US Marine Corps Officer Arrested For Taking Part In Capitol Invasion

Christopher Warnagiris (image via Justice Dept)

A U.S. Marine Corps officer is about to go through some stuff after being arrested for taking part in the January 6 invasion of the U.S. Capitol.

From the Department of Justice:

An active duty U.S. Marine Corps commissioned officer stationed at the Marine Corps Base Quantico was arrested today in Virginia and charged with crimes related to the breach of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, which disrupted a joint session of the U.S. Congress in the process of ascertaining and counting the electoral votes related to the presidential election.

Major Christopher Warnagiris, 40, of Woodbridge, is charged with federal offenses that include assaulting, resisting or impeding certain officers; obstruction of law enforcement during civil disorder; and obstruction of justice, among other charges.

According to court documents and security camera footage, Warnagiris violently entered the Capitol on Jan. 6, after pushing through a line of police officers guarding the East Rotunda doors. Once inside, Warnagiris positioned himself in the corner of the doorway, using his body to keep the door open and pull others inside.

When a U.S. Capitol Police (USCP) officer tried to pull the doors shut, Warnagiris refused and continued pushing it open. Warnagiris can be seen pushing the officer in an effort to maintain his position in the open door in security camera footage

Nearly 40% Of Marines Are Refusing COVID Vaccine

Vials of COVID-19 vaccine

Vials of COVID-19 vaccine

New data released Friday shows almost 40% of U.S. Marines are taking a pass on coronavirus vaccines.

From CNN:

As of Thursday, approximately 75,500 Marines have received vaccines, including fully vaccinated and partially vaccinated service men and women. About 48,000 Marines have chosen not to receive vaccines, for a declination rate of 38.9%.

The military cannot make the vaccines mandatory now because they have only emergency use authorizations from the Food and Drug Administration, meaning service members who are required to receive a series of other vaccinations have the option of declining shots to protect against Covid-19.

Officials say most of the vaccine hesitancy stems from concerns about the speed at which the vaccines were developed and fears over long-term effects.

According to the Pentagon, there are some 2.2 million service members operating around the globe.

Read the full report here.

Some folks feel the hesitancy may come from military service members tending to lean right politically and conservatives have been vocal about not wanting to take the shot – even though their savior Donald Trump will tell you he created it with his own two hands.

Former Marine Pens Op-Ed Regarding Male-On-Male Sexual Assault

A recent New York Times article penned by U.S. Army Captain Justin Rose shares his first-person account of having been the victim of sexual assault during his time as a U.S. Marine.

A recent New York Times article penned by U.S. Army Captain Justin Rose shares his first-person account of having been the victim of sexual assault during his time as a U.S. Marine.

The incident occurred in 2006 while deployed to the Horn of Africa. The perpetrator was a fellow Marine, someone Rose considered a friend.

At the time, Rose told his superiors what had happened, and months later he testified at a court martial along with three other Marines who had reported similar inappropriate sexual misconduct.

But the result of that legal proceeding was for Rose and his fellow Marines to be labeled “liars” and “co-conspirators” who were trying to ruin a man’s reputation.

They were told their stories were not believable, and that the accused was a Midwesterner with a religious background. The military judge refused to buy the four men’s allegations.

What stands out most in Rose’s personal essay was the shame that he felt. He was a Marine – how could he have “let” this happen?

From The New York Times:

Long after the attack itself is over, you’re left dealing with all the toxic doubts and self-blame that come with being sexually assaulted.

I fought with the idea that I somehow invited this upon myself, that I deserved it or was somehow to blame for the assault. It stripped away my confidence and degraded the trust I had in my fellow Marines.

I questioned the values that I first bought into when I became a Marine: the belief in honor, courage and commitment that was instilled by our drill instructors. I didn’t immediately confront my attacker face to face — so where was my courage or honor? How would I react to real combat?

Where was the commitment from my fellow Marines, when I needed support in the aftermath of the attack? Would they be there for me if I needed their help on the battlefield one day?

Before, during and after the military trial, Rose became the subject of constant taunting by his fellow Marines as his noncommissioned officers had shared the allegations.

Rose eventually resigned from the Marines (“I could no longer wear the uniform of the man who assaulted me”) and accepted a commission in the Army Reserve.

In the years since the incident, Rose – like many men who experience male-on-male sexual assault – found the scars of shame and self-doubt to be the most impactful.

Folks’ refusal to believe that a man could sexually assault another man, plus the mockery by his own officers became the most enduring effects of the ordeal.

