Showing posts with label Gays In Military. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Gays In Military. Show all posts

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.

March 4, 2016

Gay Israeli Officer Writes How His Government Has let him Down


An openly gay Israeli military officer has written a powerful Facebook post in which he says he feels abandoned by his country, after parliament failed to pass a host of LGBT rights laws.
Omer Nahmany, who is a 25-year-old Second Lieutenant in the artillery corps, was particularly disappointed that the Knessett failed to pass a bill which would have equated the rights of gay and straight military families.

Nahmany explains in the post – translated by GayBuzzer – that he has often been asked if it is a contradiction to be gay and a combat officer.
“My answer had always been – There is no contradiction,” he writes. “The beauty of the military is that we’re all equal. We wear the same uniform, we eat the same food, we’re in the battlefield together, during training and – if needed – during wartime.

“There are no divisions between a straight soldier and a gay soldier. My soldiers can count on me to never abandon them in the field, and I can count on them.”
He adds: “But this week – I was abandoned in the field. Not by my soldiers or by my commanding officers, but by the Israeli government. The same government that asks me to go to battle and maybe lose my life, had refused to pass a law that would equate the status of a gay bereaved family to that of a straight family.”

Effectively, if a gay soldier dies in battle, their partner and children would not be officially recognised as a bereaved family, with the benefits and rights that come with it.
The post comes after, a series of LGBT rights bills were uniformly rejected by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-wing coalition government last week (February 24). They included recognition of civil unions and a ban on conversion therapy of minors. 

“This situation, where the state of Israel asks me to risk my life in battle but refuses to take a political risk for me on the benches of Parliament is insufferable and contradicts every value I was thought during my military service,” he continues.
“I’m supposed to go into battle knowing that I’m a second class citizen, only because I’m gay. That I’m good enough to die for this country, but not good enough to be an equal-rights citizen.” Nahmany concludes, “Today I’m asking the country to fight for me, just as hard as I know I will fight for my country when I’m called.”

