Veterans Day 2020

Veterans Day is an official United States public holiday, observed annually on November 11, that honors all those who served in the United States Armed Forces.

My dad was a proud veteran who served not only in World War II but the Korean War as well. He left active service as a Major in the Air Force.

The focus of Veterans Day is often confused with Memorial Day, a U.S. public holiday in May.

Veterans Day celebrates the service of all U.S. military veterans, while Memorial Day honors those who died while in military service.

“Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” which kept U.S. LGBT soldiers from openly serving in the military was officially repealed on September 20, 2011, making this the 9th Veterans Day that openly LGB American military members can celebrate with their loved ones.

Much thanks to President Obama and Congressional Democrats for moving us this much closer to equality and allowing proud LGB Americans to protect the country they love.

With this election, here’s hoping Donald Trump’s misguided transgender military service ban comes to an end soon so proud trans service members can be a part of the celebrations as well.

Deep thanks to all who serve, both past and present, to protect the United States.

While we’re here, a small round-up of Veteran’s Day Instagram posts:

Ben Carson: “Deal With The Transgender ‘Thing'” Somewhere Other Than The Military

Speaking in Iowa yesterday, GOP White House hopeful Dr. Ben Carson wished aloud that we should “deal” with transgender issues somewhere other than the military.

And, he added, he misses the good old days when gays and lesbians had to be uber-closeted to serve in the U.S. military.

“You know, we have too many important things to do,” Carson said at a “Veterans and Military Town Hall” hosted by the Concerned Veterans for America. “When our men and women are out there fighting the enemy, the last thing that we need to be doing is saying what would it be like if we introduced several transgender people into this platoon.”

“You know, give me a break. Deal with the transgender thing somewhere else,” Carson said before saying he prefers the old “don’t ask, don’t tell” military philosophy that ended in 2011.

Pentagon Statistics Show Rise In Male-On-Male Assault

The Pentagon issued a report today showing a rise in the reports of male-on-male sexual assault between the fall of 2013 and summer of 2014.

Of course, opponents of ending Don’t Ask Don’t Tell say allowing openly gay men to serve in the military is the cause of the rise in reports.

Wrong.

I’m not so sure there’s been an actual increase in such assaults as much as the Pentagon has ramped up efforts to encourage men to come forward.

Statistics show men often never report being sexually assaulted because they don’t have confidence in the chain of command. Additionally, there is the social stigma and embarrassment attached to being viewed as “less than a man.”

More stats in the short video below.

(h/t JMG)

US Marine Marries Boyfriend From Viral “Homecoming Kiss” Fame

Dalan Wells (L) and Marine Sergeant Brandon Morgan (R)

You may remember this photo above from February 2012, when Marine Sergeant Brandon Morgan was welcomed home by his boyfriend of four years, Dalan Wells, at a Marines Corp Base in Hawaii.

Seeing Wells, Morgan jumped into his boyfriend’s arms and the moment was captured for the world to see.

Two days later, after the shot was posted to a Facebook page for Gay Marines, the pic had over 18,000 “Likes,” and the couple was famous.

Many felt the pic represented the progress gays and lesbians have made in the military as “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” had ended just six months before.

A year after the photo took the internet by storm, Morgan proposed to Wells.

The happy story comes full circle as we get the news that hunky and inspiring couple got married last weekend in Honeoye Falls, New York.

Trailer: “Burning Blue”

Released today in select movie theaters across the country and available on demand at iTunes.

Drawn from the author’s own life, BURNING BLUE explores the concepts of love, friendship and honor in the U.S. Navy when a routine accident investigation turns into a modern-day Witch Hunt.

Synopsis: Following two fatal mishaps involving F-18 jets aboard an aircraft carrier a government agent is placed aboard the ship to determine what may be at the root of these accidents. His mission abruptly changes course when a young sailor reports seeing one of the fleets’ top-ranking fighter pilots in a gay club. The suspected aviator and three of his squadron mates and their spouses become the subjects of a deadly investigation entangling them in a web of jealousy and deceit changing their lives forever.

Pentagon: All states now allowing same-sex spouses full benefits

Sec. of Defense Chuck Hagel has issued a statement saying all states are now complying with new post-DOMA/post-DADT rules allowing same-sex spouses of military members to get ID cards in order to claim benefits.

Nine states, including Texas, Florida, Georgia and Mississippi, initially defied the Pentagon by refusing to allow National Guard facilities to issue the ID cards, triggering sharp criticism from Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel.

Under Pentagon policy that took effect Sept. 3, same-sex military spouses are eligible for the same health care, housing and other benefits enjoyed by opposite-sex spouses.

(source)

First gay marriage announcement at US Coast Guard Academy

Kaitlin Ward (L) and Lauren Bloch (R)

A very cool bit of history was made at the US Coast Guard Academy last week.

From Buzzfeed:


It’s a tradition at the United States Coast Guard Academy in New London, Conn., that when a cadet becomes engaged to be married, the lucky man or woman’s friends will announce the engagement to the entire corps in the wardroom at lunchtime, the one meal that all four years of students eat together.

On Thursday, Dec. 5, the announcement was a little different. “Over the weekend, Cadet First Class Kaitlin Ward got down on one knee and proposed to her longtime girlfriend, Lauren Bloch. This is the first announcement of its type.”

There was a brief moment of silence as the room realized the significance of the announcement — the first in the school’s 137-year history — before the corps of cadets started cheering and whooping for their classmate and her fiancée, the latest couple who had met and fallen in love at the academy.

Dan Choi fined $100 for White House DADT protest

Former US Army lieutenant Dan Choi, who became the face of the movement to end Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, has been fined $100 for chaining himself to the White House in 2010.

In May of 2011, the other twelve who took part in the protest pled guilty and received deferred sentences. Lt. Dan was the only defendant to plead not guilty.

Choi, who was discharged from the Army after coming out on the Rachel Maddow Show, faced up to six months in federal prison for his actions.

He will not face any prison time if he pays the fine.

The Washington Post reports:

The guilty finding against Daniel Choi came as the West Point graduate tried to turn the usually staid courtroom of the District’s federal court into a lively venue for protesting his prosecution for his role in the November 2010 demonstration.

In court on Thursday, Choi’s erratic demeanor swung from emotional outbursts at the lectern to belligerent confrontations with a U.S. Park Police officer and the federal prosecutor.

Dressed in a military uniform, Choi paced the courtroom, serving as his own lawyer. “All I want at the end of this day is to return to the U.S. military,” Choi said through tears.

Choi, who is not trained as an attorney, alternated between whispered apologies for his teary breakdowns and loud rebukes of Assistant U.S. Attorney Angela George for failing to refer to him as a lieutenant.

Sec. of Defense nominee Chuck Hagel supports equal benefits for gay/lesbian service members

“I fully support the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Repeal Act of 2010 and value
the service of all those who fight for our country. I know firsthand the
profound sacrifice our service members and their families make, and if
confirmed as Secretary of Defense, I will do everything possible to the
extent permissible under current law to provide equal benefits to the
families of all our service members.” – Chuck Hagel, in a letter to Sen. Barbara Boxer.