US Military Catches Up With Rest of World, Enters 21st Century.

Perhaps the most telling aspect of this is the final margin – 65 to 31 – and the eight Republican senators who voted for repeal.

The evidence has been growing for months, and this is the most conspicuous result so far: some Republican politicians are realising that homophobia is no longer a sure vote-winner, and may be willing to come down on the side of justice/or common sense.

Bill Browning at Bilerico:

Legislation was passed in Congress not in spite of including pro-gay portions; it was passed specifically in support of our civil rights. This item will be the tipping point that vastly accelerates our community.

This has huge implications for the prospects for advances on gay marriage/civil unions next year, notably in New York and Colorado.

Obama to sign law ending military gay ban

The Associated Press – ?8 minutes ago?

WASHINGTON (AP) — In a historic vote for gay rights, the Senate agreed on Saturday to do away with the military’s 17-year ban on openly gay troops and sent 

Six Republicans push ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ over the top

Politico (blog) – Shira Toeplitz – ?24 minutes ago?

Scott Brown and Lisa Murkowski are among the Republicans who voted to end debate. | AP Photos Close By SHIRA TOEPLITZ | 12/18/10 2:24 PM EST Updated: 

Senate votes to repeal ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’

Washington Post – Ed O’Keefe – ?35 minutes ago?

After the House voted to repeal the policy in mid-December 2010, the Senate took on the issue in an unusual Saturday session. By Ed O’Keefe The Senate voted 

U.S. Senate acts to end military ban on gays

Reuters – ?36 minutes ago?

WASHINGTON Dec 18 (Reuters) – A majority of the US Senate on Saturday voted to repeal the ban against gays serving openly in the US military. 

Senate Votes To End Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell

Huffington Post – ?47 minutes ago?

WASHINGTON — The Senate voted 65-31 on Saturday to end Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, defeating a 17-year policy of banning gay and lesbian service members from 

Senate repeals ban on gays openly serving in military

CNN International – Ted Barrett – ?48 minutes ago?

By the CNN Wire Staff Washington (CNN) — The military’s prohibition of openly gay people serving within its ranks is one step closer to ending, 

Senate votes to repeal ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’

Los Angeles Times – Lisa MascaroMichael Muskal – ?52 minutes ago?

The 65-31 vote means gays and lesbians will be able to serve openly in the military without punishment after President Obama signs the bill. Sen. Related articles

The Fall of Rome, Reality Based History – and Gay Adoption

The vocal opponents of family equality are fond of making sweeping statements (in flagrant disregard of the evidence) about how marriage has “always” been between one man and on woman, how the proponents of equality are “redefining” evidence, quite ignoring the ways in marriage has been constantly redefined in the past – not least by the Christian churches. A variation on the theme has been that homosexuality has destroyed great civilizations, such as that of Rome. Illinois state Rep. Ronald Stephens has repeated this claim, blaming “open homosexuality” for the fall of Rome.

In a fun, sane response in the Chicago Sun-Times, Neill Steinberg dismisses the claim, basing his response on, well, historical fact, not what he calls Stephens’ talking points. His most important observation is that the best known extensive study of the fall of Rome, Edward Gibbons “Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire“, concluded that Roman civilization collapsed not because of homosexuality, but because of – guess what? Christianity.

Would that be a argument to ban Christianity today, for fear that it could cause the collapse of modern Western civilization?

The point I want to make is not that Gibbons was either right or wrong, but to heartily endorse Steinberg’s larger point, that grand claims about the lessons of history really ought to be checked against the facts. This is certainly true in the secular sphere, but also in religious discourse. The often -repeated Vatican claims of Catholic “constant and unchanging tradition” are a smokescreen, often used to used to hide the importance of recently introduced changes, as Martin Pendergast noted recently, writing about gradualism in Benedict’s theology.

But today, I do not want to explore this theme of the Church’s constantly changing tradition. Let’s just enjoy, instead, Steinberg’s thoroughly delightful response to rep Stephens’ ignorance. Here are some extracts: Read the rest of this entry »

Military Transitions: Australia Supports Transitioning Soldier

While the US continues to dither over DADT, its military allies have moved way beyond lesbian and gay inclusion, to providing also for transgender service – and full support during the transitioning process.  News from Australia is that military authorities there will not only allow a transitioning soldier to continue to serve after transitioning, they will provide full support during the process (including state funding for the surgery). I known of at least one similar case from South Africa – I am certain there are others elsewhere.

