Tag Archives: GLTB rights

News from the Massachusetts State House — Marriage is Safe!

 

I’m proud that Massachusetts took the lead in recognizing the right to marry for same sex couples. The Massachusetts Supreme Court recognized that right on May 17, 2004. Despite dire predictions, the sky has stayed right where it is, and I’m not aware of any heterosexuals filing for divorce on the grounds that their marriage has been devalued. And now I’m proud again; yesterday, June 14, 2007, the Massachusetts legislature rejected a proposal that would have subjected the fundamental right to marry to a public vote.

 Under Massachusetts law, a proposal to amend the constitution must be approved by two consecutive legislative sessions, then by a majority of Massachusetts voters. The proposed amendment to ban same sex marriage was approved by the legislature in January 2007 with 62 votes, and would have been put on the ballot for a vote had the proposal passed again today. The proposal needed the support of 50 voters to pass. It lost, 151 to 45, thanks, in great part, to the leadership of Governor Deval Patrick, Lieutenant Governor Tim Murray, Senate President Terry Murray and House Speaker Sal DiMasi. The idea that a basic human right should be subject to the whim of the majority has been defeated.

I was outside the Massachusetts State House along with hundreds of others to encourage the legislature to make the right decision. (Photos are posted here.) People on the other side of the street — and the other side of the issue — were fewer and less enthusiastic. That’s to be expected, I guess. We were supporting a community of people, couples and families. We’ve seen marriage make a real difference in real lives. Folks on the other side were concerned about an abstract idea, and a corrosive one at that. Their sense of morality is offended by the idea that two men or two women can care about each other in a relationship recognized by the state. It must be hard to be cheery about hating strangers.

Speak out on General Pace’s disgraceful comments!

General Peter Pace, the Chairmen of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, announced on Monday his personal opinion that simply being a gay or lesbian person is immoral, and that the military should therefore continue to refuse gays and lesbians the opportunity to serve in the military. Well, to be more precise, he supports the official military policy, that gays and lesbians can sign up, as long as they’re willing to crawl into the military closet and deny who they are.

The current “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy is immoral because it openly requires dishonesty, and treats gays and lesbians as second class citizens. It is unconstitutional because it punishes by exclusion gays and lesbians, not because of what they’ve done, but because of who they are; this type of “status crime” was years ago determined unconstitutional by the US Supreme Court.

General Pace’s delicate moral niceties are archaic. Barry Goldwater, the bastion of all that’s conservative, and 37 year veteran of the military, announced years ago his support of the right of gays and lesbians to be in the military:

The big thing is to make this country, along with every other country in the world with a few exceptions, quit discriminating against people just because they’re gay. You don’t have to agree with it, but they have a constitutional right to be gay. And that’s what brings me into it…. why the hell shouldn’t they serve? They’re American citizens. As long as they’re not doing things that are harmful to anyone else.

Vice-President Dick Cheney, while Secretary of Defense under the first President Bush, called security concerns about gays and lesbians an “old chestnut” and referred to the idea that “a gay lifestyle is incompatible with military service” as “a policy I inherited.” These comments were made by Cheney just after his assistant secretary of defense, Pete Williams was outed as a gay man.

The world has moved on ahead of the US. There are at least 26 nations that allow gays and lesbians to serve, including Israel, Australia, the United Kingdom, Argentina, Columbia, and every country in the European Union, which requires all members to abolish any bans on open service.

Pace’s comparison with adultery is specious. According to files received by Salon pursuant to a Freedom of Information Act request the military, under General Pace, is currently providing waivers for at least 17% of incoming recruits, accepting recruits with civilian criminal records including domestic abuse, assault, breaking and entering and auto theft. An outstanding article by Helen Benedict, also published in Salon, documents the pervasive threat of rape and sexual harassment women soldiers in Iraq live with daily. Perhaps General Pace should focus his moral concerns on matters of real substance existing within the scope of his responsibility.

The Chairmen of the Joint Chiefs of Staff has let the world know what he thinks Department of Defense policy should be, based upon his morals. He has also provided encouragement and cover for the continued harassment and abuse of men and women by their fellows and those in their chain of command. Sounds pretty damn immoral to me.

Please note: I am personally against the action in Iraq and support plans to withdraw troops now. I am not advocating for the war in Iraq, but for the right to openly serve in the military without regard to sexual orientation. Tom

IMPORTANT: If you agree with me, write your representatives in Congress and the Senate as well as General Pace, and write your local papers. Register your disapproval with General Pace’s remarks and your support for changing military policy to allow gays and lesbians to serve openly in the military. General Pace can be reached at:

Joint Chiefs of Staff, Chairman
9999 Joint Chiefs of Staff, Pentagon
Room 4E873
Washington, DC 20318
Fax: (703) 697-8758

All or any part of this post can be used, with attribution, for any non-commercial purpose to help spread the word.