Entries in Gays (11)


A 'Proud' Obama Makes Appeal to Gay Donors

JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/GettyImages(LOS ANGELES) -- President Obama claimed the mantle of champion for the LGBT community Wednesday night, telling a group of 600 gay and lesbian donors at a star-studded fundraiser that he “could not be prouder” of his administration’s work to advance fairness and equality. 

From the effort to lift an HIV/AIDS travel ban, to the passage of a hate crimes law and the repeal of “don’t ask don’t tell,” Obama credited his friends and family, staff and military service members as the inspiration behind his advocacy for gay rights in the White House.

“It’s something that I’m personally very proud of,” he said of the accomplishments.

One of those sources of inspiration introduced Obama -- Dr. Vito Imbasciani, a urological surgeon and colonel in the U.S. Army National Guard who served three tours in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Imabasciani, who is gay, explained that it was his commander-in-chief who allowed him to finally “be himself” after serving for 26 years.

“Until last year, the price of my service was to live a lie,” Imbasciani said.  “But not anymore.”

“Thanks to the unyielding efforts of President Obama I can serve my country openly with my family by my side,” he added, referring to the repeal of “don’t ask don’t tell.”  Imbasciani said he and his partner have two adopted children of Mexican descent.  

Citing “Vito’s story,” Obama said that his administration’s record of progress for gays and lesbians over the past three years is “just one more step” in a broader movement for greater equality for all Americans."

“It’s part of our history of trying to make this union a little bit more perfect,” the president said.  “In successive ways, the history, the scope of this country has always been to further broaden the meaning of citizenship, to include more and more people.  To give better and better expression to our highest aspirations, to make the country more fair, and more just and more equal.”

While the president did not specifically address his rival Mitt Romney’s record on gay rights, he did suggest the former Republican governor would be much less supportive.

There is a “fundamentally different vision about what’s going on,” Obama said of his opponent’s campaign.  “And a lot of this debate’s going to be about the economy, but also obviously there’s a different vision about how we create an inclusive America."

“I refuse to let anybody re-impose a law that would force Vito back into the shadows when he’s serving on our behalf and our safety and our security,” he continued to resounding applause.  “That’s not something I will tolerate.”

Romney, it should be noted, has not publicly called for re-imposing a ban on gays serving openly in the military.  During a November 2011 primary debate, Romney suggested that he would allow the repeal to stand, saying, “That’s already occurred and I’m not planning on reversing that at this stage.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Troops Reflect on 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell'

Spencer Platt/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- For many gays and lesbians in the military, the end of the "don't ask, don't tell" policy barring them from serving openly has put an end to the distraction of living in fear, allowing them -- as one said -- to "focus on the mission."

It was a year ago this past week that President Obama signed into law a repeal of "don't ask, don't tell."  Although that ended the legal underpinnings for the ban on openly gay troops, it was only on Sept. 20 that the nearly 18-year-old policy was fully repealed.

For many of the thousands of gay and lesbian troops who will continue to serve in the military, it was a major burden lifted from their shoulders.

"Now I don't have to worry about someone trying to end my career," Staff Sgt. Steve Proctor told ABC News' Jake Tapper. "It's very important to me to be a soldier and also to be a leader of these soldiers, especially other soldiers that are gay like me."

Proctor said one of the biggest misconceptions he dealt with were doubts about whether he'd be able to effectively lead troops despite his sexual orientation.  "It was a struggle," said the 27-year-old staff sergeant, who's served for almost 10 years. "I had to make sure no one knew about it for the simple fact that if they did find out, I didn't want someone to try kicking me out."

Capt. Eric Sattleberg said that before the repeal of the policy, he was forced to lead a double life in the military. For the past decade he chose to hide under the umbrella of "being straight" so his homosexuality was never in question. He'd visit strip clubs with other soldiers and partake in conversations pertaining to relationships with women.

"I didn't want to come in and battle that, battle that fight with being gay in the military," he said.

