Showing posts with label Gay Heroes. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Gay Heroes. Show all posts

May 28, 2020

Larry Kramer The Gay HIV Voice in The World Desert Went Were Heroes Go

 So many times I thought he was dead and I felt like someone was getting me punched in the stomach again. Why? His survival and his cutting words to gays and governemnt is something we didn't have before and we don't have now. Well educated, out and with lots of back up from friends in politics and from the rank and file when we had one, it was important to have that voice. 
Larry! you have walked the walk and have done more than anybody would have expect from smebody with no inmune system, liver , heart problems, etc. But you were fucking strong!!!! You did your job as a gay human being and more. So many people I love are leaving this year and I could put my number in but I don't know my number....So Iam just observing which is the worse position a person like me could be in.
"Me"(Adam)                                     ~{^}~

Larry Kramer was one of the first activists against AIDS, back when the disease didn't even have a name. In the early 1980s, Kramer witnessed hundreds, then thousands of gay men die before the government took action to stop the spread of HIV. He became a high-profile, high-volume, one-man crusade against the disease.
Kramer died Wednesday morning of pneumonia in Manhattan, Will Schwalbe, his friend and literary executor, told NPR. He was 84.
Kramer was one of the great provocateurs of the late 20th century (and below you'll see he wasn't shy about using language that might shock or offend). In the 1990 documentary Positive, he told a group of gay men, "I am going to go out screaming so f****** rudely that you will hear this coarse, crude voice of mine in your nightmares! You are going to die, and you are going to die very, very soon unless you get up off your f****** tushies and fight back!"
Kramer wasn't always what his friends called a "message queen." In the 1970s, he was an up-and-coming writer with an Oscar-nominated screenplay for his film adaptation of the D.H. Lawrence novel Women in Love. In 1992, he told NPR's Fresh Air, "I was in the film industry. I was on my way to making a great deal of money; I was not a gay man first by any manner of means until I became involved in fighting AIDS, and because someone close to me died. And suddenly I was no longer the white man from Yale, I was a faggot without a name." 
I am sick of closeted gays. ... Every gay man who was unable to come forward now and fight to save his own life is truly helping to kill the rest of us. ... Unless we can generate, visibly, numbers, masses, we are going to die.
Faggots was the name of Kramer's first novel, written a few years before AIDS destroyed his world. The controversial satire became a bestseller, although some bookstores — including a gay bookstore — refused to carry it.
Kramer had radical makings, even before the day in 1981 when he read a newspaper story about a new so-called gay cancer. He told Fresh Air, "My mind went back to incidences over the preceding couple years, where I had had friends who were mysteriously ill, lovers carrying their lovers around literally in their arms from doctor to doctor, from hospital to hospital, begging for 'Have you heard of anything this could remotely resemble?' "
In 1982, with five friends, Kramer co-founded the Gay Men's Health Crisis — for many years the largest provider of services to people with AIDS. Kramer became furious with the slow response of the medical establishment and the government as AIDS deaths skyrocketed. 
In 1983, he published an essay taking gay men to task for what he saw as their shame and denial. "I am sick of closeted gays," he wrote. "... Every gay man who was unable to come forward now and fight to save his own life is truly helping to kill the rest of us. ... Unless we can generate, visibly, numbers, masses, we are going to die."
The essay galvanized the gay community, but Kramer alienated his friends and allies. He took unpopular positions — railing, for example, against sex — and fought the organization he helped create. Kramer based his 1985 play, The Normal Heart, on his battle with the Gay Men's Health Crisis. Even the character he based on himself was harsh and strident.
The Normal Heart was a hit. Critics praised its polemics and moral courage at a time when AIDS was barely discussed in the mainstream. But Kramer moved more to the extreme. He helped found a new organization, ACT UP.
"ACT UP was a direct action, educational and protest group, primarily," longtime gay activist Urvashi Vaid said. The organization got attention for its in-your-face guerrilla tactics, but back then the group was also committed to serious research. 
"People active in those research committees ended up being appointed by government officials in the '90s to serve on [Food and Drug Administration] panels and advisory committees for the National Institutes of Health — they were that knowledgeable," Vaid said.
ACT UP garnered national headlines with strategically outrageous tactics such as invading church services, outing public figures and embarrassing targets such as President Ronald Reagan, Cardinal John O'Connor of New York and New York City Mayor Ed Koch, who castigated Kramer at a 1989 press conference. "It's very hard to deal with Mr. Kramer," Koch complained. "No matter what you do, you're going to be attacked and pilloried and smeared and slammed, no matter what you do!"
Kramer eventually fell out with ACT UP, too, and focused on his writing. He believed he was in a unique position to write an epic book about gay history. The American People: Volume 1 came out in 2015. 
He told Fresh Air, "I was, for whatever reason, put on the front lines of the battlefield when the war started in 1981, and there are not many writers of us who are still alive. And I know where all the bodies are buried, both symbolically and literally."
Kramer alluded to another writer, W.H. Auden, in a signature phrase: He insisted to friends and enemies alike — we must love one another or die.

