Monday, September 19, 2011

Policy Matters- September 19th, 2011

Front Page Headlines

Why A Heterosexual, Married, North Carolinian Father of Three Cares About LGBT Equality: The decision to put banning same-sex marriage on the 2012 ballot in North Carolina has elicited many reactions from state residents. One father’s blog describes his passionate views on the matter, and explains in detail why everyone should support marriage equality: “It pains me to know that there are people who reject the validity of these relationships…These committed, same-sex couples are North Carolinians. They contribute to the economy, they pay taxes, and they certainly do not deserve to be treated as second-class citizens by anyone.” [Def Shepherd- Blog Post]

DADT Repeal Parties September 20th For Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Service Members: The military's Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy will become history on September 20th, but for active-duty gays and lesbians planning to celebrate its demise, there are still plenty of do's and don'ts to keep in mind. In a blog post Monday, the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN) released guidelines on the types of parties gays in uniform may attend under Pentagon policy. SLDN and other gay rights and political groups plan to hold celebrations in locations across the country to signal the end of the 17-year-old policy that bans open service in the military by gays and lesbians. [The Huffington Post]

Poll: Nearly Half Back Marriage Equality Ban: Nearly half of all Americans support a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage, according to a new poll. However, most feel the issue should be dealt with at the state level. 48 percent favored the constitutional amendment, which define a legal marriage as between a man and woman. 43 percent said they oppose banning same-sex marriage constitutionally. [The Associated Press]

Teen Gets Five Years for Attack on Transgender Woman at McDonald’s: After a teenage girl was sentenced Tuesday to five years in prison for beating a transgender woman at McDonald’s in Rosedale, some advocates for transgender people called the sentence too lenient. "The whole incident is unfortunate and demonstrates the lack of knowledge and understanding, and discrimination against transgender people," said Patrick Wojahn, board president of the Equality Maryland Foundation. "If anything, five years may have been too short of an amount of time for the attack and the amount of hatred that was shown in the incident." [The Baltimore Sun]

Policy Watch

US Lawmakers Seek Delay in Lifting "Don't Ask, Don't Tell": Republican lawmakers in the House of Representatives are calling for a delay in lifting the ban on lesbian, gay and bisexual people serving openly in the US military, saying new rules have not yet been made available. A letter to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta from House Armed Services Committee chair Buck McKeon and Joe Wilson, who chairs a subcommittee, said President Barack Obama's administration has failed to provide details about the new regulations that repeal the former Don’t Ask, Don’t Tellpolicy. [Google News]

Bachmann is Urged to Condemn Bullying: Tammy Aaberg, mother of a gay Anoka High School student who died by suicide, called on Rep. Michele Bachmann on Thursday to publicly denounce the kind of harassment in the Anoka-Hennepin School District that Aaberg says was a contributing factor to the death of her son. The Anoka-Hennepin district, which is in Bachmann's congressional area, is the target of a pair of lawsuits stemming from its "neutrality policy" regarding issues of sexual orientation and gender identity. It also is the subject of a federal civil rights investigation, sparked last fall by allegations of bullying over sexual orientation. Aaberg and five others met with Bachmann staffers at the congresswoman's office in Waite Park, near St. Cloud. They also delivered a box containing more than 130,000 petition signatures from around the country, calling on Bachmann to condemn harassment of gay students in her district. [The Star Tribune]

NCAA Adopts New Policy to Embrace Transgender Student Athletes, Keep Competitive Equity: The NCAA is adopting a new policy regarding transgender athletes. The NCAA says athletes who have testosterone in their systems from medical treatment will not be allowed to compete against women’s teams in gender-specific sports at NCAA championships. They will be allowed, however, to compete against men. Likewise, transgender female athletes must show they have suppressed testosterone for one year in order to compete with on a women’s team. This decision covers athletes who want to participate before, during, and after transition. [Washington Post]

A Question from the Field

Dear Policy Matters,
I've heard rumors that tomorrow's repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell is going to be delayed! Are these rumors true? My son is unsure if it is safe for him to come out to his unit after 09/20/2011.

Thank you,
Patricia

Dear Patricia,

Thank you for contacting Policy Matters. It is true that House Armed Services Committee chairman Rep. Bud McKeon and Rep. Joe Wilson have proposed that Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell stay in place. They claim that because their committee hasn’t yet received a written copy of the policy changes happening due to the repeal, that the repeal itself should be delayed. Fortunately, this was a temporary scare.

A spokesman from the Pentagon confirmed that the repeal will not be delayed: “The repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell will occur, in accordance with the law and after a rigorous certification process, on September 20, 2011...Senior Department of Defense officials have advised Congress of changes to regulations and policies associated with the repeal. We take that obligation seriously.”

The Representatives who challenged the certification of the repeal were incorrect. Under the provisions in the repeal, new regulations must be prepared before it can take effect. The regulations are not required to be issued before the repeal can be certified. This means that the new regulations for the repeal have to be created and ready to go, but the Pentagon isn’t required to distribute them in order for the repeal to be valid.

Your son will be able to speak openly about his sexuality in the military on September 20th without any fear of repercussion.

Here is what the repeal does:
  • Removes the ban on lesbian, gay and bisexual service members from serving openly in the military.
  • Protects lesbian, gay and bisexual service members from being discharged due to their sexual orientation or sexual behavior.
Here’s what the repeal doesn’t do:
Best of luck to your son!

Thank you for moving equality forward,
Policy Matters

P.S. Have you downloaded our new edition of Bringing the Message Home yet? Get your 2011 version of the how-to guide to PFLAG advocacy now and share it with your chapter. Visit. www.pflag.org/btmh for more information now!

Join us for the 2011 PFLAG National Convention and participate in our Lobby Day in Washington, DC!

If you would like to have a policy-related question featured in our next edition, please e-mail rperry@pflag.org with your question no later than September 30, 2011.

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