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The following is a video (from four years ago) of Capt. Owen Honors, a Navy Top Gun; made while he was the Executive Officer on the USS Enterprise, a nuclear powered aircraft carrier manned by over 6000 men and women.
Purporting to be funny and produced without the knowledge of Capt Honors’ commanding officers, the video is not funny and considering it was made with our tax dollars by the ship’s Public Affairs Office, I seriously doubt Honors’ commanding officers knew nothing about it.
Aside from being unfunny, the video is rampant with homophobic and sexist overtones; as well as simulated masturbation. Certainly not what is expected of the second-in-command on a world-class fighting vessel; and certainly not an example of leadership from a man expected to lead. One would hope this childish behavior has no place in today’s military.
With the misguided furor and protestations of a small number of military officers (including Capt. Honors) over the repeal of DADT, I would think that the military would have far larger concerns with bigots like this in it’s ranks.
Honors, an ex-Top Gun, made several “XO Movie Night” videos while serving as second-in-command on the aircraft carrier Enterprise from 2005 to 2007, presumably to entertain the crew. They’re like Funny or Die joins the Navy: a series of salty Late Night-style sketches, like Honors in his bathrobe, crossing his legs casually while a sign saying “Little XO” stops the viewer from seeing his privates. A clip about masturbation shows Honors vigorously jacking a rubber chicken doll, with gooey white paint splashing on a crewmate’s shoes. F-bombs are deployed with vigor.
And then there’s the material that’s causing the Navy to launch an investigation, as it told the Virginian-Pilot, which found the videos. Making fun of the ship’s Surface Warfare Officers, Honors refers to one as a “fag SWO-boy” and shows a sketch featuring what he calls his “favorite topic: two chicks in the shower.”
Today, Capt. Honors is the Commander of the USS Enterprise. With the impending Navy investigation of these videos, Capt Honors will be released from his duties prior to the planned deployment of the Enterprise in the coming weeks.
In the wake of the repeal of DADT, it’s obvious behavior such as this cannot and will not be tolerated.
Last week history was made. President Obama signed the repeal of DADT into law. This was an especially meaningful moment for me as a former gay member of the military and as a vocal advocate for repeal for several years.
My military experience as a gay male became a cornerstone of my life and psyche. Forsaking two full four year scholarships to outstanding universities, I decided instead to join the military. Knowing at the time that I was gay, I made the difficult decision to lie on my enlistment application. I joined the Air Force in a time beset by the end of the Vietnam War and the beginning of social change within our country.
My military career as a Personnel Specialist started at the 615th Aircraft Control and Warning Squadron in Neubruecke, Germany; a bit of a homecoming for me as I had spent my formulative years in Germany as a military brat, and had just returned to the States less than two years earlier. A small, tight-knight unit housed in an old Army hospital from the post-war period, we worked alongside NATO forces, Canadian Air Force, and the Army protecting and serving our country. It literally was a facility where everyone knew his fellow soldier.
During my years here I enjoyed great success in my military career, having been selected as the unit’s Airman of the Year and was one of four nominated for the command-wide USAFE (United States Armed Forces Europe) Airman of the Year. My personal life was also rewarding me with the completion of my college education through the University of Maryland and a formulative relationship with my best friend whom I care for deeply to this date.
Following my tour in Germany, I was assigned to Ellsworth AFB, in South Dakota. Continuing to be involved in the community and matters that involved my fellow soldiers, I was elected President of the base’s Air Force Sergeant’s Association, and (thanks to my language skills) was nominated for a special duty assignment with HUMINT, located at the Pentagon.
Later, I was transferred to Eglin AFB in sunny Florida, and spent the remaining four years of my military career there. It was during this period that I began to embrace the fact that I was gay, and without a stable relationship since I left Germany, I immersed myself in what I found to be a fairly large gay community in the Fort Walton Beach area. A community composed of civilians and an alarming (to a young me) number of active duty, former military, and retired Air Force members.
Of the one hundred or so Air Force personnel at the Consolidated Base Personnel Office (CBPO) where I worked, there were nearly ten of us who were gay, including the Chief of Personal Affairs and the Chief of the CBPO, a Major.
