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Gates urged to certify ‘Don’t Ask’ repeal before retirement

SECDEF set to leave position at June’s end

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Defense Secretary Robert Gates is set to retire on June 30 (Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Supporters of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal are calling for imminent action to implement open service in the U.S. military before Defense Secretary Robert Gates leaves his position at the end of this month.

Advocates of open service say delaying certification for repeal after Gates retires on June 30 could unnecessarily add to the time before “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” is off the books.

Aubrey Sarvis, executive director of Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, said certification is essential this month before Gates leaves his duties at the Pentagon.

“I think that we need to get certification this month before Secretary Gates leaves,” Sarvis said. “My fear is we’re seeing an overabundance of caution here. If it doesn’t happen this month on Secretary Gates’ watch, I think we could easily be looking at another month or two before certification.”

Alex Nicholson, executive director of Servicemembers United, said the passing the opportunity for implementing repeal would be a “very unwise” move for Gates and predicted that certification would happen this month.

“I find it hard to believe that it’s not going to be [Gates],” Nicholson said. “I believe it’s going to happen this month. Everybody all along has always said — with maybe 90 percent certainty that if you had to make a prediction, it would come in mid to late June. If it doesn’t you’re certainly going to see us get very worried and get very vocal.”

Under the repeal law that President Obama signed in December, “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” won’t be off the books until 60 days pass after the president, the defense secretary and the chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff certify the military is ready for open service. Gates has said he won’t issue certification until the armed forces have been trained in handling open service and the military service chiefs say they’re comfortable moving forward.

Waiting for certification after Gates retires, advocates said, could further delay “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal because Leon Panetta, the incoming defense secretary who currently serves as CIA director, may want to examine the issue further before signaling the military is ready for open service.

Sarvis said a scenario in which Panetta would assume his position as defense secretary and within matter of weeks say the armed forces are ready for certification is “highly unlikely.”

“I think that he would want to spend some time with the chiefs and with the troops to make a thorough analysis of the situation,” Sarvis said. “I don’t think that’s something you can do in a matter of days.”

Nicholson echoed concerns that Panetta may want to hold off on certifying repeal to get his bearings straight in Pentagon upon taking office as defense secretary.

“I could imagine a scenario in which Panetta wouldn’t do it immediately — not because he sees it as as problem and wants to delay it  — but because he’s just sort of taking the lay of the land in and getting updates and briefings and trying to wrap his mind around everything, not just [‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’],” Nicholson said.

Spokespersons for the White House and the Joint Staff gave assurances the process toward certification is moving ahead, but didn’t commit to pledging it would happen this month.

Shin Inouye, a White House spokesperson, said President Obama is working with Gates and Chair of Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen as they prepare and gave reassurances the president would make it happen this year.

“He’s been in close contact with the Pentagon to ensure that certification occurs as soon as possible, consistent with the standards set forth in the bill,” Inouye said. “Certification and implementation will happen whomever serves as secretary of defense. As you heard him say in the State of the Union, it’s going to happen this year.”

Capt. John Kirby, a Mullen spokesperson, said his boss will consult the military service chiefs before moving forward with repeal.

“He plans on certifying only when the chiefs have assured them they are ready,” Kirby said.

Eileen Lainez, a Pentagon spokesperson, noted that defense officials previously testified before Congress that the Pentagon is “looking at mid-summer for certification,” but didn’t have further information on an expected time.

But Sarvis underscored the urgency of repealing of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” by saying service members are still facing discharge under the law — even though new rules have been implemented making expulsion under the law difficult.

In October, the the Defense Department raised the authority for executing discharges to the civilian secretaries of the military branches “in coordination” with the undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness and the Pentagon’s general counsel.

But Sarvis said SLDN has several clients under investigation under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and knows of two service members this month who are going before administrative board hearings which in likelihood will result in recommendation for discharge. Others service members may also be in danger of separation, Sarvis said, because not all troops facing expulsion under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” come to SLDN.

