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Bradley Manning committed treason

‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ is no excuse and he doesn’t deserve our sympathy

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Private First Class Bradley Manning is a traitor to the United States of America, and his choice to use “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” as a defense for treason is a betrayal of all gay and lesbian service members past and present. Whatever his reasons or excuses, Bradley Manning does not deserve the sympathy of the LGBT community.

Upon enlistment into the Army, Manning swore to defend the United States from enemies both foreign and domestic, yet by stealing and publicly distributing classified material through WikiLeaks he turned against his own country and became the enemy. Perhaps his decision was an emotional outburst, reactionary or immature, but it was a conscious decision made by a trained professional soldier entrusted with a security clearance.

Manning not only violated security protocol and the Uniform Code of Military Justice, he violated the trust of his colleagues, the Army and his countrymen. Now that he prepares to stand trial, he has shown himself to be willing to sacrifice honorable gay and lesbian service members to avoid responsibility for his actions. Lawyers for Manning are claiming that his struggle with his sexual orientation contributed to emotional problems that should have precluded him from working in a classified environment. This shameful defense is an offense to the tens of thousands of gay service members who served honorably under DADT. We all served under the same law, with the same challenges and struggle. We did not commit treason because of it.

Log Cabin Republicans have long advocated that one’s sexual orientation should not be grounds for discrimination or dismissal in the workplace. As conservatives, we believe in the meritocracy of one’s labor. Good behavior and excellent performance come with reward and encouragement. Bad behavior and poor performance come with punishment and corrective measures. To justify misbehavior in the workplace because of minority status is detrimental to the morale and performance of others. For Manning’s legal counsel at Fort Meade to suggest that his orientation and/or gender identity be part of a defense or excuse for his behavior is as unacceptable as the use of a “gay panic” defense by a murderer.

As a combat veteran and current reserve intelligence officer, I have testified to Congress that “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” was a hindrance to service member integrity, readiness, security and was a waste of tax dollars. Members of Congress learned that forcing service members to hide or lie about their sexual orientation undermined service members’ responsibility and accountability under the UCMJ.

I told lawmakers that dishonesty was inherently counter to the long-held Army values of Loyalty, Duty, Respect, Selfless Service, Honor, Integrity and Personal Courage. Repeal advocates also warned that dishonesty and lying are security threats. The fact that Bradley Manning’s failure may be a predictable result of the corrupting influence of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” does not excuse him from personal responsibility for his crime.

Today, sexual orientation is no longer a barrier for one to serve their country with honor. It should never be a defense for dishonor.

R. Clarke Cooper is executive director of Log Cabin Republicans. He was a diplomat in the Bush administration, a combat veteran of the Iraq campaign and serves as a strategic intelligence officer in the Army Reserve with a Top Secret/SCI clearance at Fort Meade, Md.

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14 Comments

14 Comments

  1. Mike

    December 22, 2011 at 12:23 pm

    Manning didn’t use DADT as an excuse. The defense was only bringing up those issues as a mitigating factor for the punishment phase. This is an Article 32 military pre-trial hearing, which has very different rules from a normal trial, and the press hasn’t reported on it accurately. The defense was prepared to call many more witnesses, and bring in evidence from the government itself which showed no threat to national security. However, the government *of course* didn’t allow any of this evidence or those witnesses to be called. Hence… all you are being allowed to see is what you have been allowed to see.. the gender identity issue.. which is only a very small point the defense had intended to make.

  2. laurelboy2

    December 23, 2011 at 11:02 am

    Excellent, and I agree that Bradley committed treason for which he has earned a just punishment.

    • Shane Oshea

      September 15, 2012 at 8:20 pm

      You are nothing but a moron, a brainwashed moron at that. Let me guess, you believe everything on the news as well? Read some books, look up some facts and get your head straight. You thinking this man deserves punishment for releasing secrets? You’re a puppet, plain and simple.