Even though Rose doesn’t identify as gay in his essay, LGBT people experience the same effects of shame, doubt and more when sexually assaulted.

According to the Center’s for Disease Control’s National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey:

• 26% of gay men and 37% of bisexual men say they have experienced rape, physical violent or more by an intimate partner

• 44% of lesbians and 61% of bisexual women say they have experienced rape, physical violent or more by an intimate partner

Many LGBTs who experience rape (especially in a dating situation) find it difficult to tell even close friends about the event for fear of not being believed.

I know.

I was the target (I refuse to use the word ‘victim’) of date rape myself back in the early 1990s in New York City. I know exactly how this can happen.

I won’t go into all the details, but I will say what happened was with someone I knew, during the course of a third date.

The person in question invited me to dinner out on Staten Island where he lived.

After dinner we went back to his place and things took an sexual direction, as happens between consenting adults. The attraction was mutual, but soon the guy took a turn and became very aggressive.

Even though I was a strapping, young-30-something who worked out six days a week, he was not only bigger than I, but didn’t hesitate to use pain to restrain me. Extreme pain.

In the moment, after much struggling and using the word “stop” many times, the only thoughts running through my shocked mind were to survive the moment.

The incident went on for about an hour and a half, with him keeping me, and my genitals, in a painful vise grip. Eventually, he fell asleep.

I know most folks would say, “You should have jumped up and left.”

But, by then it was then the middle of the night. I was frightened/stunned out of my mind.

I didn’t know where I was or how to get home to Manhattan’s Upper West Side, AND I was afraid to wake him for fear it would all begin again.

I lay awake the rest of the night keeping an eye on my assailant.

When morning came, he acted as if nothing had happened. It seemed it was all some bondage fantasy that he had indulged in without exploring the issue with me.

When he sensed my tension, he ‘apologized’ saying he didn’t realize I wasn’t ‘into it.’

I found a bus to take me to the Staten Island Ferry and back to Manhattan.

I didn’t have any physical scars but I didn’t share the incident with anyone. Not even my best friends.

When the words would begin to come, all I could feel was the doubt that I hadn’t defended myself enough. That it could have been my own fault.

I know it wasn’t.

A few years later, after I’d met my husband, we encountered the guy in NYC’s West Village in passing. He said ‘hi’ as if nothing had ever happened. But for me, it all came back.

I’m compelled to write this now because Captain Rose’s story reminded me how long that single incident affected me.

I really want folks to know that same-sex, male-on-male assault does, indeed, happen. And no, it’s not your fault.

If you find yourself in a similar situation, I urge you to seek counseling – even if you don’t think you need it. Sometimes, just expressing your thoughts to someone else gets the poison out of you and helps to alleviate some of the sense of shame.

A postscript to Captain Rose’s tale: ten years after his assault, he was contacted by a detective who was putting together a case against his Marine assailant. It turns out the man had gone on to a history of sexual assault and violence.

Rose traveled to Kansas where he once again took the stand to testify against the man.

This time, he was believed and his assailant was convicted, receiving a 49-year prison sentence.

Finally, vindication.

I encourage you to read the full essay at The New York Times here.

And if you or someone you know become the target of sexual assault, one resource to help you is the National Sexual Assault Hotline which can be reached at 1-800-656-4673 24/7 or online at https://ohl.rainn.org/hotlinehttps://ohl.rainn.org/online/.

You can also find more resources at the Human Rights Campaign Sexual Assault webpage.

Openly Gay U.S. Marine Wins Runoff In Highly Democratic Alabama District

Openly gay former U.S. Marine Neil Rafferty won his runoff contest last night in Alabama to become the Democratic candidate for the state House seat in District 54.
Democratic candidate for the Alabama state House, Neil Rafferty

Openly gay former U.S. Marine Neil Rafferty won his runoff contest last night in Alabama to become the Democratic candidate for the state House seat in District 54.

I reported last month that Rafferty narrowly missed having a runoff at all after getting 48% of the primary vote on June 5.

The political newbie is vying for the seat vacated by Democratic state Rep. Patricia Todd, who was the first openly gay legislator in Alabama. Todd has held the seat since 2006.

Rafferty was endorsed by Todd, who announced her retirement earlier this year.

I previously wrote about Rafferty when he announced his candidacy back in February.

The Birmingham native spent four years in the U.S. Marines before returning home to earn a bachelor’s degree from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. He currently works as the director of research and development at Birmingham AIDS Outreach.

