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Service chiefs to testify on ‘Don’t Ask’ repeal

Full committee hearing follows subcommittee testimony



Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James Amos (Photo courtesy

The House Armed Services Committee is scheduled on Thursday to hear testimony from the military service chiefs on the progress of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal implementation.

The uniform heads of the Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps are set to make an appearance before lawmakers: Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Gary R0ughead, Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James Amos and Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz. Representing the Army will be Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Peter Chiarelli.

The hearing — which is set to begin at 1 pm in Room 2118 in the Rayburn House Office Building — is scheduled to be split into two panels. Chiarelli is slated to speak during the first panel, while Roughead, Amos and Schwartz are set to speak during the second panel.

Some members of the Joint Staff — especially Amos, who said he feared that open service could cause a distraction that could lead to the loss of Marines’ lives — were against “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal when it came before Congress last year. However, each of the services issued guidance stating that they would proceed to implement repeal after Congress acted to lift military’s gay ban.

Rep. Buck McKeon (R-Calif.), chair of the committee, was among the most vocal opponents of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal last year and cast “no” votes on repeal measures both times they came to the House floor.

A spokesperson for the House Armed Services Committee didn’t respond on short notice to comment on the planned testimony or what McKeon hopes to accomplish with the hearing.

In December, President Obama signed legislation allowing for repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” but the anti-gay law will only be off the books following 60 days after the president, the defense secretary, and the chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff certify the U.S military is ready for open service. Gay service members are still in danger of discharge from the armed services until the certification process is complete.

The scheduled hearing on Friday comes on the heels of a previous hearing the Republican-controlled House held last week on “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal, which was before the House Armed Services personnel subcommittee. During the hearing, Pentagon officials said certification for open service could happen mid-summer while GOP lawmakers expressed discontent with moving toward an end to the military’s gay ban.

Those who worked to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” last year said they didn’t anticipate the upcoming hearing would have an impact on disrupting the process leading to implementing open service in the U.S. military.

Alex Nicholson, executive director of Servicemembers United, said the second hearing on “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal before the Republican-controlled House “is yet another example of some of these legislators contradicting their own principles.”

“This issue has been settled, the Department of Defense has embraced this change, and trying to re-open this debate is a complete waste of both taxpayer money and the valuable time of these senior defense leaders in the midst of multiple overseas conflicts,” Nicholson said. “The Joint Staff has made it clear that prior predictions of doom and gloom following repeal were misguided and that their respective services are more than capable of handling this change in policy.”

Winnie Stachelberg, vice president for external affairs at the Center for American Progress, said she doesn’t anticipate “much to see” or “bumps in the road” at the upcoming hearing.

“We saw the trailer of the movie last week, and now we’re going to see the full-length film this week,” Stachelberg said. “The service chiefs are all on board, according to their recent public statements. And we’re on track, I think, for certification in the next few months — even before all the trainings are finished.”

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this posting incorrectly stated that hearing would take place on Friday.

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. [email protected]

    April 6, 2011 at 1:42 pm

    Hearing conniving collaborationist cow Stachelberg moo over how the Repeal Slow Walk is as delightful as strawberries & creme makes me throw up a little in my mouth. For those unaware, SHE was one of those who helped set fire to the original REAL repeal bill. Under it: 1. DADT would have been over at least by June 24th, “training” or no “training.” 2. The ban couldn’t have been brought back by a future administration [as it could now] without a repeal of the repeal by a future Congress. 3. Gay & lesbian troops would have the same protections against job discrimination & harassment that other groups in the military have such as blacks and women—which they WON’T have now. 4. The Pentagon could not have denied gay/lesbian military partners any benefits not explicity banned by DOMA such as the very important “military housing” while now they are refusing to extend ANY benefits to gay couples as such.

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Louisiana lawmakers fail to overturn Edwards veto of Trans sports bill

Edwards further said that the bill was “mean” because it targets “the most emotionally fragile children in the state of Louisiana.”



Louisiana Democratic Governor John Bel Edwards (Photo Credit: Official state portrait)

BATON ROUGE – Louisiana lawmakers failed to override Gov. John Bel Edwards’ (D) veto last month of a bill that would have barred trans girls and women from participating on athletic teams or in sporting events designated for girls or women at elementary, secondary and postsecondary schools.

The measure, Senate Bill 156 authored by Sen. Beth Mizell titled the ‘the Fairness in Women’s Sports Act,’ in the Governor’s eyes, “was a solution in search of a problem that simply does not exist in Louisiana,” Edwards said in his veto statement;

“As I have said repeatedly when asked about this bill, discrimination is not a Louisiana value, and this bill was a solution in search of a problem that simply does not exist in Louisiana. Even the author of the bill acknowledged throughout the legislative session that there wasn’t a single case where this was an issue. 

The Republican majority state House chamber failed to override the Governor’s veto after voting 68-30 to override it, according to the state legislature’s website.

The vote narrowly missed the 70-vote threshold needed in the lower chamber to override the veto.

Two-thirds of both the House and Senate must vote to override a governor’s veto, according to the local Baton Rouge newspaper The Advocate.

The Governor reacted to the news that his veto withstood Republican efforts to overturn it in a press conference Wednesday.

Edwards noted that in his view he had “rejected a play” that had no place in Louisiana. 

“I would rather the headlines going out from today be that Louisiana did what was right and best. We rejected a play out of a national playbook that just had no place in Louisiana. That bill wasn’t crafted for our state, I mean go read it and look at the arguments that were made. None of that applies here,” Edwards said.

He further said that the bill was “mean” because it targets “the most emotionally fragile children in the state of Louisiana.” 

“We have to be better than that,” Edwards said. “We have to be better than that.” 