December 16, 2019

The Navy Kicked Out Harvey Milk For being Gay, Today The Navy Builds Ship to Harvey Milk for Being Gay

Image result for harvey milk and the navy ship
 Harvey Milk joined the United States Navy during the Korean War. He served aboard the submarine rescue ship USS Kittiwake (ASR-13) as a diving officer. He later transferred to Naval Station, San Diego to serve as a diving instructor. In 1955, he was discharged from the Navy at the rank of lieutenant.

Image result for harvey milk and the navy ship
 The USS Harvey Milk

                               Image result for harvey milk and the navy ship

SAN DIEGO —  Construction began Friday on the future Harvey Milk, a fleet oiler named for the slain gay rights leader and the first openly gay man elected in the state.
Milk was elected to the San Francisco board of supervisors in 1978 and was assassinated 10 months later by an ex-supervisor. His life was the subject of the 2008 film “Milk.”

Almost 30 years before his election, Milk was a Naval dive officer based in San Diego. His nephew, Stuart Milk, attended Friday’s event and said naming the ship after his uncle sends a message to people around the world.

"(This) sends a global message of inclusion more powerful than simply ‘We’ll tolerate everyone,’” Milk said. "(It says) We celebrate everyone.” 

Milk said his uncle was forced to resign from the Navy in the 1950s after being caught in a San Diego park popular with gay men. To be honored now with a ship showed how much things have changed, he said.

Stuart Milk was speaking at General Dynamics NASSCO in San Diego, where the ship is being built. He was joined by NASSCO representatives and San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, State Senate President Pro Tempore Toni Atkins, Assemblyman Todd Gloria, and San Diego City Councilman Chris Ward.

Gloria told the Union-Tribune that progress for gay and lesbian service members has been swift.

“I was a congressional staffer when we were working to repeal ‘don’t ask, don’t tell,’ and you think about how difficult a challenge that was,” he said, refers to the military’s ban on out LGBT service members that were repealed in 2010. 
Eighty-nine cents of every dollar goes directly to children. Here's how it's done.
“Today the Navy’s constructing a ship named after the first openly gay elected official in California,” he said. “It shows the progress we’re making and a deepening of the commitment the military has to include gay and lesbian service members.”

Nicole Murray Ramirez, the chairman and executive director of the San Diego International Imperial Court Council, an LGBT organization, was a leader in the push to name a vessel after Milk.

“When ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ was lifted, I researched, and one guy picks all these (ship) names — the Secretary of the Navy,” Ramirez said.

His organization, which has chapters nationwide, organized a national letter-writing campaign in 2011 to push then-Navy Secretary Ray Mabus to name a ship for Milk.

Fleet oilers like the future Harvey Milk are used to replenish fuel oil and dry goods to Navy ships at sea. The Milk will be the second ship in the new John Lewis class of fleet oilers. The future John Lewis, named for the civil rights leader and congressman, also is being built at NASSCO San Diego.

Kathy Baker, a logistics engineer with 45 years at NASSCO, got to make the ceremonial first cut of steel for the ship. She said it was the first time she’d been selected to do so.

“I was shocked,” she said. “I was honored. Felt all the time, effort and hard work I put in all these years were appreciated.”

While the naming of Harvey Milk is a sign of progress, Gloria said, there is still work to be done. Under President Donald Trump, transgender people are banned from military service.

Stuart Milk told the Union-Tribune his uncle dreamed of a day when members of his community would be accepted, and he knew his advocacy would result in his death.