  3. Peter the saint

    December 24, 2011 at 12:35 am

    Bradley Manning committed treason? And so did George W. Bush, Karl Rove, Cheney and others. I don’t see them fighting ANY kind of legal trouble. Face it: the citizens of the United States have been in a mental civil war ever since the Bush Administration made the decision to commit our troops to the middle east. Heck – since he stole the election of 2000! The Bradley Manning incident is an example of the escalation of those same internal hostilities. When Bush is prosecuted, then everyone else… well face it: that will never happen. So my guess is that the mental warz will continue. Thanks Bush.

  4. Peter the saint

    December 24, 2011 at 2:43 am

    Hey, how come the writers here never respond to comments online? Afraid of losing your corporate-paid gigs?! Yea, I thought so…… Hmm. Well, writing an opinion is fine. But defending it actually shows if it was worth the paper it was printed on in the first place. Do you hear me Blade???

  5. Steve

    December 24, 2011 at 2:22 pm

    Peter the Saint – You dont like George Bush, Karl Rove and Dick Cheney. Neither do I. They made colossal errors in judgement but they didn’t commit treason. Bradley Manning did commit treason by releasing classified documents that harmed our country. The actions of George Bush in office are not a defense to Bradley Mannings actions. The mental civil war that you are referring to only exists in the minds of a few activist types who hate George Bush so much that they cant put his administration behind them.

    Mike – You say that the defense was prepared to enter evidence to prove that Bradley Manning’s actions didnt endanger national security. I hope you dont believe that. Maning’s actions revealed the secret identities of countless informers who put their lives on the line to help the US. We dont know how many were killed or ruined when he revealed their identities. I consider that damaging US national security.

    • Shane Oshea

      September 15, 2012 at 8:23 pm

      So, it’s not illegal to release secrets that people should be inclined to hear. But it’s not against the law to kill hundreds of thousand of people? I don’t care what you say, you’re arrogant and also, ignorant.

    • MAB

      September 21, 2012 at 9:48 pm

      How did it harm the country? Did you know that one the Afgan War logs documents that the Department of Defence contractor employees hired male child prostitues? Don’t you think that is more important information?! I would want to country to know what they had done also! That’s our tax money paying for them to have sex with little kids and murder innocent women and children!

  6. Mommie Dammit

    December 24, 2011 at 7:40 pm

    I expected a knee-jerk reactionary opinion from you, Cooper, and that’s exactly what I got. No reason, no intelligence, no exploration of the facts – just more of the same neo-fascist tripe we here from your organization whenever you come near a keyboard or a microphone. There is nothing that PFC Manning gave to Wikileaks that hadn’t already, in one form or another, been disclosed in other media. We knew well before Manning that our military and the military industrial complex supporting it were committing atrocities in Iraq, Afganistan, GITMO… the list is long and shameful. Manning is, if anything, a whistle-blower. If you wish to rant and foam at the mouth about someone committing treason against the United States then focus your energies on the real criminals and traitors of the last 20 years. Peter the saint gave you an excellent list to start with above. Until I see those BlackHawk and Apache crews facing charges for gunning down civilians and journalists, then laughing about it, I don’t want to hear another hypocritical word out of you or your Reich Wing sycophants.

    • Steve

      December 26, 2011 at 2:42 pm

      Your comment “There is nothing that PFC Manning gave to Wikileaks that hadn’t already, in one form or another, been disclosed in other media” is absolutely false. In fact, the evidence is that he endangered the lives of countless informers in other countries who assisted the US. We dont know how many people were killed because he revealed their identities.

      Your comment “We knew well before Manning that our military …were committing atrocities in Iraq, Afganistan, GITMO… the list is long and shameful” is also false. There isnt a shred of evidence that the US has committed atrocities except a couple of isolated incidents of soldiers who were prosecuted for their actions.

      Btw, Mommie, you shouldnt attack people personally. You should stick to the issues. Watch, Mommies going to attack me now too. You comments should be deleted if you engage in personal attacks.