For many years as a Personnel Technician in the Air Force my job was to process administrative discharges for cause. Some of these were otherwise outstanding men and women, discharged for being gay. Of them, a few just “wanted out”. Others accepted their fate and were willing to move on. Some were the targets of “witch hunts”, and were exposed to the full impact of homophobia in the military. Those I knew, I spoke with at length about my trepidation and the implied hypocrisy of my position in processing their discharge. We agreed that I was merely doing my “job”, and I had to be convinced several times to not speak out as it would affect my career.
I left the military and moved on with my life. Over the years, the fact that I was gay became less of a “chore”. That may be an unusual statement to make, but you must understand first that my entire life, up to this point, revolved around keeping my sexual orientation a secret from authorities: My family, led by a career military man; and the military, led by the institutionalized homophobia fueled by ignorance.
To say that being free from these constraints of society was challenging would be an understatement. On two occasions I was the victim of extreme hate in the form of gay-bashing, with the last incident leaving me seriously injured, physically and mentally, at the hands of a law enforcement officer attending training at the FLETC in Brunswick, Georgia.
As a result, I’ve become increasingly an advocate for gay rights and equality. More so after someone (a former Navy enlisted man) had the following statements to say (on an internet forum) about me a few years ago:
With those assumptions… and your own admission… I can safely say that you falsified government documents to gain employement in a government position under false pretenses. That is a federal crime.
…a guy who admittedly broke the law and lied to his government for almost 2 full decades.
Howey is a guy that illegally served in the military.
The fact that you lied to your employer and broke the law for your entire career.
A man can not serve his country while breaking the laws of the land.
…gay person that made a false statement to gain employment with the government commited a federal crime.
If someone lies about their eligibility to serve, it is fraud.
…you are a liar and should be in jail for defrauding the United States government of money you don’t rightfully deserve.
I’m glad to see current service members don’t agree with those statements, as well as our Service Chiefs, Congress, and a majority of Americans. What I see is the opportunity for gay men and women to continue serving for, and dying for, their country without fear of reprisal and shame merely because they happen to love someone of the same sex.
The President is correct.
It’s becoming more and more obvious that my prediction the other day foresaw the future of DADT, that archaic and bigoted law that has made second-class citizens of our honored men and women in the military for no other reason that they happen to be gay.
When I was in the Air Force, my job was to process administrative separations at Ellsworth AFB in South Dakota and at Eglin AFB here in Florida, including those of gays. Although I occasionally felt a ping of remorse and hypocrisy (why is a gay kicking out gays?) I was comforted by the fact that (as far as I recall) 100% of these discharges were, a. Straights who couldn’t really handle the pressure of military life and just wanted out; or b. Gays who were the victim of the homophobia and hate within the workplace.
Fortunately, I merely processed the paperwork, preparing the documentation, forwarding it to the Judge Advocate’s office for his or her review, then to my Chief Personnel Officer (Surprise: He was gay too!), then on to the Unit Commander (none of these cases were “serious” enough to be sent to the Wing Commander for signature) who signed the package. All in all, it was an expeditious manner to accomplish the service member’s goal: A quick discharge with an Honorable Certificate of Service.
Oh. Back to my prediction. I said:
“Why Would any “next guy in office” take the chance of reducing the size of the military by 10% by kicking out all the open gays in the military following such a pronouncement?”
It’s becoming obvious, day to day as the death knell tolls for the end of DADT, that the simplest way for it to die is happening…
Let DADT die on the vine. Tie up a half-hearted appeal in the courts. Make it so hard to process these discharges that it just isn’t worth the effort, time, or leaving the decision in the hands of five people with a lot more pressing things out there to worry about…like Afghanistan and Iraq:
At present, discharges will now require approval of the service secretary, who would consult with Defense undersecretary Clifford Stanley and the general counsel Jeh Johnson, putting the entire separation process in the hands of political appointees.
Earlier today I was in a discussion on The Huffington Post regarding the Obama Administration’s pending appeal of U.S. District Judge Virginia Phillips groundbreaking ruling halting the military’s ban on gays in the military, DADT.