Michael Rudolph (L) and Neil Rafferty (R)

Rafferty joined the Marines after his longtime boyfriend, Michael Rudolph had been deployed twice to Iraq as a Marine so they could stay together even though ‘Don’t Ask Don’t Tell’ was still in effect. The couple, now together 14 years, are currently engaged and planning their wedding.

According to AL.com, Rafferty received 2,531 votes, or 67.12 percent with 100 percent of the vote reporting. His opponent, environmentalist and marketer Jacqueline Gray Miller, received 1,240 votes, or 32.88 percent.

Although no Republican competed in District 54, Rafferty can’t quite claim victory just yet.

Joseph Baker has entered the race as an Independent and will face Rafferty in the November general election. That said, in that a Democrat has held the seat for 12 years and noting the current political environment, Rafferty’s chances at victory look very good.

News Round-Up: March 20, 2018

(image via Instagram)

Some news items you might have missed:

Timeout Magazine shares its 2018 round-up of the 20 Hottest Dancers on Broadway including Mr. Adam Perry (above).

• From one lesbian to another: Former New York City council speaker Christine Quinn slammed Cynthia Nixon “as an unqualified lesbian” a day after the actress announced her run for New York governor. Quinn later walked her comments back.

• HUD Secretary Ben Carson told a House Appropriations committee today that transgender people in a homeless shelter make others uncomfortable.

• An openly gay Marine Corps veteran is running for a seat in the Alabama state House.

• Michelangelo Signorile explains why it matters that a gay man helped Trump backers exploit Facebook data.

• Justin Timberlake and D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser welcome the thousands of protesters who are expected to descend on the District for the “March for Our Lives” rally Saturday.

Father Of Fallen Muslim-American Soldier To Trump: “You Have Sacrificed Nothing. And No One”

Easily one of the most impactful moments of the fourth and final night of the Democratic National Convention occurred when Khizr Khan, father of fallen U.S. Army Captain Humayun Khan, took to the stage to admonish Donald Trump for his anti-Muslim views.

Captain Khan was killed in 2004 in the Iraq war when he stepped in front of a car rigged with explosives, saving the men under his command. Khan was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star and Purple Heart for his bravery.

From Variety:

The story reverberated with emotion because Humayun was a devout Muslim, who volunteered to fight in the Middle East because he wanted to defend American democracy. Khizr Khan waved a pocket copy of the Constitution of the United States from the podium, asking if GOP nominee Donald Trump had even read America’s seminal political document. The elder Khan told the crowd that, if Trump had been able to follow through on his proposal to ban Muslims from entering the country, people like his son would never have been able to serve America.

The grieving father’s summation was searing: “Mr. Trump, you have sacrificed nothing. And no one.”

As we all know, Donald Trump has called for a complete stop to allowing Muslim immigrants to enter the United States. His policy would have kept this American hero from ever becoming a soldier the Army is so very proud of.

Interestingly, Fox News chose to cut away from convention coverage at the exact moment Khan was making his speech. CNN and MSNBC carried the full address.

Khizr Khan’s full speech below:


Steve Grand Goes On A Date To The Marines Corp Ball

Back in September, I wrote about handsome, hunky U.S. Marine Tanner White going for the gold and asking out singer/songwriter Steve Grand to this year’s Marine Corps Ball.

There’s a long tradition of servicemen asking their “celebrity dream dates” to the gala events.

Without pause, Grand said “yes,” and Monday night fulfilled his promise to accompany White to the Marine Corps Ball.

Not only is that great, but Grand shared a few pics from the grand evening.

(I know, I know – no one wants to see two handsome hunky guys head out to a big gala event…)

Check it all out below via Grand’s Instagram account.

A photo posted by Steve Grand (@stevegrandmusic) on Nov 10, 2015 at 4:11pm PST
A photo posted by Steve Grand (@stevegrandmusic) on Nov 10, 2015 at 10:23pm PST
A photo posted by Steve Grand (@stevegrandmusic) on Nov 10, 2015 at 10:49pm PST

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.

Out Singer/Songwriter Steve Grand Accepts Invitation To U.S. Marines Corp Ball

I recently wrote about Tanner White, an openly gay HIV+ U.S. Marine who invited hunky out singer/songwriter Steve Grand to the upcoming annual Marine Corp Ball in Wilmington, North Carolina.

“This video is for the all-American boy, Steve Grand. Steve, you are an amazing singer. I’ve seen some of your blog videos and they were awesome. I would like for you to go with me to the 2015 Marine Corps ball In November Hosted in Wilmington, North Carolina as my date. Hopefully you say yes. If not, it was worth a shot.”

Today – Grand accepted the invite via video!

Sweet little moment on the interwebs 🙂