Last week, Metro Weekly broke news that a member of the Air Force was discharged under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” although the airman was apparently seeking expulsion from the military because he wrote a letter to the Air Force secretary asking for separation.

“We’re talking about the reality that ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ is still the law and service members are still being investigated,” Sarvis said. “I think it’s fine for the services to be measured in planning for certification but it also has to be in the context of service members are being investigated and discharged under ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.'”

Despite calls for certification, training for “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal in the armed forces is still underway for some services. The briefings for service members on open service have been taking place since February after the leaders of the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps issued guidance on the preparation for “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal.

But even with the training underway, Sarvis said defense leaders have no reasons to put off certification because all the services — with the exception of the Army — have made sufficient progress in their training goals to implement “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal. Notably, the Marine Corps was set to complete the training for the entire service by June 1.

The Army is made up of nearly 548,000 service members and the largest service in the armed forces, so training for this service is expected to take longer than either the Navy, Air Force or Marine Corps. Training for the active component of the Army isn’t set for completion until July 15 and for the reserve component isn’t set for Aug. 15.

However, Sarvis said the Army has made sufficient progress in training to allow for the implementation of open service in the service because more than half of the service has already been trained in implementing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal.

“It’s very hard to make the case for additional month or two before certification takes place,” Sarvis said. “We’re in ‘Month Six.’ Most of the troops have received their training. This culture change has been discussed in varying stages of planning for over a year now, so it’s time to get on with it.”

Nicholson also said training in the armed forces will “be overwhelming done” by the end of June, which he said should enable the president and defense leaders to give the OK for open service.

“Given that the overwhelming majority of people are going to be trained by the point, I just can’t see any rationale for extending it out,” Nicholson said.

Although repeal advocates fear waiting certification after this month could cause unnecessary delays, supporters of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” predict Panetta would be amenable to the change even though he may take more time to sign off on open service.

The Washington Blade was unable to find recent public statements Panetta made on “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” or gays in the military.

However, Sarvis said he thinks Panetta would support open service based on what he’s heard from people who’ve worked with him at the CIA, in Congress or the private sector.

“What we’ve seen and what we’ve heard is that new secretary will be welcoming of gay and lesbian service members,” Sarvis said. “There will be effective and smooth implementation on his watch.”

It’s also possible that Chair of Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen could step down from his position before he issues certification for repeal. However, Mullen isn’t set to leave his role until his term expires on Sept. 30, so certification would be delayed significantly beyond expectations if it hasn’t happened by that time.

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4 Comments

4 Comments

  1. clayusmcret

    June 7, 2011 at 5:59 am

    Secretary Gates,

    You’ve been out there listening to the troops. They are very clearly telling you to just….say…..no.

    • Dakotahgeo

      June 7, 2011 at 10:07 pm

      Silly clayusmcret… just say, “Darn!!! They passed it!!” LOLOL

  2. Mark Conlan

    June 7, 2011 at 4:19 pm

    My fear is that if Robert Gates steps down before certifying the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell,” the policy will not be repealed at all. It’s clear the Republican obstructionists in the U.S. Senate will NOT confirm a new Secretary of Defense unless that person pledges to keep “don’t ask, don’t tell” in place. Having successfully filibustered Obama’s appointments to the federal judiciary and the Federal Reserve board, they won’t flinch at sabotaging the process of confirming a defense secretary without blocking anyone who says, or even hints, that he or she will go through with the repeal.

    • Erik

      June 9, 2011 at 2:26 pm

      While the Senate has filibustered a record number of President Obama’s judicial nominees, filibustering Leon Panetta would be a heavy lift, even for the Republicans. Panetta’s credentials are unimpeachable, only burnished by the fact that during his current tenure as director of the CIA, Osama bin Laden was killed.

      Assuming they would get no Democratic votes, and no Republicans who voted for the repeal in December (Snowe, Collins, Kirk, Brown, Murkowski, Burr), they would have to get every single other Republican Senator to support a prospective filibuster. It won’t happen.