“I think people should know it’s not Hollywood — he did know that he was going to be killed,” Milk said of his uncle. “He didn’t know who, and he didn’t know when, but it gave him the courage to continue doing what he was doing.”

Stuart Milk carries on his uncle’s work as the founder of the Harvey Milk Foundation. He said Friday’s ceremony was fulfilled one of Harvey Milk’s dreams.

“He dreamed of a day like today, when not only would we have the military honoring LGBT, but we have a mayor from the Republican party and we have everyone that represents the San Diego community coming out,” Milk said. “This would have been un-dreamable for people back in 1978.”

January 15, 2018

A Poor Bronx Gay Kid Becomes AF Pilot and A Multimedia Sensation

How did a kid from the Bronx grow up to be a pilot in the Air Force Reserves and then become a gay multimedia powerhouse?
DJ DoranDJ Doran

DJ Doran is the CEO and publisher of Doran OmniMedia. Doran OmniMedia includes two different newspapers called The Eagle, one, the largest LGBTQ newspaper in the Midwest, is based in Indianapolis. The other is based in Chicago. Doran OmniMedia, also, includes Gaycation Magazine, distributed in the continental U.S., Canada and Mexico, KWIR Radio, an LGBTQ internet radio network and Rainbow Tourism, a booking site based in Australia.
Doran started his working career flying C-130 planes in the reserves for 23 years. His path from flying planes in the reserves to managing hotels and brokering hotel deals to becoming a multimedia publisher was circuitous, at best, and a positive example for anyone in the queer community.

As an openly gay entrepreneur and CEO who came out of the closet later in life, Doran has a lot of insight for queer people looking to chart their own course to successDoran’s Life
While sitting in a coffee shop one day, Doran overheard a gentleman talking of selling his 75-room hotel off the Oregon coast. The hotel owner was frustrated because he felt he was being taken advantage of by his attorney. Doran, having recently retired from the reserves, saw an opportunity and said to the hotel owner, “Maybe I can help you.” Four and a half weeks later, Doran owned the hotel and received a $25,000 check from the seller.
At the time and to the chagrin of his husband, Joe Morales, Doran knew nothing about running hotels. He believed, however, that he could learn anything and buried himself in every book about hotel management that he could find.
Owning and managing this hotel proved challenging. After his purchase, Doran learned that the original hotel owner was in foreclosure with the hotel builder, who still held the note. Shortly after Doran’s purchase, the builder tried to take possession of the hotel. In response, Doran filed for Chapter 11 to get an automatic stay. Doran took the builder to court and lost later that year.
Even though Doran lost the case, he walked away with a healthy profit and learned lessons that have proved valuable later in his career. Armed with more knowledge, Doran and Morales continued to buy distressed hotels until they had five mid-tier hotels in their portfolio.
By the time the economy showed signs of weakness in 2008 and after a stint helping to build a hotel brokerage in Chicago, Doran got out of real estate altogether. After dabbling in a few other industries, he found his way into publishing. After a rough start with a boating magazine that included an attempted takeover and cyberbullying, Doran and Morales venture into publishing again but with a magazine of their own started from scratch.
That’s when Gaycation Magazine was born. Gaycation is the travel magazine for LGBTQ people looking for higher-end experiences. Doran OmniMedia’s inaugural magazine led to the sister Eagle Magazines, KWIR Radio and Rainbow Tourism, all of which are designed to help queer people live better lives and build stronger relationships amongst one another and between the queer and straight communities.
Doran’s Lessons
Throughout his career, Doran has maintained his drive despite apparent failures. He admits to having more failures than successes but says he’s persevered because of his belief in his abilities and determination to succeed. Doran’s naysayers attribute his success to luck, and his response is that luck has nothing to do with success. His success is contingent on his willingness to see opportunities and to learn.
Doran credits much of his successes to his openness in seeing opportunities. As with purchasing his first hotel, many people wouldn’t have seen that opportunity had they been sitting in that coffee shop that day. While luck is preparation meeting opportunity, it’s courage that makes one act. This means one must tune out the external and internal negativity with which we all struggle.
Doran clarifies that it’s not able being fearless in business and life, an oft credited characteristic of successful people. It’s about overcoming the fear we all have. Negotiating deals is scary, but accept that you’re scared and proceed anyway
More importantly, Doran says that he’s not afraid to ask for what he wants, knowing the answer could as easily be a yes as a no. Because of limiting beliefs, too many people, especially in the queer community, are defeated in their minds before they even start negotiating. Doran sees no value in that.
He says, “You have no idea what the other person’s circumstances are when you’re negotiating a deal, whether it’s for real estate or a newspaper. So, don’t be afraid to ask for what you want because your wish and their circumstance may be aligned.”
Doran also believes in the power of education. Everything he’s accomplished he’s done because he’s educated himself. “If someone can read, understand and apply what they’ve read, they can do anything they want,” Doran says.
Looking back on his first attempt at publishing, Doran’s happy it didn’t go smoothly. He says without that experience, he never would’ve learned the lessons he needed to start Gaycation and expand into newspaper publishing in Indianapolis and Chicago. Of his ability to overcome that hurdle, Doran says, “You make your own reality.” You can’t change the past, you can only learn from it and look forward.
With a career that’s gone from multiple successes to failure multiple times, Doran attributes his continued positive outlook to his and Morales’ faith in each other and his belief that “if this doesn’t work out, I can learn something else and that will work out.”
Doran’s Future
In addition to growing Doran OmniMedia, Doran is focused on his LGBTQ goodwill tour, Pride Flight 2018. Doran will be flying a restored DC-3, a World War II-era transport plane, on a goodwill tour around the world. Doran calls it “an around-the-world goodwill mission to promote friendship through civilian aviation” and is intended to clear up misconceptions and hostilities towards the queer community.
For Doran, all his adventures, successes and failures come down to a lesson he learned from his mother. She said, “If you concentrate on being a good human being first and foremost, then everything you do, everything you are, everything you’re involved in will be filtered through that, and you’ll be okay.” 
Cashing in on fabulous with queer money. 