July 20, 2014

AT FT Campbell Gay Soldiers Spill the beans about coming Out

Spc. Corderra Dews, 24, was living in Austin, Texas, and openly gay before he joined the Army in 2011, a couple of months before the end of "don't ask, don't tell," the policy that kept gay soldiers in the closet at the risk of losing their jobs.
"When you come out and you've been out so long, it's hard to just go back in," Dews said.
During basic training, people questioned his sexuality because he never spoke about women. "I would just walk away instead of denying it," Dews said.
But while Dews was still in Advanced Individual Training, DADT was repealed.
"I was really excited," Dews said, "because in my head, I felt like eventually I'd be able to be myself at some point in time."
Last year, with the overturning of the Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA, the Army extended benefits to same-sex spouses, furthering the full inclusion of gay and lesbian soldiers in the military.
Dews, now a fueler with 2nd Battalion, 44th Air Defense Artillery, 101st Sustainment Brigade, is one of seven gay male soldiers who've served at Fort Campbell who recently opened up about their experiences serving in the Army before and after the end of DADT and DOMA.
While Dews was able to walk away, some went through more serious measures to hide their sexuality in the days when exposure could mean the end of a career.
Leaving the secrets behind
Spc. Brian Scott, 28, is in the Army Reserve, but he was active-duty at Fort Campbell from 2009 to early 2011 in the 187th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne as a fire support specialist. He is also the chapter leader for Kentucky's OutServe-SLDN, a national organization dedicated to LGBT equality and ending harassment and discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity in the military.
Scott wasn't always so open – he was married to a woman for several years in an effort to conceal his homosexuality.
"It was a way to cover myself in the military and my family," Scott said. If he could have married a man, Scott said, he more than likely would have.
"I definitely had that fear of not being complete and still having to hide that part of me," Scott said. "You've got to lie to yourself and lie to the person you're with."
The Army is a reflection of America, and, much like America, it is a melting pot. People from all parts of the country and different walks of life come together to serve a common goal.
"You have people from so many areas," said Staff Sgt. Chris Swan, 26, with the Army Dental Corps, who comes from a military background.
"People will join the military from a small town. Some of them haven't seen a black person, some of them haven't seen a Jewish person, some people haven't been around a lot of different minorities, and they have to learn how to adapt."
Breaking stereotypes
Sgt. Kyle Johnson, 29, is now in the Army Reserve but was active duty from 2009 to 2013 at Fort Campbell in 1st Battalion, 502nd Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team. Johnson has wanted to be in the Army since he was a little boy.
"I always wanted to do it," Johnson said. "I love it. I love everything about it. My entire room is shelves of international affairs, defense strategies, foreign policies. I want to know every minute detail about it."
He worked in politics for many years before deciding to enlist. In four short years, Johnson became qualified in Air Assault, Pathfinder, received a Combat Action Badge, went to language school for Dari (a variety of Persian Farsi spoken in Afghanistan), and was a sniper team leader for a scout platoon.
"I want to be seen as a person and what I've accomplished and the hard work I've put into things," Johnson said, "not what I happen to do in the privacy of my home.
"People see me and what I accomplished and they find out later (that he's gay) and are like, 'What?' Not every gay person bends their wrists and wears pink shirts and flits around. That's a very small sect of that community."
Stereotypes of gay people remain prevalent and deep-rooted, particularly about gay men.
"Everyone expects them to be very, very flamboyant," Scott said.
Married couple Spc. Nicholas Harriel and Sgt. Cristian Saldana open up about their relationship and marriage after the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell. Sarah Dixon
Sgt. Cristian Saldana, 23, gets similar reactions. Saldana is in communications with 326th Engineer Battalion, 101st Sustainment Brigade, and he is married to Spc. Nicholas Harriel.
"I always get the comment 'You're not the stereotypical flamboyant gay guy – you're not flaming,'" Saldana said.
Many also associate being gay with weakness. "Everybody looks at you, and then when your PT (physical training) is not as high as anybody else, 'Oh he's the gay kid – don't expect him to run that fast,'" Johnson said.
Swan agrees, especially when it comes to physically demanding Army roles.
"I know a lot of guys that are in infantry and they're still closeted because of their job field," Swan said. "In that environment, it's a very high-testosterone, pro-masculine environment. A lot of people don't associate being gay with that."
With the repeal of DADT, however, gay soldiers have been able to openly challenge those stereotypes, helping to educate straight soldiers who didn't think they knew any gay men.
"We weren't that new species anymore," said Harriel, 23, a medic with 86th Combat Support Hospital. "I think the repeal of DADT allowed us to expose ourselves. It allowed us to come out because we don't have purple dots on us. It's not obvious. So whenever you don't see something, it's easy to fear something you haven't seen."
While many veterans say they knowingly fought side-by-side with gay soldiers going back to World War II, it was mostly unspoken. For some, particularly civilians, that meant it wasn't there.
"I guess maybe people felt like because it wasn't allowed in the military, people didn't think it was in the military," Harriel said. "Maybe people just didn't realize that (gay) people have been serving for a long time and hiding that part of their lives from other people."
Soldiers first
Like any other soldier, gay soldiers find their value not in their sexual orientation but in how they perform their job.
Dews won his battalion's Soldier of the Quarter almost three months ago and soon will be competing for the 101st Airborne Division's Soldier of the Year.
"It shouldn't be about who I am, it should be about my work ethic and what kind of soldier I am," Dews said.
Sexual orientation is not an all-consuming factor in anyone's life. Gay soldiers want to be seen as soldiers first.
"A lot of gay people I knew in the Army, no matter what you did ... if you cured cancer, it wasn't 'Kyle Johnson cured cancer.' It was 'That gay guy that cured cancer,'" Johnson said. "Anything you do has to have 'gay' in front of it."
"Me being gay isn't the most important thing about me," Swan said. "It's part of me, but it's not who I am."
The upending of DADT and DOMA didn't bring in a wave of rainbow flags and glitter or the collapse of the military, although some thought it might. Instead, it brought job security, the possibility of marriage and the spousal benefits that were given to every other married soldier.
Sgt. Victor Valdez, 21, retired from the Army in May and worked intelligence in 1st Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne.
"It's not something that I overly flaunt," Valdez said. "When we're at work, we keep it professional. We don't talk about our personal life like that."
Some growing pains
Before DADT ended, the fear of getting kicked out was very real.
"All it would take is one petty supervisor who pursued it, and whether or not they were successful, there was always that chance," Swan said. "Now there is no chance. I will not lose my career over my orientation. It makes me feel secure. It was one less thing to worry about."
The repeal of the policy doesn't mean everyone in the Army wants or agrees with gay people serving. It also doesn't mean that being open about sexuality goes without incident or harassment.
"It may have been a policy put out, but it was still unspoken that it wasn't a good thing to still be gay in the Army," Dews said.
Although most soldiers who are aware of Dews' sexual orientation are supportive and accepting, there was an incident in which he had to file an Equal Opportunity complaint.
A noncommissioned officer in his platoon was continually harassing Dews, making gay slurs and derogatory comments for a month, paired with a constant look of disdain.
"The way he ... how someone can speak with their eyes, almost," Dews said. "It was like he was almost disgusted with me."
Even when the NCO was told to stop by other NCOs in the platoon, the comments continued.
"It stressed me out. I lost a lot of morale and confidence in the people over me," Dews said.
Dews eventually filed the EO complaint.
"I felt like I should stand up for myself and show him that wasn't the right thing to do," Dews said. "He's supposed to be training me, leading me, and he was putting me down."
The NCO was reprimanded and ordered not to speak to Dews unless giving an order. Dews was told if the NCO tried to retaliate in any way, to go to someone higher-ranking and the situation would be handled.
Before the repeal of DADT, Dews would have had no way to stop the harassment.
Pivotal moment
The way Dews' case was handled speaks volumes about the change that's taken place at Fort Campbell from 15 years ago, when, in one incident, harassment of a gay soldier was allowed to continue to the point of death.
During Fourth of July weekend in 1999, 21-year-old Pfc. Barry Winchell was beaten to death with a baseball bat in his barracks by a fellow soldier. Before the incident, Winchell, who was in 2nd Battalion, 502 Infantry Regiment, was constantly harassed by fellow soldiers for being gay. His superiors didn't put a stop to the harassment.
The slaying happened six years after the DADT policy was put in place, and Winchell's death led to a re-examination of the policy and a serious examination of the leadership on post.
Today at Fort Campbell, harassment of gay soldiers is not taken lightly.
"Fort Campbell and the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) are dedicated to ensuring that everyone in our community is treated with dignity and respect, to include our gay and lesbian service and family members," said Lt. Col. Brian DeSantis, 101st Airborne and Fort Campbell spokesman, in a statement issued for this article.