Sattleberg wasn't the only one living an alternate life. Petty Officer Erin Jones said that before the repeal of "don't ask, don't tell," her experience in the military was "sickening."

"I would go and date other men and I would go out with guys and spend a lot of time with guys trying to make it look like I was straight," she said. "I had a huge battle with my sexuality for a long time."

Jones said a lesbian couple serving with her was forced to separate, and she knew of another lesbian couple who was kicked out. Fearing her superiors would figure out the truth about her sexual orientation, Jones said she would even try to have relationships with men on her base.

Jones told ABC News that a lot of soldiers she knows were angry about the focus placed on repealing "don't ask, don't tell."

"We're in a war, we don't need to focus on gays being allowed to serve," she said.

But she said that for her, at least, putting an end to the ban meant an end to one of the major distractions she faced. "Since the laws changed, we can focus on the mission and we don't have to worry about being strung up for who we are," Jones said.

She said it was a relief, mostly because now soldiers won't have to endure the struggle that she and other homosexual soldiers lived through. "I wanted to talk about my girlfriend, but I would have to change the pronoun and have to say 'him,'" she said. "It sickened me inside to have to do that."

For other soldiers, though, the transition wasn't as smooth.

Proctor broke the news to one of his best friends and said the friendship ended soon after.  "One of my best friends in the army of 10 years and I told him," Proctor said. He also said he didn't regret his decision because he was tired of fighting with his identity.

"I thought I could trust him, he's denied that, some people aren't going to accept you for who you are, we all know that," Proctor said.

For Proctor and several other soldiers, the repeal lifted a heavy weight off their shoulders. Proctor says many soldiers may still not open up due to their personal lives at home, religion, or that they still haven't seen higher ranking soldiers coming out.

"We have to show the standard that we can still lead troops, I am gay as I want to be and you can do the same thing," Proctor said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Michele Bachmann Deflects Questions About Husband’s Clinic

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- Presidential candidate Michele Bachmann declined to directly address reports that the Christian counseling clinic she owns with her husband, Marcus, has tried to help gay people become straight through prayer.

“I’m extremely proud of my husband.  I have tremendous respect and admiration for him,” she told an audience in Washington, D.C. Thursday.  “I am running for the presidency of the United States.  My husband is not running for the presidency, neither are my children, neither is our business, neither is our foster children.  And I am more than happy to stand for questions on running for presidency of the United States."

Bachmann’s remarks came during a question-and-answer session after a speech at the National Press Club.  Bachmann’s husband and two of the couple’s children, Sophie and Elisa, were in the audience.

Though she declined to respond to the question about her husband's counseling centers, Bachmann acknowledged that running for president often brings intense, and sometimes unwanted, scrutiny.

“I have no doubt that every jot and tittle of my life will be fully looked at and inspected,” she said.

Bachmann’s appearance in Washington Thursday was wedged in between visits to Iowa, where she has been campaigning in advance of the Ames Straw Poll next month.  She campaigned there earlier in the week and will return for more events over the weekend.

The Minnesota Republican offered more candid responses about other personal issues, including her faith, telling the audience that if elected she “will pray every day.”

“I will be praying for every one of you too,” she said.

And as the clock ticks down toward the Aug. 2 deadline for default on the national debt, Bachmann said there was no changing her mind about voting “no” on House Speaker John Boehner’s debt-limit plan, which was originally expected to come up for a vote on Thursday before it was scuttled for the day.

“We have to stop making raising the debt limit routine,” she told the audience.  “The American people have made it abundantly clear they don’t want us to raise the debt limit, whether it’s a short-term raise or a long-term raise.”

She added, “I couldn’t go down that road, and so I couldn’t give John Boehner that vote."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Marcus Bachmann Says Clinics Are Not Anti-Gay

Steve Pope/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Dr. Marcus Bachmann, PhD, husband of GOP presidential hopeful Michele Bachmann, defended his Christian counseling clinic and denied that his business offered to convert gay men to become straight.