January 27, 2017

MouthButtMilo and More than just Gay, Fighter Roxane Gay

 It’s impossible to adequately articulate how much Gay is the antithesis of Milo. Milo rose to fame as the pretty gay male hater of all things gay, of women, of people of color. He was promoted on the pages of Breitbart news–the extremist website of which President Trump’s chief strategist, Steve Bannon, who on January 26 told the press to stop talking and stop reporting, is CEO.
Bannon, who has also made documentaries for Gov. Sarah Palin and Rep. Michele Bachmann and equated Planned Parenthood with the Holocaust, also said "birth control makes women unattractive and crazy," said women who feel they’ve been attacked online should just "log off" and said in a radio interview in 2011 that progressives don’t like conservative women because they aren’t "dykes." Milo was built by Bannon and Bannon’s protégé is a self-described white nationalist.

{By the Author:JANUARY 2017: Once more from a hospital bed I’ve been watching the eight years of the hard work of the Obama Administration being gutted by President Trump. My anger is wide-ranging, like that of the three million Women’s March participants. But it is also specific to me and the millions of other Americans fight cancer or other diseases who are about to have their health insurance taken away for no reason other than the Republicans hated Obama and Hillary and still do.}
Last year Yiannopoulos alleged that lesbians had the highest incidence of domestic violence of all couples in an article titled "Attack of the Killer Lesbians!" Another article "Lesbian Bridezillas Bully Bridal Shop Owner Over Religious Beliefs," took the side of shop owners refusing to serve a lesbian couple.
Milo was Bannon’s golden boy. There was no one off limits in his screeds, but Milo’s favorite targets were women (especially lesbians) and people of color (especially anyone Muslim). His writing is transphobic and xenophobic and he doesn’t care what anyone thinks. College groups protested him speaking on their campuses while college administrators insisted free speech was at issue.
Currently Milo is on his "Dangerous Faggot" tour, which has brought the "Alt-Right" slithering out, even on college campuses. On Jan. 3, students at the University of California, Berkeley, tried to have Milo banned from appearing. But on Jan. 26, UC Chancellor Nicholas Dirks said Milo had the right to speak on campus at a Feb. 1 event organized by the Berkeley College Republicans.
Yes, Republicans–even the so-called moderates–love Milo because they can point to him as a gay man they "know." They can embrace his virulent misogyny because he’s gay. They can say he’s not a racist because he claims to have sex with black men. They think they can even say the word f*ggot because Milo does.
It has often seemed that there is no one to stand up to Milo. Those of us who have stood up to him on social media have gotten hounded by his many trolls. Those who have written about him have received threats, too.
All of which is what makes Roxane Gay stand out like a supershero from a Marvel graphic novel. She stood up. Bigly.
In these days of The Resistance to President Trump, women are leading the protests. Our protests are taking myriad forms. On Jan. 26 award-winning writer Roxane Gay showed us what democracy–and intersectional feminism–looks like when she withdrew her upcoming book from Simon & Schuster.m
The best-selling author and New York Times columnist announced she will no longer publish her book with Simon & Schuster specifically and only because they had signed Milo Yiannopolous.
In a statement given to BuzzFeed News, Gay explained, "I was supposed to turn the book in this month and I kept thinking about how egregious it is to give someone like Milo a platform for his blunt, inelegant hate and provocation. I just couldn’t bring myself to turn the book in. My editor emailed me last week and I kept staring at that email in my inbox and finally over the weekend I asked my agent to pull the book."