      Mr. Panetta does support DADT repeal, but no Republican will even attempt a filibuster. Panetta is likely to be confirmed by unanimous consent, as he was in 2009 when he became Director of the CIA.

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Real Estate

Helpful tips for homebuyers in seller’s market

2021 has been a great year for home sales

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COVID-19 housing market, gay news, Washington Blade

Without question, 2021 was a great year for home sales. Sellers across the country, in many cases, found themselves listing their homes and quickly having not just one, but multiple offers, many of which were at asking price or above. With limited inventory and high demand, it has been an ideal year to sell—and conversely, often a difficult year to buy. Buyers who are interested in a particular home, or even in a specific neighborhood, often find themselves facing stiff competition to have offers accepted. 

Fortunately, this doesn’t mean that many buyers haven’t had successful and rewarding home buying experiences—just that doing so often means making an extra effort and taking helpful steps to make an offer the most competitive that it can be. With that in mind, let’s take a look at a few helpful tips for buyers in a seller’s market:

  • Plan ahead with mortgage pre-approval: While there are certainly a wide variety of strategies that real estate agents and financial advisors may recommend, and while those strategies might vary depending upon the buyer and the circumstances of a particular market, one thing almost all experts agree on is that obtaining a mortgage preapproval is a smart decision. A mortgage preapproval is an ideal way to reassure sellers that a reputable lender has verified your credit and approved your buying power up to a certain limit. If you’re caught in a bidding war with another potential buyer, having preapproval establishing that you are ready, willing, and able to buy just might give you the advantage you need in a competitive market.
  • Be willing to look under budget so you can bid higher: In this highly competitive market, many home buyers find themselves in a situation where they are in a bidding war with another—or even several other—buyers. In that situation, you may find yourself having to make an offer at, or even in many cases, above, the asking price. This means that you may want to adjust your budget—and bidding—accordingly. Choosing to make an offer on a home that has an asking price that is already at the top of your budget may mean that you simply don’t have much wiggle room when it comes to making an offer over that price. Choosing a home slightly under the top of your budget means you’ll have more flexibility to make a bid that is more competitive and likely to be accepted.
  • Consider offering non-price-oriented incentives: Without question, making a highly competitive offer is going to be the key to increasing your chances of having that offer accepted. It’s important to remember that there is more to an offer than just price, however. Buyers may want to consider increasing the appeal of an offer by supplementing it with other incentives beyond just the dollar amount itself. Examples of such incentives might include things like foregoing the seller-paid home warranty that is often offered as part of the process, offering a shorter closing period, not making the purchase contingent upon the sale of a currently-owned home, or other such incentives. Doing so may give you the edge you need to have your offer selected over other competitive bids.
  • Retain the right real estate agent: Often, for LGBTQ buyers, especially in a competitive market, this piece of the puzzle is particularly important. In many, although certainly not all, cases LGBTQ buyers are drawn to specific areas of a city or community where other LGBTQ individuals live. That means that in a market where inventory is already limited and going quickly, there can be even fewer homes available upon which to bid. When that is the case, you will need a real estate agent who knows the community that you’re interested in, and who can quickly help you identify and take action toward making offers on homes that fit your needs. Having the right agent can make all the difference between a smooth and successful home-buying experience, and a stressful one

Jeff Hammerberg (he/him/his) is the Founding CEO of Hammerberg & Associates, Inc. Reach him at 303-378-5526, [email protected] or GayRealEstate.com

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Dining

Jane Jane brings throwback joy to busy 14th Street

Cocktail bar characterized by warm Southern hospitality

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(Photo courtesy of Deney Lam)

There is no standing at Jane Jane, the new classic cocktail bar in the heart of 14th Street. Its 850 square feet is for sitting and savoring, drinking in the relaxed retro vibe and the thoughtful craft cocktails. 