The Bachmanns own two clinics in Minnesota, and have recently come under fire after hidden camera footage shot by activists and aired on ABC News showed a therapist telling a gay man how he could become attracted to women.

In an interview with the Star Tribune, Bachmann said his clinics do not offer "reparative" therapy, a practice the American Psychological Association has deemed ineffective and unsafe, but said they would provide similar services if a patient asked for them.

"Will I address it?  Certainly we'll talk about it," Bachmann told the paper.  "Is it a remedy form that I typically would use?...It is at the client's discretion."

"We don't have an agenda or a philosophy of trying to change someone,'' Bachmann said.

Bachmann also denied to the paper that he had called homosexuals "barbarians" in a 2010 radio interview that has been widely quoted.

"We have to understand: Barbarians need to be educated,'' Bachmann is heard saying in a recording of the interview.  "They need to be disciplined.  Just because someone feels it or thinks it doesn't mean that we are supposed to go down that road.''

Bachmann said the recording had been doctored.

Bachmann has also come under scrutiny for using federal and state funds at the clinic he and his wife own, given Rep. Michele Bachmann’s disdain for federal handouts.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Obama Gay Marriage Stance a Nod to 2012 Battlegrounds

William Thomas Cain/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Gay Pride Month celebrations hit the White House Wednesday as President Obama welcomes some of his gay and lesbian supporters and renews his commitment to helping them "win the future."

But don't expect the president to flash his rainbow stripes in support of marriage equality: That's an issue he now believes should be left up to the states.

"His belief, our belief [is] that this is a matter that states should decide," White House press secretary Jay Carney said Monday after New York became the sixth, and largest, state to allow same-sex marriage.

The position -- a new twist for Obama, who appeared to support legalizing the unions in 1996, later opposed them, and recently said his views are "evolving" -- has rankled advocates who say the president is making a calculated political decision with an eye toward 2012.

"The president has staked out a cynical political position aimed at not rocking the boat," said Richard Socarides, who advised President Bill Clinton on gay rights issues.  "This states' rights argument is a separate but equal argument.  Would the president have thought it right to let the states decide on the issue of interracial marriage, or on whether or not women should be allowed to vote?"

Obama's reluctance to embrace gay marriage, putting him among a minority of Americans in national polls, appears part of a broader effort to avoid alienating voters in battleground states, like Ohio and Nevada, where majorities have traditionally shown less support for the unions than voters overall.

States such as Colorado, Florida, Nevada, Ohio, and Virginia, all won by Obama in 2008 and expected to be close contests in 2012, have constitutional amendments banning same-sex marriage that couldn't be overcome by a president's leadership alone.

New Hampshire legislators are expected to vote early next year on whether to repeal the state's same-sex marriage law, while in Minnesota, another battleground, a constitutional amendment banning the unions will appear on the ballot in 2012.

"If Obama were to come out for marriage equality today, nothing could happen tomorrow," said one Democratic strategist close to the administration who spoke on condition of anonymity.  "The Defense of Marriage Act still needs to be repealed, and that won't happen soon with a Republican-controlled House in place."

Same-sex marriage also remains comparatively less popular among Hispanic and African-American voters than their white counterparts, a fact which could weigh on Obama's effort to court those constituencies.  A recent poll by the Pew Research Center found 59 percent of blacks and 47 percent of Hispanics oppose legalizing gay marriage.

Bottom line, some gay rights advocates speculate, is that Obama likely believes he has more to lose than gain in coming out in favor of same-sex marriage.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


President Obama Signs 'Don't Ask Don't Tell' Repeal

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama signed into law a repeal of the "don't ask, don't tell" policy Wednesday morning, ending the ban on openly gay troops.

According to officials, the 17-year-old policy will remain in effect in the near term, however, until the president, defense secretary and Congress certify the military is ready to implement a repeal.  Then, a 60-day waiting period begins before the ban is officially removed from the books.