Life in the open
Perhaps the biggest change is that gay soldiers are now able to openly take part in family life with their same-sex spouses.
"I figured maybe I would date someone, but it would always be secret," Harriel said. "I never thought I'd be out to anyone else until I left the military service."
He married Saldana this past year, and their marriage is a direct byproduct of the end of DADT and DOMA. Before, many soldiers were willing to either never have a partner or have a love life in total secrecy until they got out of the military.
"I'm so happy for the ones just coming in, because they never had to fear finding someone after coming in," Swan said.
"When (DADT) was in effect, it literally said you can't get married, so I would have been legally single the entire time I was in the Army. I was fully prepared to do 20 years. I looked at my career, and I think I married my career. That was always my joke, but it's depressing because I did marry my career."
The prospect of openly dating and of marriage is new to gay soldiers. Before, the concept was an implausible yearning, but it is now tangible and happening.
"I can do it now, and I won't have to put off the whole family thing," Swan said. "My goal is I want to find someone, date them for around a year, and if they're the one, get married. I want to do it how my parents did it."
In the post-DADT and DOMA era, gay soldiers are able to follow in the footsteps of soldiers before them, fully participating in family life after having given so much for their country.
"My hope as a gay soldier," Dews said, "is I really hope to get stationed somewhere nice, meet somebody, be able to bring them around, take them to balls, to be like any other spouse in the military."
Senior Editor Chris Smith contributed to this report.
Sarah Dixon, 245-0248
Leaf-Chronicle intern
• OutServe-SLDN is an organization dedicated to bringing about full LGBT equality to America’s military and ending all forms of discrimination and harassment of military personnel on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.
Sarah Dixon, Leaf-Chronicle

August 18, 2013

Military Couple Moves from Alaska to Washington to Get Marriage Benefits

ANCHORAGE - A historic decision by the military gives equal rights to all married couples, gay and straight. The landmark move changes the way the military treats gay spouses.
There's one catch.
The marriage needs to be legal in the eyes of the law. In Alaska, it's not.
So Jen Theulen, with Alaska's Air National Guard, and Nicole Carrier, a former Marine, are leaving Alaska and headed to Seattle to get married. Washington State is one of 13 states where it's legal for a gay couple to get married.
It's not the first time they exchanged vows. They got married last year in Girdwood. It was a family affair, but because it wasn't legal, it didn't give them the equal rights they so desperately wanted.
"If something happened to her and she went to the hospital, there was no way I could get on base," Carrier said.
Soon, Carrier will be able to now that the military is extending full benefits to all legally married military couples. It's still a shock for Carrier.
"I think I have to see the marriage certificate," she said. "Once we get that certificate with both of our names on it, it will become real."
In June, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act. This week, the military followed by extending benefits. Now, Theulen and Carrier will get benefits for things like health care and housing. They are quick to point out it goes deeper for them.
"Our motivation was to be like everyone else," said Theulen.
"To be wife and wife," said Carrier, "to be able to go out on a date night and it's a date night as wife and wife. Celebrate an anniversary and it's not just a will-you-be-my-girlfriend kind of anniversary. It's 'I made you my wife this day' anniversary."
Last year, Theulen and Carrier's fellow service members nominated Carrier for spouse of the year in spite of the law.
"She actually got nominated for it and won," said Theulen. "Then [the organizers] said you guys aren't legally married or recognized as a married couple so maybe try it another time. We were on the website one day and we were off it the next."
But after Sunday, they'll be like any other married couple in the eyes of the law.
"We have our hard times too. We aren't like perfect although we'd like people to believe we are," said Theulen. "We're just like any other couple. The only difference is that we are two women. I guess there is a biological difference but as far as socially and stuff... we are just like any other couple."
The military says gay couples stationed where it's illegal to marry, like Alaska, will be given ten days of leave to travel to one of the 13 states and get married.
Benefits are expected to kick in next month. 

