Tag Archives: discrimination

Jerry Buell Is A Bad Teacher!


There’s this story in the local press regarding a teacher in Mt. Dora, Florida, Jerry Buell, who was suspended for posting what one could consider hatred towards gays on his personal Facebook page.

‘A Florida high school’s “Teacher of the Year” has been suspended for an anti-gay post he wrote on his Facebook page last month.

Jerry Buell, a history teacher at Mount Dora High School in Mount Dora, Fla. wrote on his Facebook page that he “almost threw up” when he was having dinner and news came on of New York’s decision to allow same-sex marriage showed up July 25.

“If they want to call it a union, go ahead,” Buell wrote, according to ClickOrlando.com. “But don’t insult a man and woman’s marriage by throwing it in the same cesspool as same-sex whatever! God will not be mocked. When did this sin become acceptable???”

Left out of the above, but included in a story on FOX Radio, was this statement from Buell:

“And now they showed two guys kissing after their announcement.”

See…here’s the deal, Mr. Buell. You, Sir, are a teacher. Teachers are role models for students, who often look up to them for advice when troubled. Your job is to guide the student in the quest to make his or her own logical decision regarding a topic, not to give them your personal opinion.

You are there to instruct the student, not pontificate. That includes posting on a Facebook page that you made public by choice. Do you have students as friends on your Facebook page? Do your students view your Facebook page? Of course they do.

Therefore, you have failed in your responsibilities as a teacher.


I’m not going to delve into your supposed First Amendment rights. Your obligation to your students trumps any rights of personal expression you may feel you have in the public atmosphere.

Teacher of the Year? You don’t deserve that honor, Sir.

NOTE: Discussion of this topic can be found on my forum.You’re welcome to join in!

The Right Thing To Do


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 was THE RIGHT THING TO DO.

You Just Don’t Realize It Yet…


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.

DADT is dead. You just don’t realize it yet.

The End of The Line: Permitting Hate in the Military


Allan Schindler

Joseph Rocha

Kyle Lawson

Barry Winchell

August Provost

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:

rochaI 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.

Today, the only group of people NOT PROTECTED against hate are our gays in the military. These men and women, guardians of our nation, are at the end of the line when it comes to protection for hate. Why?

It’s time to immediately suspend DADT, pending legislative action in Congress. Please contact the President HERE to request his immediate action.

Army Secretary: End DADT


danchoi

Lt Dan Choi: American Hero

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.

Unfortunately, the protections provided to gay victims of hate do not transfer to gays in the military as long as DADT exists.

Let’s hope that in the next few months we’ll see additional freedoms provided to our gay brothers and sisters in the military.

Now, That’s a March!


slide_3137_44420_largeRemember last month when the right wing tea partiers had their little march on Washington? Organized by the leader of the Republican Party, Glenn (Crybaby) Beck, supported by and advertised on Fox News ad nauseum for well over three months, this march was supposed to show the world that the Obama Hater Racist Homophobic Secessionists were out there in droves. Hell, I remember claims were made by national names like Michele Malkin, Beck, and the former leader of the Republican Party, Rush Limbaugh, that nearly one (No! Two!) million people attended! They even posted pictures on the internet of the crowds gathered in the Square! Unfortunately, those were fake pictures (YOU LIE!) and nowhere near one million attended the march. The correct number was estimated at around 60,000 – 70,000. And they all ended up bitching about the public transit system.

Flash forward to this past weekend. A new group of Americans descended upon Washington. With numbers estimated at 150,000 Gay, lesbian, bi, and transgendered men and women of all colors gathered demanding that their voices be heard. From Washington Monthly:

Tens of thousands of gay-rights activists marched Sunday in Washington to show President Obama and Congress that they are impatient with what they consider piecemeal progress and are ready to fight at the federal level for across-the-board equality, including for the right to marry and the right to serve in the military.

Key votes on same-sex marriage are coming up in the District and Maine, and Obama reiterated his campaign promise Saturday to end the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy that forces gay and lesbian members of the armed forces to keep their sexual orientation a secret.

But organizers of the National Equality March and its participants said they want to shift the political effort toward seeking equality in all states, rather than accepting just local and state-level victories.

Amen! So there were more gays marching on Washington than right wing idiots! slide_3137_44409_largeNow who’s the minority!

Even more important, there were no signs comparing our President to Hitler or Stalin or other such hate. Just a well behaved crowd of American citizens demanding equality.

And I’ll bet they didn’t even bitch about the public transportation!

The Murder of August Provost: A Little Too Convenient?


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 wasprovost 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 “hateevil 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.