In the weeks ahead, the Pentagon is expected to revise policies and regulations to reflect the repeal, and train leaders on how to enforce the rules.  More than two million service members across the military are also expected to be briefed on what is expected of them and what is not.

Among the expected changes is non-discrimination against a military applicant who may volunteer that he or she is gay.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' Repeal Headed for Clean Vote in House

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- Congress will take another swing at repealing the U.S. Military’s "don't ask, don't tell" policy toward gays serving openly in the military.

Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., told reporters Tuesday that the House of Representatives will take up a free-standing bill to repeal "don’t ask, don’t tell "as introduced by Rep. Patrick Murphy, a Democrat from Pennsylvania who lost his bid for reelection in November.

Senate Democrats fell three votes short when they tried to insert a repeal of the policy in a larger defense policy bill earlier in December. It is not clear if a free-standing repeal can get the three extra votes Senators would need.

Following a review by the Department of Defense which found that the risk “to overall military effectiveness is low,” and that the widespread attitude by respondents to the survey said serving with openly gay service members “will not have a negative impact on their ability to conduct their military mission,” Murphy said that the “time to repeal 'don’t ask, don’t tell' has come.”

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Protestors to Senate: 'Don't Go Home' Until DADT Repealed

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- One day after the Senate shot down the chance to repeal "don’t ask, don’t tell, nearly 100 protestors gathered north of the Capitol to urge the Senate to forego their holiday vacation and remain in session until DADT is repealed.

Amid chants of “Don’t go home,” the protestors stressed that legislators had an obligation to the straight and LGBT service members stationed across the world through the Christmas holidays.

Gay and straight activists shared stories of personal struggle and sought to show that, no matter the orientation, all service members serve the same military.

The protest was organized by the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, a non-profit organization which was established in 1993 when DADT originally passed.  SLDN also organized the DADT rally with Lady Gaga this September.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Pentagon: 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' Repeal Not a Threat

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Repealing the "don't ask, don't tell" policy that bans gays and lesbians from serving openly in the military is unlikely to hurt the effectiveness of U.S. troops, according to a Pentagon review released Tuesday.

The report includes interviews with former service members who are gay or lesbian, including those who were discharged from the military under the "don't ask, don't tell" policy, and 44,266 spouses. Of those surveyed, 69 percent said they had served with a gay service member and 92 percent of those respondents said they were able to work together. Fifty to 55 percent of those surveyed said the repeal won't have any effect, 15-20 percent said it would have a positive effect and 30 percent said it would be negative.

The report also concluded that encounters with gay service members are common.

"The reality is that there are gay men and lesbians already serving in today's U.S. military and most service members recognize this," the report states.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Tuesday the military will need some time to prepare for a repeal.

Gates convened the Comprehensive Review Working Group earlier this year to determine how the Defense Department might implement a repeal of the 1993 law.

The controversial law has been reconsidered politically, by legislation in Congress as well as constitutionally by federal courts, in recent months.

In September, legislation to repeal "don't ask, don't tell" failed in the Senate when Democrats fell one vote short of the 60 votes needed to advance the bill.

The House has already approved a conditional repeal of "don't ask, don't tell."

More than 75 percent of Americans believe gays should be allowed to serve openly in the military, a support rate higher than at any other time since the policy took effect in 1993, according to the most recent ABC News/Washington Post poll.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Pentagon's Review of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' to Be Released

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The Pentagon's review of the "don't ask, don't tell" policy that has banned gays and lesbians from serving openly in the military will be released Tuesday.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates convened the Comprehensive Review Working Group earlier this year to determine how the Defense Department might implement a repeal of the 1993 law.

The controversial law has been reconsidered politically, by legislation in Congress, as well as constitutionally, by federal courts, in recent months.

The House has already approved a conditional repeal of "don't ask, don't tell."

More than 75 percent of Americans believe gays should be allowed to serve openly in the military, a support rate higher than at any other time since the policy took effect in 1993, according to the most recent ABC News/Washington Post poll.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

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