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[English] Repealing 'don't ask': History or hysteria?

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[English] Repealing 'don't ask': History or hysteria?

Mensagem por Daniela em Seg 31 Maio 2010, 11:11

After 17 years of controversy and more than 13,000 dismissals of gays and lesbians from the military, repeal of the "don't ask, don't tell" policy on gays in the military is likely to resemble the phantom Y2K computer scare a decade ago - if other countries' experience is a prelude.

But before that can happen, the repeal that passed the House last week awaits a filibuster threat in the full Senate by John McCain, R-Ariz., as well as a multimillion-dollar study by the Pentagon and certification by President Obama, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Michael Mullen that lifting the ban will not harm America's fighting force.

More than two dozen foreign militaries allow homosexuals to serve, the latest being Uruguay. Suzanne Goldberg, director of the Columbia Law School's Sexuality and Gender Law Clinic, said that Canada, Britain, Australia and Israel found that allowing open service has been, "as one person put it, a collective yawn."

In the United States, the Central Intelligence Agency, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Secret Service allow open service. The key to implementation, experts said, is a uniform code of conduct that is enforced without regard to sexual orientation.

Polling finds that more than three-quarters of the public and most self-described conservatives favor open service. Opposition has dwindled to "a rear-guard action by some people who really care about this, and there aren't that many of them," said Morris Fiorina, a political scientist at Stanford University's Hoover Institution.

If repeal overcomes the obstacles, gays and lesbians in the military will still be governed - as are all 8 million federal employees - by the 1994 Defense of Marriage Act, which prohibits the federal government extending marriage benefits to same-sex couples.

"Who gets notified if you're injured or killed?" asked Jon Davidson, legal director at Lambda Legal, an advocacy group. "What benefits does your spouse or partner get? Do they get to shop at the PX? If you're stationed at a base, can they live with you there? Right now, this repeal will not address any of those. It just means people will not get kicked out."

Foes become backers

While repeal must pass the Senate, would-be Democratic foes such as Robert Byrd of West Virginia and Ben Nelson of Nebraska have announced their support. McCain's last-ditch effort to kill repeal in committee - by soliciting letters from military chiefs urging Congress to await the Dec. 1 completion of the Pentagon study - failed. Mainstream conservative groups have stayed on the sidelines.

One of the few that has been active, the Family Research Council, issued a report predicting an increase in homosexual assaults. The report cited Pentagon case synopses of "forcible sodomy," "female-on-female assaults" and a gay lovers' quarrel that led to violence.

But academics find no evidence of disproportionate same-sex sexual assaults. "The most substantial problem is with men assaulting women, and it's been an ongoing struggle for the military," said Goldberg.

Aaron Belkin, director of the Palm Center, a UC Santa Barbara think tank, said questions regarding benefits to same-sex partners and spouses may cause administrative problems, "but these are not high-church issues. These are in-the-weeds issues that will be figured out without much difficulty."

Many of the authors of "don't ask, don't tell," including Georgia Democrat Sam Nunn, then chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, and Colin Powell, then chairman of the Joint Chiefs, have since reconsidered.

Their burning worries of the time seem quaint in hindsight. Nunn stood on the Senate floor in January 1993 demanding answers to a list of questions, including what would happen if a gay couple in uniform danced together at a formal event.

Still, it took a shove from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco, to get the White House to agree to a vote this year. Having promised the Pentagon a study, the administration sought to delay repeal until next year, despite Obama's State of the Union pledge.

Reaching compromise

Pelosi, Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin, D-Mich., and Sen. Joseph Lieberman, a Connecticut independent, forced the administration's hand by threatening to move alone.

The resulting compromise allowed a vote on repeal this year but delayed implementation until after the Pentagon study is finished and certified. The compromise also omits language banning discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation that was contained in the original repeal bill, the Military Readiness Enhancement Act by former Contra Costa Rep. Ellen Tauscher, a Democrat now at the State Department.

The study will cover much of the same ground as an exhaustive Rand study commissioned by the Pentagon in 1993.

Landmark research

The Rand study looked at the record of foreign militaries, the integration of gays and lesbians into local police and fire departments and the U.S. military's efforts at gender and racial integration. It found no harm to cohesion, retention, recruitment or any other measures of effectiveness.

Despite the Defense of Marriage Act, the military may have considerable leeway in deciding what benefits apply.

The marriage law "is absolutely discriminatory against gay and lesbian couples, but it does not forbid every imaginable form of recognition by the federal government," said Goldberg.

About 34,000 federal employees are in same-sex relationships, according to the Congressional Research Service, including some in marriages. The research service found that benefits not expressly banned by the Defense of Marriage Act can be extended at the discretion of agency heads.

In June 2009, Obama directed federal agencies to extend to federal employees benefits that are granted to domestic partners of federal workers. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton moved to extend many relocation, medical and other benefits to same-sex partners of State Department employees.
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Revogaram a lei que proibia que homossexuais declarassem sua identidade sexual dentro do exército, porém, eles continuam não podendo casar, seu parceiro não tem direito algum, caso aconteça algo com o parceiro militar etc.


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Daniela
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Re: [English] Repealing 'don't ask': History or hysteria?

Mensagem por Carlos em Seg 31 Maio 2010, 12:55

Fato, essa foi uma pequena conquista, ainda tem muita coisa pra mudar em relação aos gays no que se refere a direitos.
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