Espousing my claim in support of the easiest way for the President to end DADT, I noticed the following comment:
Just get rid of this ridiculous policy. But let’s make sure when it’s done away with it can’t be overturned by the next guy who sits in the White House.
I’ve been in support of the President issuing an Executive Order repealing DADT and directing Congress and the Department of Defense to implement the changes necessary to do so for over a year now.
One of the most frequent replies to this mimic the quote above. Something along the line of “Yeah…but if Obama signs an Executive Order the next President can just rescind it!”
I’ll admit that does happen, but not in instances historically crucial to civil rights – such as the Truman Executive Order desegrating the military or Abraham Lincoln’s Executive Order abolishing slavery.
Then I had an epithany and replied to my friends quote with the following:
“Why Would any “next guy in office” take the chance of reducing the size of the military by 10% by kicking out all the open gays in the military following such a pronouncement?”
Apparently, I’m not the only one…
This afternoon, it was announced that military recruiters would accept openly gay recruits. In fact, one of the heroes of the movement to repeal DADT, Lt. Dan Choi, is attempting to reenlist as I write this.
Equality in our Armed Services is near…
(Since I’m busy packing, etc., this year, I’d like to re-post my Independence Day message from last year. As we head closer and closer to the repeal of DADT, and as this country continues two unnecessary wars, it’s becoming increasingly important to stress the need for equality in our Armed Services.)
As we Americans sit outside in the sunshine, enjoying our hot dogs, hamburgers, chips, and beer I ‘d like to ask you to think of and honor those who are serving our country.
Especially those who are forced to live a lie and serve as second-class citizens –
Our gay members of the military.
Over 200 hundred linguists and other skilled specialists in the military have been discharged since Barack Obama took office. Not because they were doing their job – it’s been documented many were the best in their field – but because they were gay.
Can you join 67 members of Congress and join the ranks of those asking President Obama to take action now to stop this disgrace?
Put down the hot dog, hamburger, and beer for just a moment.
Call, write, or email your Representative today and ask that action be taken now, not next month or next year or the next term – NOW! – to finally create equality and end discrimination within our military.
While you’re at it, check out In Their Boots, an informative video essay and website by and for gay military members and their partners. Thank you!
From the “Duh Department”….
For those of you who don’t know, I live in the beautiful state of Florida. Home of our Governor, Charlie Crist, a career politician lacking a political agenda for the State…unless it involves furthering his political career.
For several years now, he’s been flipping back and forth from being a Liberal Republican to a Moderate Republican to a Center-Right Republican to a Right-Wing Republican in his quest to please the Republican hierarchy in our state and nation.
Today, he’s given up on running Florida so he can run for U.S. Senator in a seat (formerly held by Mel Martinez) in what he thought a few months ago was a cakewalk. Hell, he even managed to appoint a Do-Nothing Lackey, one George LeMieux, as a temporary caretaker to the seat in the Senate he so desires in his quest for personal satisfaction, the Presidency.
Yet, Gov. Lisp, as I affectionally call him, has somewhat of a shady past. After a quickie marriage and divorce to a lesbian in the eighties, he’s spent the better part of his career as a “confirmed bachelor”.
Over the years, rumors of his sexuality spread through the Florida government and populace. When I first met Charlie thirteen or so years ago, I was impressed with the fact that one of his “aides” never left his side at functions. A well-dressed, handsome young man. Reports of his dalliances littered the political landscape for years, and his sexuality became “The Worst Kept Secret in Florida”.
Until the day, almost two years ago, when Charlie decided he wanted to be Vice-President. A few overtures to John McCain later, the name of Florida Governor Charlie Crist started showing up on short lists of possible VP nominees.
Unfortunately, Charlie had baggage. A past. So he concocted a whirlwind romance with a handsome divorcee and a quick engagement to her. Then paraded her in front of McCain during a visit to McCain’s compound in July, 2008.
I guess even that didn’t convince McCain or his people, as the chosen VP nominee turned out to be Sarah Palin. But that’s a whole other story!
Which brings us to today…
Charlie’s in a losing battle for the Senate seat he so desperately needs. Losing to an extreme right wing state legislator from South Florida, Marco Rubio. Now Charlie’s in the process of reconfiguring his political stance once again.