  7. Ank90

    December 25, 2011 at 12:17 pm

    Manning is a hero. Why not ask why Manning did not receive support in exploring gender id?

  8. Ay

    November 27, 2012 at 9:43 pm

    I’m a liberal and even I believe Manning to be a traitor. He had choices. Yes, the information he had deserved to be addressed but why was leaking it to the media necessary? There exists a chain of command for a reason. He had an entire Congress full of people he could’ve contacted. He showed blatant disregard for the safety of others. His sexual orientation has nothing to do with any of this. Emotional problems may explain behavior but they don’t excuse it.

  9. Anonymous

    November 29, 2012 at 8:17 pm

    I don't recognnize "treason" as a cirme, although I'm proud NOT to be American.

    However, I would argue that Manning was upholding his oath "to defend the United States from enemies both foreign and domestic" by exposing the corruption within the US military and diplomatic corps. Being physically separted from most of the world, the worst enemies of the United States are (and probably have always been) domestic!

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Opinions

Trend of banning books threatens our freedom

‘History has taught you nothing if you think you can kill ideas’

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National Book Festival, gay news, Washington Blade

I knew Helen Keller was a DeafBlind activist. But, until recently, I didn’t know that some of her books were torched.

Nearly 90 years ago, in 1933 Germany, the Nazis added “How I Became a Socialist,” by Keller to a list of “degenerate” books. Keller’s book, along with works by authors from H.G. Wells to Einstein were burned. 

The Nazi book burnings were horrific, you might think, but what does this have to do with the queer community now?

I speak of this because a nano-sec of the news tells us that book censorship, if not from literal fires, but from the removal from school libraries, is alive and well. Nationwide, in small towns and suburbs, school boards, reacting to pressure from parents and politicians, are removing books from school libraries. Many of these books are by queer authors and feature LGBTQ+ characters.

Until recently, I didn’t worry that much about books being banned. My ears have pricked up, every year, in September when Banned Books Week is observed. Growing up, my parents instilled in me their belief that reading was one of life’s great pleasures as well as a chance to learn about new ideas – especially, those we disagreed with. The freedom to read what we choose is vital to democracy, my folks taught me. 

“I don’t care if it’s ‘Mein Kampf,’” my Dad who was Jewish told me, “I’ll defend to my death against its being banned.”

“Teachers should be allowed to teach it,” he added, “so kids can learn what a monster Hitler was.”

In this country, there have always been people who wanted to ban books from “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” by writer and abolitionist Harriet Beecher Stowe to gay poet Allen Ginsberg’s “Howl.”

In the 1920s, in the Scopes trial, a Tennessee science teacher was fined $100 for teaching evolution. (The law against teaching evolution in Tennessee was later repealed.)

But, these folks, generally, seemed to be on “the fringe” of society. We didn’t expect that book banning would be endorsed by mainstream politicians.

Until lately.

Take just one example of the uptake in book-banning: In September, the Blade reported, Fairfax County, Virginia public school officials said at a school board meeting that two books had been removed from school libraries to “reassess their suitability for high school students.”

Both books – “Lawn Boy” a novel by Jonathan Evison and “Gender Queer: A Memoir” by non-binary author Maia Koabe feature queer characters and themes, along with graphic descriptions of sex.

Opponents of the books say the books contain descriptions of pedophilia. But, many book reviewers and LGBTQ students as well as the American Library Association dispute this false claim.

The American Library Association honored both books with its Alex Award, the Associated Press reported. The award recognizes the year’s “10 books written for adults that have special appeal to young adults ages 12 through 18.”

Given how things have changed for us queers in recent years – from marriage equality to Pete Buttigieg running for president – it’s not surprising that there’s been a backlash. As part of the blowback, books by queer authors with LGBTQ+ characters have become a flashpoint in the culture wars.

As a writer, it’s easy for me to joke that book banning is fabulous for writers. Nothing improves sales more than censorship.