August 16, 2013

This Texas Marine Lost His Leg and Almost His Life But Because He is Gay He Gets Booed at San Antonio, TX

Anti-gay protesters boo gay Marine vet Eric Alva, who lost leg in Iraq War 

Eric Alva
Eric Alva
Anti-gay protesters reportedly booed a gay Marine veteran who lost his leg in the Iraq War while he was speaking in favor of a nondiscrimination ordinance at a San Antonio City Council meeting on Wednesday night.
At a prayer vigil outside City Hall before the meeting, about 300 people protested the proposed addition to San Antonio’s nondiscrimination law that would add protections for sexual orientation, gender identity and veteran status.
“Let them vote ‘no’ to this ordinance, and ‘yes’ to the reign of the kingdom of God,” Pastor Charles Flowers said at the rally.
About 200 people signed up to speak at the City Council meeting for and against the ordinance.
Alva, a Marine staff sergeant who became the first U.S. soldier injured in Iraq when he stepped on a landmine, was booed by the crowd when he spoke in favor of the ordinance. Alva lives in San Antonio.
“To all you people that preach the word of God, shame on you because God loves me, like the day I laid bleeding on the sands of Iraq and that’s why he saved me,” Alva said before he left the podium.
Alva wrote on his Facebook page later: “Well I just left city council chambers and I feel like crying. I have never seen a city so divided and hateful towards each other. All of man kind should be ashamed. I already spoke and even some of the religious groups even boo’ed me as I spoke. Such disrespect as they preach the word of God.”
The City Council is expected to vote on the ordinance on Sept. 5. A petition calls on San Antonio city council members to support the ordinance.
Check out a meme about Alva being booed below.
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August 13, 2013

Sailor Proposes at Dock After 6 Month Submarine Duty

The first thing MM2 second class Jerrel Revels did when his submarine pulled into harbor was drop to one knee and propose to his boyfriend Dylan Kirchner.
Revels, a Texas native started dating Kirchner, of Plainfield, Connecticut about a year ago.
But the two were soon separated when Revels started his first deployment on the USS New Mexico on February 13. 
Engaged: Revels dropped to one knee to propose to his boyfriend, whom he hadn't seen in six months
For the past six months, Revels and the crew have cruised more than 34,000 miles in the European region, making stops in Norway, Scotland and Spain.
At some point during the journey, the sailor realized exactly what he wanted to do when he got home.
'I've been away from this dude for about 6 months now and there's just a point where I realized I didn't want to be away from him anymore or let him get way,' Revels told NBC Connecticut.
Back in the U.S.A.: The young couple were clearly happy to see each other again after such a long separation
Surprise: Kirchner, right, had no clue that his sailor boyfriend would propose to him right on the pier

Kirchner had an idea that his boyfriend would propose, but not right on the dock in Groton, Connecticut surrounded by 200 relatives welcoming back their loved ones.
'It kind of tickled my mind every now and then that (he would propose) but I never expected this,' Kirchner told Connecticut's The Day. 'I didn't really care everybody was around. It felt just like the two of us.'
Kirchner said yes, and afterward posted a happy announcement on Facebook. 