Gay appeared at Indiana University Jan. 25 to a crowd so huge, there were hundreds in an over-flow room. There she explained she could not normalize racism. Gay also revealed–and this is both shocking and utterly unsurprising given who is now president–that Milo’s $250,000 advance is more than the advances for her first five books.
In her statement Gay said she was not calling for censorship, she was making her own statement, which, as she had said in her tweet, she could actually afford to do.
"Milo has every right to say what he wants to say, however distasteful I and many others find it to be. He doesn’t have a right to have a book published by a major publisher but he has, in some bizarre twist of fate, been afforded that privilege. So be it."
Emphasizing that as a well-known and popular writer (and, I would add, much beloved), Gay said she is in a "fortunate enough" position to withdraw her book. "I recognize that other writers aren’t and understand that completely," she added.
Simon & Schuster CEO Carolyn Reidy responded to S&S authors with a letter in which she said in part, "First and foremost, I want to make clear that we do not support or condone, nor will we publish, hate speech," BuzzFeed News reported. "Not from our authors. Not in our books. Not at out imprints. Not from our employees and not in our workplace."
According to Reidy, the decision to publish "Dangerous" was an "editorially independent" one made without the "involvement or knowledge of our other publishers." The book was pitched as an "examination of the issues of political correctness and free speech," Reidy said in the letter.
Reidy explained, "The imprint believed that an articulate discussion of these issues, coming from an unconventional source like Mr. Yiannopoulos, could become an incisive commentary on today’s social discourse that would sit well within its scope and mission, which is to publish works for a conservative audience.” We will need more brave people like her in the coming weeks, months and years. We will need people willing to put everything on the line. We will need people to remind those who can’t stand up that there are heroes walking among us and that their voices can propel us forward.
Gay is the daughter of Haitian immigrants. She was born in Omaha, Nebraska. She has a PhD and teaches at Purdue University. She writes so much it’s hard to keep up with her work.
Gay said she was "putting my money where my mouth is."
Last summer, Gay and poet Yona Harvey were announced as writers for Marvel Comics World of Wakanda, a spin-off from the company's Black Panther title, making her the first black woman to be a lead writer for Marvel.
Roxane Gay is a boss. She fends off haters with aplomb. She makes time to send consoling tweets to women in the hospital and responds to aspiring writers and talks about the movies she loves (you’d be surprised).
And whether Simon & Schuster knows it or not, Gay’s made a statement about them that many of us will not soon forget. 

Victoria A. Brownworth is an award-winning journalist, editor and writer and the author and editor of nearly 30 books. She has won the NLGJA and the Society of Professional Journalists awards, the Lambda Literary Award and has been nominated for the Scripps-Howard Award, RFK Award and the Pulitzer Prize. She won the 2013 SPJ Award for Enterprise Reporting. She is a regular contributor to The Advocate and SheWired, a blogger for Huffington Post and A Room of Her Own, senior politics reporter and contributing editor for Curve magazine, contributing editor for Lambda Literary Review and a columnist for San Francisco Bay Area Reporter. Her reporting and commentary have appeared in the New York Times, Village Voice, Baltimore Sun, Los Angeles Times, Boston Globe, Philadelphia Inquirer, The Nation, Ms Magazine, Diva and Slate. Her book, Coming Out of Cancer: Writings from the Lesbian Cancer Epidemic won the Lambda Literary Award, From Where We Sit: Black Writers Write Black Youth won the 2012 Moonbeam Award for cultural & historical fiction. Her new novel, Ordinary Mayhem, won the IPPY Award for fiction and the Lambda Literary Award for Lesbian Mystery. Her book Erasure: Silencing Lesbians and her next novel, Sleep So Deep, will both be published in fall 2017. @VABVOX