At the foot of the mixed-use Liz development where Whitman-Walker is the major tenant, Jane Jane’s creative use of a shoebox-sized space brings throwback joy to a busy thoroughfare. 

In the pre-COVID days of 2019, Whitman-Walker approached the Jane Jane owners, hospitality veterans Jean Paul (JP) Sabatier, Ralph Brabham and Drew Porterfield, all gay men, to make good use of the vacant parcel, and ensure it would be run by LGBTQ entrepreneurs. “It required some gymnastics because of the layout,” says Brabham, “but we came up with this cozy classic cocktail concept.” 

The hangout spot is an effort by the trio to “celebrate hospitality. We want everyone who walks into the space to feel like friends of ours we are having over for drinks or a bite. Its a cocktail party in our home,” he says. They felt connected to the idea of a tiny bar—a space where they would want to have a drink.

Named for Brabham’s mother, Jane Jane is as alluring and lively as it is intimate, each detail in the experience characterized by warm Southern hospitality—right from the bowl of spiced nuts that swiftly appear at each table at the beginning of service.

Sabatier, who has held stints at D.C. institutions like Rappahannock Oyster Bar, Maydan, and Compass Rose, oversees the bar and cocktail program, organized by spirit. (For their part, Brabham and Porterfield, romantic partners, also act as co-owners of Beau Thai and BKK Cookshop; Porterfield is also the current Curator and Director of Long View Gallery in Shaw.)

Sabatier has presented classic cocktails with a few noteworthy nods to current zeitgeist, as imagined by his lengthy experience behind the bar. The booklet-like menu includes a broad selection of familiar favorites like a Negroni, Manhattan, martini, but also features Sabatier’s handpicked favorite classics like the Boulevardier (a whiskey Negroni), Last Word (gin married to herbaceous green chartreuse) and Air Mail (rum, honey and cava). Drinks fall in the $13-$16 range; a “Golden Hour” runs daily until 7 p.m. featuring beer and wine specials and a punch of the day. 

Sabatier’s creative juices flow on the first page through cocktails like the vividly named Tears at an Orgy, with brandy, orange and maraschino, as well as the best-selling, highly Instagrammable Crop Top, a gin cocktail with a red-wine floater—and a name that matches the look of the bi-color drink. “It’s fun, delicious, and speaks to the space,” says Sabatier. He notes that their vodka of choice comes from Civic, a local, women- and LGBTQ-owned distillery.

Sabatier, a classically trained chef and Culinary Institute of America graduate, also oversees the small selection of bar bites (the space has no kitchen, part of the required “gymnastics” to make it functional.)

Beyond the complimentary vessel of rosemary-flecked mixed nuts, other bar snacks run from pickled vegetables to a Southern-style Pimento cheese dip and an onion dip creamy enough to make your grandmother blush. The “Jane’s Caviar” dish is a spread of trout roe and crème fraiche and comes with a towering mound of shatteringly crisp chips. A weekend brunch is in the works, which will serve goodies from local bakeries.

The retro-style interior recalls both California and the South, with only 32 seats inside and a 14-seat patio. Cozy booths done up in a hunter green as warm and inviting as a cool aunt are slung below walnut-wood walls and bar. Bright patterned tiles run the length of the floor; the back wall has playful cocktail wallpaper. A charming needlepoint by the restrooms kindly requests of guests, “please don’t do coke in the bathroom.”

The owners note that while Jane Jane is not explicitly a gay bar, its location in a traditionally gay-welcoming institution means that it has LGBTQ in its bones.

“Supporting LGBTQ people, businesses, and causes has been in Jane Jane’s ownership’s DNA at every establishment at which they have been involved,” they say, having supported local LGBTQ+ organizations like Casa Ruby, Victory Fund, SMYAL and the Human Rights Campaign, among others. 

Porterfield says that they were surprised that, given the locale, people assumed Jane Jane was a gay bar. “It’s not a gay or straight bar, just a fantastic cocktail bar that welcomes anyone to hang out with us,” he says. 