Yet, there’s nothing funny about this for queer youth. My friend Penny has a queer son. “LGBTQ kids need to read about people like themselves,” she told me. “It’s horrible if queer kids can’t find these books. They could become depressed or even suicidal.”

If we allow books to be banned, our freedom to think and learn will be erased.

“History has taught you nothing if you think you can kill ideas,” Keller wrote in a letter to students in Nazi Germany.

Anti-queer officials may remove LGBTQ books from school libraries. But, our thoughts will not be unshelved.

Kathi Wolfe, a writer and a poet, is a regular contributor to the Blade.

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Opinions

Thanksgiving is a time to share

Take a moment to think about what you can do to help others

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This Thanksgiving, many of us will once again celebrate with family and friends around the dinner table. Sadly at too many tables friends and family members will be missing. They will be one of the over 766,000 Americans who lost their lives to coronavirus. May the shared grief over lost loved ones cause us to try to bridge our differences and lift each other. As those of us with plenty sit down for dinner let us not forget the many in the world not so fortunate and think of what we can do to make their lives better.

In the midst of the pandemic we defeated a president who through his words and actions tore our country apart — a president who managed to poison relationships among family and friends. We elected a president who we felt would try to unite the nation. But we know that has yet to happen and the recent reaction to the not-guilty verdict in the Kyle Rittenhouse trial shows us that. The use of race-baiting in the recent Virginia governor’s election shows us that. We still suffer from the implicit permission the former president gave to some Americans to once again give public voice to their sexism, homophobia, racism, and anti-Semitism. That didn’t suddenly end with his loss. While we cannot pretend those feelings weren’t always there it seemed we had reached a point in American society where people understood you couldn’t voice them in public without rebuke. While it will take many years to put that genie back in the bottle we need to try if we are to move forward again. Around our Thanksgiving table is a place to begin. I am an optimist and believe we can do that even while recognizing it won’t be easy.

Thanksgiving should be a time to look within ourselves and determine who we are as individuals and what we can do to make life better for ourselves, our families, and others here in the United States and around the world.

Around our Thanksgiving table we should take a moment to think about what we can do to help feed the hungry, house the homeless, and give equal opportunity to everyone who wants to work hard. Maybe even give some thought as to how we change policies causing institutional racism to ones giving everyone a chance to succeed. It is a moment to think about how we can open up the eyes of the world to understand how racism, homophobia, and sexism hurt everyone, not just those who are discriminated against.

We must renew our efforts to heal the rifts in our own families and make an effort to try to see each other in a more positive light. If we start to do that with those closest to us we might have a fighting chance to do it with others.

I recognize my life is privileged having just returned from a 14-day transatlantic cruise. My Thanksgiving weekend will be spent with friends in Rehoboth Beach, Del., and we will remember our experiences over the past year. For many it also begins the Christmas season and the Friday of Thanksgiving weekend each year Rehoboth Beach lights its community Christmas tree. So surely we will talk about what that season means to each of us.

For me each year it means thinking about which charities I can support as the requests for end-of-year gifts arrive. It is a time to think about volunteering some precious time for a cause you care about.
Wherever you live, there are many chances to volunteer and do your part to make a difference for others. The rewards of doing so will come back to you in abundance. As anyone who has helped someone else will tell you the feeling you get for having done so is wonderful.

So wishing all my friends and those of you who I may be lucky enough to call friends in the future, a very happy Thanksgiving. May this holiday find you happy, healthy and sharing peaceful times with those you love.

Peter Rosenstein is a longtime LGBTQ rights and Democratic Party activist. He writes regularly for the Blade.

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Commentary

Fighting for equality for decades, trans elders still face endless hardships

Lisa Oakley rejected by 60 long-term care facilities in Colo.

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transgender, Gender Conference East, trans, transgender flag, gay news, Washington Blade
(Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

November 20 will mark the 22nd International Transgender Day of Remembrance, an international event honoring and commemorating the many transgender people murdered in transphobic hate crimes every year.