This portion of Victoria’s writing  and the entire post on Curve Magazine. As always tittle and editing by adamfoxie blog

July 29, 2016

Ship Being Name After Legendary Harvey Milk

 Harvey Milk Spent 1951-55 as being a sailor
The Navy is set to name a ship after the gay rights icon and San Francisco politician Harvey Milk, according to a Congressional notification obtained by USNI News.

The July 14, 2016 notification, signed by Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus, indicated he intended to name a planned Military Sealift Command fleet oiler USNS Harvey Milk (T-AO-206). The ship would be the second of the John Lewis-class oilers being built by General Dynamics NASSCO in San Diego, Calif.

The Secretary of the Navy’s office is deferring additional information until the naming announcement, a Navy official told USNI News on Thursday.

Mabus has said the John Lewis-class – named after civil rights activist and congressman Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) – would be named after civil rights leaders.

Other names in the class include former Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren whose court ruled to desegregate U.S. schools, former Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, women’s right activist Lucy Stone and abolitionist and women’s rights activist Sojourner Truth.

Screen Shot 2016-07-28 at 1.10.13 PMMabus has also named ships in the past for other civil rights icons, including the Lewis and Clark-class dry cargo ships USNS Medgar Evers (T-AKE-13) and USNS Cesar Chavez (T-AKE-14).

Milk came from a Navy family and commissioned in the service in 1951. He served has a diving officer in San Diego during the Korean War on the submarine rescue ship Kittiwake as a diving officer until 1955. Milk was honorably discharged from the service as a lieutenant junior grade.

Following his service, Milk was elected to the San Francisco board of supervisors and was the first openly gay California politician to be elected to office. He was killed in office in 1978. When Milk was shot he was wearing his U.S. Navy Master Diver belt buckle.

Over the last several years, there have been pushes from California politicians to have a ship named for Milk since the 2011 repeal of the Department of Defense’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” policy.

Naming a ship after Milk, “will further send a green light to all the brave men and women who serve our nation that honesty, acceptance and authenticity are held up among the highest ideals of our military,” said Milk’s nephew Stuart Milk in a statement to San Diego LGBT Weekly in 2012.

December 23, 2015

Gay Hero who Came Out before end of DADT killed in Afghanistan

 Here is our hero Adrianna with her partner celebrating end of DADT
Adrianna Vorderbruggen, a major in the Air Force who is known as one of the first openly gay service members since "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" was repealed in 2011, was killed in action along with six of her fellow service members in Afghanistan on Monday.

She was on a security patrol on foot near Bagram Air Base when an explosive-laden motorbike rammed into the patrol and detonated. Aside from the six who were killed, three U.S. service members were injured in the attack according to U.S. Army Brig. General William Shoffner, head of public affairs at NATO's Resolute Support Base in the Afghan capital of Kabul.

Shoffner said the attack, which was the largest attack on foreign forces in Afghanistan since August, happened around 1:30 p.m. local time.

Major Vorderbruggen had served as a special agent with the Office of Special Investigations at a number of duty stations including McCord's Air Force Base in Washington and Joint Base Andrews in Maryland before joining her unit at Eglin Air Force Base. From Eglin Air Force Base, she was deployed to Afghanistan.

After learning that Vorderbruggen had been killed while serving her country, Military Families and Partners released the following statement and photo on Facebook:

Our friend Air Force Major Adrianna Vorderbruggen was killed in Afghanistan yesterday. Military families understand that...

Posted by Military Partners and Families Coalition on Tuesday, December 22, 2015
Vorderbruggen and her civilian wife, Heather Lamb, were married in June of 2012, and were raising a son who is not yet five.

Hours after the suicide bombing, several rockets hit an area of Kabul housing foreign embassies and government buildings. No casualties were immediately reported but a State Department official told CBS News that U.S. Embassy staff was told to shelter in place.

The Taliban took responsibility for the attacks.

