Nel's New Day

May 30, 2011

Allow Lesbians and Gays to Openly Mourn Their Loved Ones

Filed under: Uncategorized — trp2011 @ 5:49 PM

Today is Memorial Day—the real one that is on May 30 because the date and the last Monday in May coincide. Originally called Decoration Day, this was intended to be a day of remembrance for the 1.8 million men and women who have died in serving the country since 1775.

Since 2003, 4454 people have died in what George W. Bush called the Iraq War. Sixty-four of these casualties are gays and lesbians. I am spending today mourning the people who died in the military despite the rights that they are denied by the country they served.

In their mythical trail toward smaller government, the House Republicans have passed the infamous Paul Ryan “dump Medicare” bill and moved onto a new issue. Now their sabers are rattling to void the repeal of the “don’t ask, don’t tell” law which was passed and signed last year. The repeal would allow lesbians and gays to openly serve in the military; the Republicans tactics would slow this process down to molasses speed.

Last week the National Defense Authorization Bill passed the House, 322 to 96, with three anti-gay amendments. The first of the three amendments, sponsored by Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.), requires that four people be added to the certifications required from the President, Secretary of Defense, and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of  Staff: all four military service chiefs would also have to certify that the DADT repeal would not impact combat readiness. These four people don’t want to provide certification, and the law demanding this bureaucracy would take a great deal of time.

From Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R-Mo.), the second amendment confirms that DOMA (defense, of course, meaning that lesbians and gays cannot be legally married) applies to Defense Department regulations and policies. Rep. Todd Akin (R-Mo.) introduced the third amendment that neither military facilities nor personnel may be used in same-sex marriages. Military chaplains and civilian Defense Department employees also cannot officiate at gay weddings.

This latest fight enters the Senate in June, but it’s been going on in the Navy for a month. After the chief of Navy chaplains, Rear Adm. Mark Tidd, issued a directive last month that stated same-sex marriages would be allowed in chapels where marriage is legal, the Republicans became furious. The announcement allowing same-sex marriages in chapels was released on May 9; the announcement that the policy was being rescinded until further notice came out two days later. Republicans say that same-sex marriage is illegal. Five states and the District of Columbia disagree.

The infamous Leviticus argument frequently used to oppose homosexuality is now being used to defend the DADT repeal by a group of active-duty military Chaplains. The Forum on the Military Chaplaincy has filed an amicus brief in support of the repeal of DADT. In the brief they point out that Leviticus opposes many practices that Christians accepts, such as eating rabbit, pork, or shellfish. They continue, explaining that military Orthodox and Conservative rabbis serve all members of the military, not just those of their own faith and beliefs. “If an Orthodox or Conservative rabbi’s religious liberty is not threatened by the military service of many Christians and Reform Jews—who tend to openly ignore Levitical dietary rules—it is difficult to see why religious liberty of Orthodox Jewish chaplains, or even of evangelical Christian chaplains, might be seriously threatened by the presence of military personnel who do not pretend to follow the Levitical holiness code in other respects.”

I am also spending Memorial Day hoping that gays and lesbians in the military will soon receive the right to serve openly and that the loved ones of casualities can mourn them openly.

1 Comment »

  1. Thanks for putting it all together.


    Comment by Lee Lynch — May 30, 2011 @ 7:43 PM | Reply

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