July 17, 2013

70 Year After They Died Including a Young Poet and RAF Bomber Find Rest

Boston crew

    Map of Italy
  • 1940: Mussolini declares war on Britain and France
  • July 1943: Allies invade Sicily; Mussolini ousted as Italian leader
  • September 1943: Armistice signed between Italian king and Allies; country in state of civil war as Allies push Germans north
  • 1944: Rome liberated
  • 1945: Mussolini executed by partisans while trying to flee Italy for Switzerlan

Nearly 70 years after they died, the four men of the crew of an RAF bomber will be buried with military honours at a ceremony in Italy. One was a young poet who had himself written poignantly about the pain of losing air force comrades.
All the men served in 18 Squadron, based near Rimini, in the north of the country, in the last days of World War ll.
One evening in April 1945, they took off on a mission to attack a bridge on the River Po, then carry out a wider reconnaissance.
By this time, the Allies had been fighting their way up through Sicily and the Italian peninsula for nearly two years.
Rome had fallen the previous summer.
Now, further north, German resistance was finally collapsing, and soon the Italian dictator, Benito Mussolini would be dead.
The men aboard the Boston bomber were all very young. The oldest was only 21.
If they could have survived just 10 more days they would have seen the Allied victory in Italy.
And with the coming of peace in Europe shortly afterwards, their lives would have stretched out before them.
But they never returned from their mission. It is believed their plane was brought down by German anti-aircraft fire, and that everyone on board died in the crash.
Now, 68 years after they were killed, the crew is being laid to rest at a Commonwealth war cemetery in the city of Padua.
Boston bomberA Boston bomber of the kind flown on the fateful mission to the Po valley
As relatives of the men look on, the strains of the Last Post will drift across the hundreds of white headstones in the cemetery.
Three of the flyers were British - the pilot, Sergeant David Raikes, the navigator, Flight Sergeant David Perkins, and the wireless operator and gunner, Flight Sergeant Alexander Bostock. They were all aged 20.
The crew's other gunner was an Australian - Warrant Officer John Hunt, of the Royal Australian Air Force - who was a year older.
The wreck of the plane was found by an Italian group called Archeologi dell'Aria - amateur enthusiasts who have so far found 16 missing aircraft.
Archaeologists digging a crater
The organisation's founder, Fabio Raimondi says a local man in his hometown of Copparo, near Ferrara, once told him a story about a plane coming down in nearby farmland at the end of the war.
The wreck had burned for two days, then the carcass was picked over for some of its more valuable metal.
But at some point it seems that either German or Italian forces covered much of the wreckage in the crater that the crash had caused.
Items recovered from the wreckage
chronometerThe watch that belonged to Warrant Officer John Hunt
"During the search, we found - in among the melted aluminium - a watch," says Raimondi.
"To my amazement, I discovered that on its back there was a number.
"I went online, typed it in, and I got to the Australian National Archive. I found out who he was... and that he had been missing in action."
Raimondi says that as he and his team dug down and worked to retrieve the remains of the crew, he thought of the relatives of the men who had never come home.
Members of Archeologi dell'Aria combing through wreckage
"It was very emotional, the work of several months for us volunteers," he says.
"To find and identify the remains of four flyers is very important. With the funeral we close this circle."The pilot, David Raikes, was an aspiring poet, and his family published some of his work posthumously.
Among the poems was a piece called Let it be hushed, in which he reflected on the loss of comrades - other crews that had failed to return from missions.
Raikes wrote:
These men knew moments you have never known,
Nor ever will; we knew those moments too,
And talked of them in whispers late at night;
Such confidence was born of danger shared.
We shared their targets, too; but we came back.
As the poem continues, it touches on the black humour that helped the crews cope with the continual danger of death, as in this joke about a dead flyer's watch.
... Someone said
'It was a pity that he wore his watch;
It was a good one, twenty pounds he said
He'd paid for it in Egypt. Now, let's see,
Who's on tonight. Ah, Taffy - you've a good one!
You'd better leave it with me.' And we laughed.
Cold were we? Cold at heart. You get that way.
Towards the end of the poem, Raikes writes about the rituals that were followed when a crew failed to come back to base.
... At first just overdue,
Till minutes changed to hours, and still no news.
One went to bed; but roused by later crews,
Asked 'were they back yet?' And being answered 'No',
Went back to sleep
One's waking eyes sought out the empty beds,
And 'Damn', you said, 'another kit to pack.'
I never liked that part. You never knew
What privacies your sorting might lay bare.
I always tried to leave my kit arranged
In decent tidiness. You never knew.
On the night of that raid on the bridge on the Po, back at base, as the "minutes changed to hours", comrades would have asked of David Raikes and his crew, "were they back yet?"
The poems of David RaikesA poetry prize honouring Raikes is awarded at his old school, Radley College
And, eventually, the time would have come to pack his kit.
Raikes' poem will be read out at the funeral by his nephew, and his brothers Roger and Tim will be among those listening at the graveside.
The piece begins with the words:
Let it be hushed, let the deep ocean close
Upon these dead...
Now, in that cemetery in Padua, where they will lie forever, the Italian earth will close upon David Raikes and his fellow flyers.

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