The U.S. now has about 9,800 troops in Afghanistan, some of which are involved in counterterrorism missions. With NATO contributions, there are about 13,000 foreign troops in Afghanistan.


The victims included New York City Detective Joseph Lemm, a 15-year veteran of the NYPD who also volunteered in the U.S. Air National Guard and was on his third deployment to war zones.
"Detective Joseph Lemm epitomized the selflessness we can only strive for: putting his country and city first," New York Police Commissioner Bill Bratton said in a statement.
Local media in Statesboro, Georgia, identified a third victim as serviceman Chester McBride Jr., who was remembered by the principal of Statesboro High School as "a young man of high character with a great smile."
Serviceman Michael Anthony Cinco of Rio Grande Valley, Texas, was identified by local media as another victim.
Facebook postings identified others as Staff Sergeants Peter Taub, whose family lives in the Washington, D.C., area, and Louis Bonacasa from New York.
“My son, Chef Jon's brother, Staff Sargeant Peter Taub was one of six killed yesterday in Afghanistan,” wrote the owner of the Taub family sandwich shop in Washington. “The restaurant is closed for the rest of this week.”
Wrote Air Force member Jeffrey Behrman: “Joseph Lemm and Louis Bonacasa, I'm glad to have known you men, I'm glad I was able to buy you men a couple pints before you left for Afghanistan.”
The Taliban, which claimed responsibility for the strike, remains resilient 14 years after the start of U.S. military engagement in Afghanistan. It has ramped up its attacks this year, inflicting heavier casualties on Afghan security forces.
Just last week, the Pentagon warned of deteriorating security in Afghanistan and assessed the performance of Afghan security forces as "uneven and mixed."
More than 2,300 U.S. troops have died in the Afghan war since the 2001 invasion, but the pace of U.S. deaths has fallen off sharply since the end of formal U.S. combat and a drawdown of American forces.
Pentagon data showed there have been 10 so-called "hostile" deaths of U.S. service members in Afghanistan this year. There have been 10 non-hostile deaths, largely from aircraft crashes. (Reuters)

July 30, 2015

A Gay Rights Defender; Ex Defense Secretary


The former defense secretary has gone further than many politicians in promoting gay rights in the military and private sphere. (Robert Gates)

Eagle Scout. Young Republican. CIA recruit. Air Force officer. CIA director. Secretary of defense.
It’s not the resume of a radical civil-rights campaigner, but Robert Gates has now integrated two of the great bastions of macho American traditional morality—first the U.S. armed forces, and now the Boy Scouts of America. In both cases, Gates pursued a careful, gradual strategy, one that wasn’t fast enough for activists. In both cases, he was careful to take the temperature of constituents. And in both cases, once he was ready to act, he did so decisively. In the end what seemed to matter most was not Gates’s personal feelings but his determination to safeguard institutions he cared about and his deft skills as a bureaucratic operator.

Before the Obama administration began moving to eliminate the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy there was barely any indication of Gates’s views on LBGT issues—though not none. In 1991, while director of central intelligence, Gates ordered an inquiry into whether CIA personnel had ever been blackmailed into espionage because they were gay. When he found no cases, he ended the practice of asking employees about their sexual orientation as part of polygraph tests. From 2002 until he took over the Pentagon in 2006, Gates was president of Texas A&M University, a famously culturally conservative school. (In 1984, students sued, successfully, to force the school to recognize a gay-student organization; the ruling effectively removed all legal prohibitions on LGBT student groups nationwide.) At A&M, Gates worked to improve student diversity overall—including racial minorities and LGBT students—and appointed the school’s first administrator specifically in charge of diversity.

Given the rapid advance of gay rights over the last decade, it’s tough to remember just how different the stage was in 2006, when Gates replaced Donald Rumsfeld as defense secretary. “Don’t ask, don’t tell” had had plenty of critics since it was enacted in 1994—President Bill Clinton himself would have preferred simply opening the military to gay servicemembers—but it was still firmly in place. The Bush administration was not interested in lifting the ban, and Gates took a cautious approach. He repeatedly told reporters that he was not reviewing or reconsidering the policy.

When, several months into his tenure, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Peter Pace, said that “homosexual acts between individuals are immoral,” Gates tried to avoid discussing the comments, and said of DADT, “As long as the law is what it is, that’s what we’ll do.” (Pace, who retired in September 2007, reiterated his personal opposition to homosexuality during an exit hearing with Congress, but also endorsed gay service in the military.) When, two months later, the military ejected 58 desperately needed Arabic linguists because they were gay, Gates still said the policy wasn’t under review.

