The White House has refused to allow gay military families to attend an event for military families.
Shortly before the event began at noon, Servicemembers United, which represents gay and lesbian troops and veterans, complained that the White House had barred civilian representatives of gay and lesbian military families from the event.
This was an event organized by the first lady to honor military families. Seems apolitical enough to me. But they didn't think gays should be allowed to attend the service, even though gays have served in the military since the Revolutionary War and gays (I'm told) have families and support the military, too.
The White House has been hyping the launch of Michelle Obama's campaign for military families. The Obama administration even recruited Stanley McChrystal, the General Obama fired last year to run the program:Nearly a year after President Barack Obama fired Gen. Stanley McChrystal as his top commander in Afghanistan, the White House has asked him to head a new advisory board to support military families.So, guess who isn't included?
Pretty interesting that the Obama administration would recruit a man who personally attacked him to head this initiative and then kick a part of his base out of the event. Illuminating.
But it gets even more interesting. They're banning gays from this because, they say, DADT is still in effect:
In a statement to The Advocate, Kristina Schake, communications director for Mrs. Obama, said, “The president has been crystal clear that the Administration is moving forward with the repeal of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ quickly and efficiently. However, it still remains the law. The White House, including the first lady and Dr. Biden, look forward to working with the families of gay and lesbian service members after certification occurs and repeal goes into effect.”
This is something we've been trying to tell everyone since the bill was passed. And as you can see it is still affecting things. There are still even a number of discharge hearings pending for servicemembers who are gay and being kicked out due to DADT.
Aubrey Sarvis of SLDN recently told Joe Sudbay of Americablog:
SLDN doesn't reveal the specifics in the cases it's working on because of attorney-client privilege. But, Aubrey told me their lawyers still have approximately 100 open cases right now. And, these are only the cases SLDN knows about because servicemembers have contacted the organization. Since the President signed the legislation, new DADT investigations have been initiated. Last month, one of SLDN's clients in the Midwest was recommended for discharge under DADT. They'll continue fighting that case, but it is stark evidence that some commands are not letting up. Fortunately, in that same command, another servicmember won his board hearing in March.
If the law is being used by the First Lady to kick gays out of a White House event, and if it's still being used for intimidation of gay soldiers, then what else?
The Advocate gives some examples of the problems servicemembers are still facing:
Last month advocacy groups and LGBT organizations including Servicemembers United, Outserve, Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, and the Human Rights Campaign met with defense officials to discuss ongoing concerns related to repeal, including benefits for families of gay service members. Though the Defense of Marriage Act bans many benefits, advocates have pressed the Pentagon to devise solutions not prohibited by DOMA, as agencies such as the State Department have done.
Partners of gay service members are not only denied crucial benefits such as health care but are faced with day-to-day limitations including access to child care and commissaries. “We’re a lot tougher than people give us credit for. That said there are some challenges and difficulties,” said one partner of an active duty gay service member who requested he not be named. “At the moment, I can’t even buy a stamp on base. That’s pretty sad. Our primary interest is just being treated the same as other military families. We’re not looking for anything novel beyond that.” (Click here for a Monday op-ed written by another gay military partner, posted at LGBT POV.)
Two leaders of those groups have said they don't think DADT should impede the inclusion of gays in the event:
Alex Nicholson, executive director of Servicemembers United, a group that represents gay and bisexual troops, said the exclusion was unwarranted.
“There is really no reason to continue to exclude gay families or their advocates from the first lady's events for military families and military family advocates,” he told the magazine's website.
The executive director of Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN) said in a statement released Monday that he understood the first lady's decision but added that the exclusion highlights the need to quicken the pace of repeal.
“The first lady's welcomed visits to our military bases underscores why we need certification and repeal sooner rather than later, hopefully before the end of this quarter,” (Aubrey) Sarvis said.
I wonder what the deal is. We are part of military families, too.