Nevertheless, the owners have taken into consideration the significance of being in the Liz development, as both gay men and as part of the hospitality industry. “It highlights the lack of representation as gay owners in this bar and restaurant world,” says Porterfield. They note the lack of women, LGBTQ and BIPOC representation. 

“It’s very special to us that we opened in this space,” says Porterfield, “so we want to show that we have opened a place that is all about inclusivity.”

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Autos

One lean, mean green machine

New Ford Mustang Mach-E is electrifying

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(Photo courtesy of Ford)

Here’s a shocker: Electric vehicles have been around for over 180 years. By the time of the first Hershey bar in 1900, EVs had hit their own sweet spot—surging to almost 30 percent of all vehicles sold in the U.S. But when Henry Ford began to produce cars on his moving assembly line in 1913, the popularity of the gas-powered Model T soon short-circuited EV sales. Cue to a century later, when the debut of the all-electric Nissan Leaf in 2010 sent a jolt through the auto industry. Yet it would take another decade to get drivers charged up about anything other than gas-powered rides. Today, it’s hard to keep track of all the EVs out there, along with other green machines like hybrids. While the current microchip shortage has slowed or stopped production on many cars for now, I was lucky enough to drive the all-new, all-electric Ford Mustang Mach-E. The experience was, well, truly electrifying.

Ford Mustang Mach-E
$47,000
Range: up to 305 miles
0 to 60 mph: 4.2 seconds

When the Ford Mustang Mach-E was first announced, many auto aficionados were left scratching their heads. After all, a Mustang is one of the most iconic muscle cars ever created, and the Mach-E designation sounds suspiciously like the “Mach-1” branding used on flashy high-performance Stangs. Yet this new Mustang is a crossover SUV—and an electric one to boot. While the initial designs were captivating, plenty of skeptics remained. Luckily, they needn’t have worried. I was mesmerized the moment the Mach-E arrived, eager to run my hand along its sinewy side panels and strapping rear end. To keep the design as aerodynamic as possible, there are no traditional door handles. Instead, you use the key fob, your smartphone or a push button on the window frame to pop open the door. 

On the inside, there’s a small latch in the armrest versus the typical door handle. Such design elements are not only aesthetically pleasing, they also save space and reduce weight. Other novelties: This is the first Ford vehicle to use recycled animal-free fabrics, as well as a vegan steering wheel that’s as durable as leather. On the space-age dashboard, the premium Bang & Olufsen speakers are concealed beneath fabric covers that mimic the look of pricey home-theater speakers. And the unique design of the quiet cabin allows for a subwoofer that is 50 percent lighter than usual, yet still retains a deep rich clarity. As for the gigantic 15.5-inch vertical touchscreen in the center of the dash, it resembles a sort of funky oversized iPad from “The Orville.” Along with large climate controls for easier viewing, the touchscreen has interactive maps to locate the nearest charging stations. Those maps came in handy during two weekend trips, as did the heavily bolstered seats that helped prevent driver fatigue but also were easy on the tush. In total, there are five Mach-E trim levels, each with differing configurations for power and range (the distance you can travel on a full charge). 

While even the base-model Mach-E is fast and lively, it’s the high-test GT version that strikes like a thunder bolt. Rocketing from 0 to 60 seconds in just 3.8 seconds, the Mach-E GT is quicker than a Toyota Supra super coupe. And thanks to lower-than-expected ground clearance and a superb suspension, the Mach-E is just as agile. Those grippy regenerative brakes help, of course, allowing you to speed up or slow down using only the accelerator pedal. 

It’s worth noting there are other EVs in the Ford stable, including the electric F-150 Lightning full-size pickup, the E-Transit commercial van and various green machines on the way. By 2030, Ford is aiming for 40 percent of its global sales to be EVs. That’s a great goal for a company that once helped pull the plug on the “electric horseless carriage” but today is leading the charge with its own cutting-edge EVs.

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