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Federal court blocks West Virginia Law banning Trans youth sports

“It hurt that the State of West Virginia would try to block me from pursuing my dreams. I just want to play.”



Becky Pepper-Jackson (Photo credit: ACLU/Raymond Thompson)

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A judge of the United States District Court, Southern District of West Virginia ruled Wednesday that 11-year-old Becky Pepper-Jackson must be allowed to try out for the girls’ cross-country and track teams at her school, blocking West Virginia from enforcing a law that bans transgender girls and women from participating in school sports. 

The ruling came in the lawsuit challenging the ban filed by Lambda Legal, the American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of West Virginia, and Cooley LLP.

“I am excited to know that I will be able to try out for the girls’ cross-country team and follow in the running shoes of my family,” said Becky Pepper-Jackson, the plaintiff in the lawsuit. “It hurt that the State of West Virginia would try to block me from pursuing my dreams. I just want to play.”

West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice signed H.B. 3293 into law at the end of April. It was one of hundreds of anti-LGBTQ bills pushed in state legislatures across the country in 2021. During legislative debate, it was not endorsed by any mainstream sporting or health organizations. A similar law in Idaho was blocked by a federal court in 2020, and a federal court in Connecticut recently dismissed a challenge to policies that allow all girls, including girls who are transgender, to participate on girls’ sports teams. Legal challenges are underway against similar laws passed in other states.

The Supreme Court recently refused to disturb Gavin Grimm’s victory at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, where he prevailed in challenging his school’s anti-transgender discrimination against him. This decision — which is binding precedent in West Virginia federal court — said that federal law protects transgender students from discrimination in schools.

“This is great news for Becky, and while our work is not done yet, today’s ruling jibes with similar rulings in other courts across the country,” said Avatara Smith-Carrington, Tyron Garner Memorial Law Fellow, Lambda Legal. “It is our hope that courts recognize and address discrimination when they see it, and nowhere is it more visible than in these stark attacks against trans youth.”

“Becky — like all students — should have the opportunity to try out for a sports team and play with her peers,” said Josh Block, senior staff attorney with the ACLU LGBTQ & HIV Project. “We hope this also sends a message to other states to stop demonizing trans kids to score political points and to let these kids live their lives in peace.” 

“We’ve said all along this cruel legislation would not survive a legal challenge, and we’re encouraged by the court’s decision today,” said ACLU-WV Legal Director Loree Stark. “We hope trans kids throughout West Virginia who felt attacked and wronged by the passage of this legislation are feeling empowered by today’s news.”

“We are extremely gratified — for Becky, and for all trans youth — at the court’s recognition that the law and the facts clearly support treating people who are transgender fairly and equally. Discrimination has no place in schools or anywhere else,” said Kathleen Hartnett of Cooley LLP.

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Conservative groups attack proposed Alabama capital city’s LGBTQ law

Allege law requires Christians to violate their religious beliefs



Alabama State Capitol, HIV, gay news, Washington Blade
Alabama State Capitol (Blade file photo by Michael Key)

MONTGOMERY – The Alabama capital’s City Council is being urged to reject a proposed ordinance that would make sexual orientation and gender identity protected classes under the law.  Matthew Clark, the Executive Director of the conservative Alabama Center for Law and Liberty sent a letter on behalf of his group and six allied organizations asking the Council to abandon a vote implementing the ordnance.

According to the letter, the groups allege that the law would require Christians to violate their religious beliefs or face fines under certain circumstances. Prominent among the other signatures is Mathew D. Staver, Chairman of Liberty Counsel which the Southern Poverty Law Center lists as an extremist anti-LGBTQ hate group.

The SPLC, which has its headquarters in Montgomery, writes; “The Liberty Counsel has also been active in the battle against same-sex marriage and hate crimes legislation, which it claimed in a 2007 news release to be “’thought crimes’ laws that violate the right to freedom of speech and of conscience” and will “have a chilling effect on people who have moral or religious objections to homosexual behavior.” In that same release, the Liberty Counsel falsely claimed that the brutal murder of Matthew Shepard in Laramie, Wyo., had nothing to do with homosexuality, but instead was “a bungled robbery.”

In the letter Clark noted; ““As we read the ordinance, churches could be fined if they refuse to allow transgender people to use the bathroom of their choice, and they might be fined if they refused to let same-sex couples use their facilities for weddings,” Clark said. “They could also be fined if they declined to hire non-ministerial personnel, such as facility managers or secretaries, whose sexual orientation or gender identity contradicts the tenants of the church’s faith.”

“Christian schools, small business owners, and homeowners are also in the crosshairs. Schools could face liability if they decline to let transgender students use the locker rooms of their choice,” Clark said. “Small business owners like Jack Phillips [referring to Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission] could face liability. And homeowners who list their homes on Airbnb could be fined if they declined to let a same-sex couple engage in sexual activities in their home that violate the tenants of their faith.”

Clark then warned the City Council that if it passes the ordinance, litigation could result and the City would likely lose.

The Montgomery Advertiser reported last month that City Mayor Steven Reed said a council vote in favor of the LGTBQ nondiscrimination ordinance that’s now being drafted in Montgomery would send a message. 

“There are signals that communities can send, and this is an important signal not only to those residents that live here right now but people all over the country that have maybe one idea of Alabama and Montgomery, and we want to show them that there’s a different reality here,” he said. 

Reed and his team have been working with the Human Rights Campaign and other advocacy groups to draft an ordinance that would expand protections for LGBTQ residents in the state’s capital city. The proposed measure, which would specifically target discrimination in government, employment and housing based on sexual orientation or gender identity the Advertiser reported.

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