Since 2013, at least 200 transgender people have been murdered in the United States alone, 80 percent being Black and Latinx women. This number is undoubtedly an underestimate, as many murders go unreported and trans victims often are misgendered by law enforcement.

These murders are not isolated crime statistics. They grow out of a culture of violence against transgender and non-binary (TGNB) people that encompasses stigma, exclusion, discrimination, poverty, and lack of access to essential resources, including health care, employment and housing. 

These challenges result in early death. In Latin America, for example, it has been reported that the average life expectancy of a transgender person is only 35 years.

This climate of stigma and transphobia is particularly challenging for TGNB older people, who face extraordinary hardships due both to the cumulative impact of lifetimes of discrimination and regular mistreatment in their elder years. Due to isolation from family and greater medical and financial needs, trans older people are more likely to require professionalized elder services and care. 

Unfortunately, these services and the facilities that provide them are often either unavailable to TGNB elders, or hostile to them. A national survey of LGBTQ+ older people by AARP found that more than 60 percent of those surveyed were concerned about how they would be treated in a long-term care setting. This includes the fear of being refused or receiving limited care, in danger of neglect or abuse, facing verbal or physical harassment, or being forced to hide or deny their identity once again. 

This is a sobering reality. In October, GLBTQ Legal Advocates and Defenders filed a claim against Sunrise Assisted Living in Maine, which openly denied admission to an older transgender woman because of her gender identity. 

In Colorado, Lisa Oakley was, astonishingly, rejected by 60 long-term care facilities, which her caseworker ascribes to Lisa’s gender identity. One facility that agreed to admit Lisa would only house her with a male roommate. 

After waiting far too long for welcoming care, Lisa eventually got help from SAGE and other community supporters and found a home in Eagle Ridge of Grand Valley. Fortunately, Eagle Ridge has participated in specialized training to be LGBTQ+-welcoming. While Lisa feels welcomed at Eagle Ridge and has made friends, she has been forced to live far from a community she loves. 

These cases in Maine and Colorado are just the tip of the iceberg regarding the discrimination faced by TGNB elders. That’s why it’s so important that Congress pass the Equality Act, which would once and for all prohibit discrimination based on gender identity in key areas like employment, housing, and care and services.

And while legal progress is important, it’s not enough. TGNB elders need more equity in their day to day lives. Older transgender people are more likely to experience financial barriers than non-transgender elders, regardless of age, income and education.

They’re also at a higher risk of disability, general poor mental and physical health, and loneliness, compared to their cisgender counterparts.

These experiences have been part of everyday life for trans elders for far too long. We continue to see them struggle with the long-term effects of transphobia and violence every day. That’s why organizations like SAGE are stepping up our support for TGNB elders by investing $1 million to support TGNB-focused services and advocacy both in New York and nationwide.

And we are continually amazed by the resilience of TGNB elders, creating communities built on their strength and courage. 

Their resilience is nothing new. It dates back generations and was evident during the Stonewall Uprising. Over the years, trans luminaries like Marsha P. Johnson, Sylvia Rivera, Victoria Cruz—leaders of the modern LGBTQ+ civil rights movement—and countless others have repeatedly proved that they will not be invisible.  

We see this determination in so many programs and activities led by trans elders at SAGE. 

For example, the TransGenerational Theater Project brings together transgender people of all ages to create theater from their experiences and perspectives. These types of elder-driven programs serve as powerful reminders that transgender older people are leading their lives with resilience, creativity, and perseverance, despite the dangers they face. 

Transgender and non-binary elders have survived and fought for equality for decades. They are brave. They are strong. They are leaders. Here at SAGE, we will continue to walk side-by-side with them as we continue the fight to ensure TGNB elders get the respect, change, and acceptance they deserve.

Michael Adams is the CEO of SAGE, the world’s largest and oldest organization dedicated to improving the lives of LGBTQ+ elders.

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