Even after President Obama was elected and Gates accepted an offer to stay on as secretary, he remained cautious. Though the president pledged to repeal DADT during his first State of the Union, Gates expressed a preference in March 2009 to “push that one down the road a little bit,” infuriating gay activists. Yet in June, he was clearly expecting the policy to end and was exploring whether “there’s a more humane way to apply the law until it gets changed.” A similar pattern held in 2010, as Gates warned Congress not to repeal DADT before he had a policy in place for the aftermath and insisted courts not make the decision. He also issued a survey on gays to servicemembers, a step that LGBT activists, who saw it as putting civil rights to a vote, disagreed with. Yet there Gates was in the fall, saying DADT’s demise was “inevitable” and testifying to Congress in favor of repeal—before the courts did it. (And that survey? It turned out the troops were totally fine with LGBT comrades.)

Once DADT was repealed, Gates moved quickly to enforce discipline and get the change implemented in the military, and shot down any hopes that soldiers, sailors, and marines who disagreed with the policy could leave their commitments early.

Gates’s push for the end of DADT never relied on the soaring rhetoric of rights and justice that people like Obama used. Gates spoke with the dry, careful language of a bureaucrat, speaking in terms of unit cohesion, military readiness, and obstacle recognition. When he indulged emotion, it was to praise soldiers risking their lives—the same language a defense secretary would use for straight soldiers. The decision was more than anything a triumph of pragmatism. Gates carefully studied the effects repeal would have on the military and decided the downsides were minimal; and he looked at the way the country was changing and realized that the policy would have to end soon, and that he wanted it to end on the Pentagon’s terms to ensure the military’s stability and long-term health.

The DADT fight offers a template for the opening to gay scoutmasters. Gates had expressed tempered sympathy for gays in scouting as far back as 1993, when he told Wichita Rotarians, “Values central to Scouting are under challenge today as never before: challenges to our belief in God, challenges from Americans who are gay. Scouting must teach tolerance and respect for the dignity and worth of every individual person, certainly including gays.”

The Boy Scouts had already begun to dismantle some of their anti-gay policies when Gates was elected president in late 2013. A lopsided vote in May 2013ended a ban on gay scouts but kept prohibitions on gay scout leaders and volunteers in place. Just as he had at Defense, Gates initially took a carefully diplomatic position. “I was prepared to go further than the decision that was made,” Gates said in May 2014. “I would have supported having gay Scoutmasters, but at the same time, I fully accept the decision that was democratically arrived at by 1,500 volunteers from across the entire country.” He said he wouldn’t reopen the decision during his term as president.

At some point in the last year, he had a change of heart.

The shift seems to reflect much the same calculus that guided Gates through the DADT decision. At the Pentagon, he had first avoided discussing repeal because it seemed too likely to create institutional instability; but once he decided that the writing was on the wall and that refusing to change was the greater risk to the organization, he moved swiftly and effectively to impose his new will. The point was to guarantee institutional survival.

In May 2015, one year after saying he wouldn’t reopen the issue of gay scoutmasters, Gates did just that. In short, he decided once again that if the institution he led didn’t change its policies now, a judge was likely to force it to do so later.

“The status quo in our movement’s membership standards cannot be sustained,” he said. “Between internal challenges and potential legal conflicts, the BSA finds itself in an unsustainable position, a position that makes us vulnerable to the possibility the courts simply will order us at some point to change our membership policy.”

Gates warned that a court order would disarm the Boy Scouts’ ability to act of their own volition, and suggested that doing anything besides opening would be an existential threat.

“I truly fear that any other alternative will be the end of us as a national movement,” he said.

Monday evening, Gates got his wish, as the BSA’s 80-member board voted to approve the change. (A smaller executive committee had already approved it.) The new policy may not satisfy everyone. Traditionalists are upset about the move, while progressives feel it doesn’t go far enough—troops that are chartered by churches and other religious organizations would still be permitted to set their own standards. Regardless, the policy marks a serious shift for BSA, and it cements Robert Gates’s place in history: as one of the least likely but most successful proponents for gay equality in institutional America.

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