcon, like thousands of other servicemembers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan, has his own memorial page. There are several obituaries, a musical tribute, 176 photos and a “guest book” with almost 1,200 messages posted by relatives, friends, neighbors, schoolmates, comrades and total strangers.

Carla visits the site first thing every morning, coffee in hand, and last thing at night, in her pajamas. She visits during the day (the site is bookmarked on her iPhone). She leaves a message or reads those posted by others. She calls up a photo of Dane and touches it on the screen with her fingers. At times like these, she says, “I know he’s smiling down. It keeps me going in the right direction.”

The Internet is changing how Americans remember the war dead. This Memorial Day, Carla and tens of thousands of others will turn to such memorial websites to mourn, honor and recall departed members of the military services…. (Source)

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