So…What does he do? In an astonishing announcement (and another flip flop on a previous stance) regarding the repeal of DADT, the St. Petersburg Times reports:
“We are a nation at war. The governor believes the current policy has worked, and there is no need to make changes,” Crist campaign spokeswoman Amanda Henneberg said.
Yup. Gov. Lisp is telling gays in the military to stay in the closet.
Who are the people named above? They all share something in common. They were all in the military. They were all reportedly gay. They were all murdered, severely injured or faced humiliation and torture at the hands of their superiors.
Their families are facing the shame of (or currently are, in the case of August Provost) the military preventing and/or denying an open investigation into their murders and/or assaults.
In the words of Joseph Rocha, who survived his attacks and described them in an article in the Washington Post:
I can’t say for certain when the abuse started or when it stopped. Now, several years removed from those days in Bahrain, it blends together in my mind as a 28-month nightmare.
Once, the abuse was an all-day event; a training scenario turned into an excuse to humiliate me. Normally we ran the dogs through practice situations — an earthquake, a bomb or a fight — that we might encounter in our work. That day, in a classroom at an American school in Bahrain, with posters of the Founding Fathers lining the walls, the scenario happened to be me. I was the decoy, and I had to do just what Chief Petty Officer Michael Toussaint ordered.
In one corner of the classroom was a long sofa, turned away from the door. When you walked into the room, it appeared that one man was sitting on it, alone. But I was there too — the chief had decided that I would be down on my hands and knees, simulating oral sex. A kennel support staff member and I were supposed to pretend that we were in our bedroom and that the dogs were catching us having sex. Over and over, with each of the 32 dogs, I was forced to enact this scenario.
Lawson, in the interview with the Arizona Star, tells of having to sleep in fear on a cot after having his nose broken during an attack by a fellow soldier because he was rumored to be gay. His attacker went unpunished.
Why is this happening? The Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN) reports that last year alone over 900 cases of hate crimes against gays (in the form of verbal and physical assault) in the military occurred.
This past Wednesday, President Obama made history:
Yet, in signing this historic legislation, the President has further perpetuated the shame of homophobia in the military.
I guess support for ending the archaic DADT can’t get much higher than this, in which the Secretary of the Army, former Republican Senator John McHugh states he Army is ready for the repeal of DADT:
SANTA BARBARA, CA, October 26, 2009 – The Secretary of the Army, John McHugh, indicated this weekend that the Army is prepared to lift the ban on openly gay service if the Commander-in-Chief and the Congress decide to end the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, a prospect that has gathered steam in recent weeks. McHugh, formerly a Republican congressman from the conservative 23rd district of New York, is the highest official inside the Pentagon to express such support. He told the Army Times on Sunday that there was no reason to fear that major difficulties would result from lifting the ban, and that he would help implement the policy change when the time comes. “The Army has a big history of taking on similar issues,” he said, with “predictions of doom and gloom that did not play out.” He also suggested that repeal may come in phases, with early action involving, for example, allowing open gays to serve in some occupations and not others.
It’s good to see even the leader of the Army supporting the repeal, along with Gen. Colin Powell and over 100 retired Admirals and Generals. With historic hearings of the topic finally scheduled in Congress, and with widespread congressional and public support for the repeal of DADT, it’s time for action.
Senator Kristen Gillibrand, leader of the efforts in Congress along with Rep. Patrick Murphy, have secured over 180 co-sponsors of a bill to repeal DADT, including leaders of Congress. From Senator Gillibrand:
Since 1994, almost 13,000 gay servicemen and women have been discharged from the military based not on their performance but on their sexual orientation. In 2009 alone, we’ve had more than 400 of our brave men and women leave the military under Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. This is simply unacceptable. It is time to repeal this outdated and immoral policy once and for all and end the ban on gays and lesbians serving openly and honestly in our armed forces.
To that end, I’ve secured the commitment from Senator Carl Levin, Chair of the Armed Services Committee, to hold the first hearing on the policy since it began 16 years ago. Chairman Levin expects to hold the hearing soon and it’s my hope that it will be instrumental in demonstrating the level of support that exists for repeal not only throughout the country — where polls consistently indicate that solid majorities oppose the policy — but within the military itself.