Somewhere along the line of modern history, the myth arose that only hetero males could make good soldiers – completely overlooking the evidence from around the world that in some societies, women, gay men, and transgender people have frequently served with distinction.  Classical Greek history and literature are littered with pairs of military lovers, including the renowned Sacred band of Thebes, which was exclusively composed of such pairs. Similarly, the famed Japanese Samurai mentored younger men who served also as sexual partners. Many African societies had entire regiments of fighting women, including the Amazons of Dahomey and Shaka’s Zulus in Southern Africa. In North America, the widespread institution of the berdache included many instances where biological males adopted female dress and roles – but also fought with distinction in military battles. It is good to see how so many countries in the modern world are putting historic myths and prejudices aside, to focus only on service members’ abilities, and not their genital or psychosexual characteristics.

When with the US finally follow suit?

Tammy (left) and Bridget Clinch.

From the Australia Herald Sun:

Sex-change case through Defence

DEFENCE force chiefs will pay for the sex change operation of a soldier who wants to return to work.

Army Captain Matthew Clinch, who served twice in East Timor, will become Bridget Clinch after gender reassignment-realignment surgery, funded by taxpayers.

Victorian RSL president Maj-Gen David McLachlan said he was surprised the Army was picking up the tab.

“It seems a little odd that they would allow such an abnormal situation get this far,” Maj-Gen McLachlan said. “The soldier involved would be putting themselves in a situation where they would be subjected to all sorts of peer pressure.”

Asked if paying for the surgery was a good use of defence funds, he said: “It’s unusual.”

Capt Clinch is in Brisbane with partner Tammy and two daughters on extended sick leave from her job as second-in-command of the army’s Adventurous Training Wing based at Wagga in southern NSW, but wants her former job back.

Appearing on Seven’s Sunday Night last night the decorated East Timor veteran, who did two tours of duty with the Townsville-based 1st Battalion, said she’d always felt like a woman locked in a man’s body. “There is no difference between what I can do and what any other female can do once I’ve finished all of my treatment,” Capt Clinch said. Tammy, who also trained as an army officer and describes Capt Clinch as her “knight in shining armour”, is angry the military took so long to agree to fund the treatment.

“Matt was a good army officer, I think that Bridget will make a better army officer, they just need to realise it.

“I saw my partner suffering really badly and I helped him. It was hard though because I was helping destroy the outside bit of the man I loved.”

Read the full report

Recommended Books

Naphy, William: Born to be Gay: A History of Homosexuality

Roughgarder, Joan: Evolution’s Rainbow: Diversity, Gender, and Sexuality in Nature and People

Queer Rights, In The courts: GOP To The Rescue?

With LGBT issues prominent in an increasing number of court cases, we are accustomed to hearing conservative outcries about “activist” judges “legislating from the bench”. However, an examination by Joshua Greene at the Atlantic of the key judgements holds a surprise: the judges involved are not democratic activists, but conservative judges appointed by GOP presidents and governors. This should not surprise, of course. The issues are not only”civil rights”, but also two deeply important conservative principles. The first has already been highlighted by the recent DOMA judgement, that federal government cannot overrule states’ rights in their areas of competence. The other is parallel to this, at an even more basic level: government has no business interfering in people’s personal lives. What can be more personal than our love lives?

Read the rest of this entry »

Out in the Forces: UK Version

Over the last year or so there have been many notable anniversaries of landmarks on the way to LGBT equality: 40 since Stonewall (June last year), 40 years since the first gay liberation march (June this year); 20 years since the first civil unions in Denmark (last year),10 years for those in Vermont (June this year), 5 years for the first full marriages in Massachusetts. Here’s one that passed me by – possibly because it’s more difficult to pin it down to a specific date in th year, possibly because it will have been missed by the American media that so dominate our news cycle.

2010 marks ten years of openly gay and lesbian members serving in the British armed forces. Read the rest of this entry »