Valerie Larabee, a ten-year veteran of the Air Force who retired in 1995 is proud of her service and now runs the Utah Pride Center. The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday refused to hear arguments in a case challenging the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy. (Francisco Kjolseth/The Salt Lake Tribune)
In her final year in the military, Air Force mortuary officer Valerie Larabee was called upon to care for four families grieving the suicides of fellow airmen.
"It really impacted me emotionally, but I couldn't even go to the base chaplain to talk about it, because I was just so fearful," she said. "I knew that he would ask, 'Who else do you have in your life that can help comfort you?' And I knew I couldn't tell him."
The U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear arguments Monday in a case challenging the constitutionality of the military's controversial "don't ask, don't tell" policy, which bans openly gay people from serving in the U.S. military.
Gay-rights activists, including Larabee, the director of the Utah Pride Center, decried the court's decision, which let stand a lower court ruling in favor of the ban. They said it would permit the military to continue to treat tens of thousands of gay and lesbian service members as second-class citizens.
"I am really hopeful about how things are going in our country right now and I feel like we have some tremendous opportunities," Larabee said. "But this is disappointing."
She's hopeful? Why? Does she know something we don't? Ahem. I assume she means because of Obama, though honestly - I just continue to be boggled by this - he has done NOTHING for our community, and CONTINUES to do nothing, and people STILL think he will?? Oh, but wait - there are REASONS why we're at the back of the bus:
Noting the ongoing wars and the nation's floundering economy, Larabee said she understands there are other pressing matters for Congress, the White House and the nation's highest court to consider.
"But do I think our issues are every bit as important as those? Yes, I absolutely do," she said, adding that she wished the court would have taken up the case.
But ya know what? If our President and Congress can decide to take over our banks and our private companies in such a short amount of time, something that was NOT on the (SPOKEN) Obama agenda, why the hell haven't they gotten to this?? I mean, really - they have a MAJORITY - they should be able to take care of this in one day, right? That is, if they really intend to do anything about it. Here, I'll even write it for them: "Because 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell" treats US Citizens in an unequal manner under the law; because we are losing tremendous assets as a result of this flawed law; because being homosexual does not in anyway impede one's ability to serve one's country as numerous allies have well demonstrated; we hereby repeal this biased law, and will reinstate ALL military personnel dismissed under this law who wish to return to service immediately." There ya go. I'm giving you that for free. No charge. Take it.
Ahem. Then, maybe we could get back people like Lt. Choi, and Larabee:
Larabee spent 10 years in an Air Force uniform before resigning her commission in 1995 -- two years after the Clinton-era law, which was thought of by many as a step forward for gay rights -- went into effect. She said that she would have liked to have continued serving her country, but she couldn't keep living a lie.
"I would still be in the military today if I didn't have to lie about who I am," she said. "My military service is the thing that I'm most proud of in my life."
Having to keep secrets from those who are supposed to be brothers and sisters in arms "ends up causing a lot of anxiety," she said. "It's shameful that we should have to do that."
Uh, yeah - that's putting it mildly. Once again, people seem to be lieve the rhetoric instead of the reality:
But gay service members might not have to keep up the pretense for long. Author Nathaniel Frank said he figures the policy might last another two years, given the country's need for service members at a time of war and a national sentiment he believes is moving in the direction of gay rights.
In his book Unfriendly Fire: How the Gay Ban Undermines the Military and Weakens America , Frank writes that gay service members have been forced out of service since the Revolutionary War. The first recorded case was in 1778, when Lt. Gotthold Enslin was kicked out of the Army in a ceremony in which an officer's sword was broken over his head after he was caught in bed with another soldier.
Set against 230 years of military history, Frank said, Monday's ruling is a blip on the radar.
"I wouldn't think too much of this," he said. "The court has a tradition of deferring to military and congressional judgment."
He believes that President Barack Obama, though slow out of the gate on ending the ban as promised during his campaign, "still wants and needs this -- and it should be played out not in the courts, but at the White House and in Congress."
I mean, really - if Obama can take the time to give a command for Stephen Colbert's hair to be cut, you don't think he can place a phone call to Pelosi and Reid and tell them to get this done NOW? Please. Okay. Just keep telling yourself that if it makes you feel better, but bear in mind that this "belief" affects a lot of people.
Still, there is some light on this - not coming from Obama, of course:
There appears to be some movement on the issue in Congress, where California Democratic Rep. Ellen Tauscher has convinced 150 of her House colleagues to co-sponsor a bill that would end the ban. The Obama Administration, meanwhile, has made no specific move toward ending it and has declined to step in to stop the dismissal of gay service members, such as West Point graduate and Iraq War veteran Lt. Dan Choi. He is being processed for discharge from the Army after publicly disclosing that he is gay.
In an open letter to the president, the New York National Guard member took issue with the idea that his sexuality was a detriment to good order and discipline in his unit.
Much to the contrary, he wrote, "I refuse to lie to my commanders. I refuse to lie to my peers. I refuse to lie to my subordinates. I demand honesty and courage from my soldiers. They should demand the same from me."
More than 230 service members (emphasis mine) have been kicked out of the military under the policy since Obama took office, according to the Service Members Legal Defense Fund.
We have only heard about the very tip of the iceberg, as I have said before. We have only heard about people like Lt. Choi who decided to "make a federal case" out of it. TWO HUNDRED AND THIRTY service members have already been kicked out. But people like Larabee use the excuse of us being in two wars as a rational for why Obama has not done anything about this yet? That is opposite world thinking, in my opinion - it is PRECISELY because we are in two wars now that we NEED to keep all of the people who are willing to fight for this country, not lose them over some ill-founded, homophobic, backwards, illogical, hateful law. We could USE an Arabic linguist like Lt. Choi at a time like this, don't you think?
Repeal the law - it cannot POSSIBLY take that long. Like I said, look how fast Obama got some other things done he wanted done. If he wanted this law repealed already, he would have. Rather, Obama chose to not even weigh in on this to the Supreme Court. LOOK AT THE FACTS, not the rhetoric!
Here's the bottom line to the LGBT community: STOP MAKING EXCUSES FOR THIS GUY. Stop humiliating yourselves hoping, crossing your fingers, and wishing that Obama is going to do right by you because he said he would, or because you think he's "dreamy." Had you opened your eyes and paid attention to his actions (or lack thereof) over the course of his political career, or the people with whom he chooses to surround himself, you wouldn't have picked the guy you thought was "cool." You would have supported the person who has stood with YOU for years. But you didn't. And here we are, no farther along for it.
Aren't you TIRED of begging for the crumbs to drop from the table?? Aren't you ready to be a guest at the table, where you belong?? All the excuses in the world for Obama do nothing but let him off the hook, and diminish YOU. Seriously, you, we, deserve better. Deep down inside, you must know that is true. At least I HOPE you do...