Tomorrow, the President will sign the Hate Crimes Bill into law.
Let’s hope that in the next few months we’ll see additional freedoms provided to our gay brothers and sisters in the military.
Remember August Provost?
The admittedly gay soldier killed on duty by one of his peers? The one who admitted to his family members that he’d been harrassed on post and was concerned? The one who had nowhere other than his family to turn because of the archaic DADT?
On July 23rd, Petty Officer 1st Class Jonathan Campos was arrested in the murder of Provost.
From San Diego.com:
A sailor has been charged with fatally shooting and burning a gay serviceman last month at Camp Pendleton, but Navy officials said Thursday it was part of a crime spree not related to the victim’s sexual orientation.Prosecutors accuse Petty Officer 2nd Class Jonathan Campos of killing Seaman August Provost during an arson attack against the compound of Assault Craft Unit 5 on June 30, said Capt. Matt Brown, a spokesman for Navy Region Southwest.
Brown again stressed that there’s no evidence of a hate crime or gang-related activity.
So. Did the Navy even conduct an investigation? Or did they determine it wasn’t (according to the Navy) necessary because the gun used to kill Provost was conveniently tied to another case?). The Navy conveniently arrested someone (Campos) suspected of 16 charges, including murder, arson, unlawful entry, theft of military property and wrongful possession of a firearm. Someone who conveniently also attempted to hire a civilian to murder another soldier the day after Provost’s death.
Yet, the Navy spokesperson (Brown) states there’s no evidence of a “hate crime”?
On August 1st, Jonathan Campos, the accused murderer of August Provost – while under SUICIDE WATCH – in the brig, conveniently committed suicide by stuffing enough toilet paper into his mouth to asphyxiate himself.
Don’t all these circumstances seem, ummm….a little too convenient?
Of course they do!
Even the military admits they don’t want the issue of DADT tied into the murder of Provost. From the Navy Times:
…Navy officials said they don’t believe the shooting was gang-or terror-related. They also continued to dispute rumors that Provost was killed because he was gay, despite contentions raised by several relatives and gay advocacy groups who claim the sailor had been harassed at the unit because he was open about his homosexuality.
While Navy officials have denied that the shooting was a hate crime, Rep. Bob Filner, D-Calif., has asked Navy and Marine Corps officials for additional investigations into Provost’s death. Provost “made the selfless and courageous decision to serve his country, regardless of his sexual orientation; he should be treated with honor and respect,” Filner wrote in letters to Defense Secretary Robert Gates; Marine Commandant Gen. James Conway; Col. Nicholas F. Marano, who is Camp Pendleton’s base commander; and Rep. Ike Skelton, D-Mo., who chairs the House Armed Services Committee.
Filner said he was frustrated with a lack of information from the Navy and the Marine Corps, particularly over the suspicion that Provost’s sexuality might be connected to his death, which would raise questions about consequences of the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy.
“They don’t want that discussion to take place,” he said.
Thankfully, Provost’s family, gay rights groups, Rep. Filner, the NAACP, and others concerned with the course of this investigation won’t let it conveniently end without the truth:
The Navy says it will continue investigating a seaman’s killing even though the suspect apparently committed suicide in San Diego County.Navy spokesman Brian O’Rourke says the military owes answers to the family of 29-year-old Seaman August Provost of Houston, who was shot in a Camp Pendleton guard shack on June 30. The shack also was set on fire.
The family says Provost may have been killed because he was gay, though the Navy has said there is no evidence to support that claim.
Petty Officer Jonathan Campos was charged last month with killing Provost, but the 32-year-old Lancaster man suffocated Friday at Camp Pendleton after toilet paper was stuffed in his mouth.
The Navy says Campos did not target Provost for being gay and planned to commit several crimes on base.
Wait. I thought Campos stuffed the toilet paper in his own mouth? I thought Campos committed “several crimes on base” before Provost was killed?
All the more reason for a complete congressional investigation into the murder of August Provost.
Please! Call or write your Congressman and demand this investigation continues! Before it conveniently goes away.