About Neal Simpson
…it was never lost on me that in those nations I would be in danger if I appeared to be gay. Even in liberal Bahrain, where I went to clubs and bars with other Marines and Sailors, I was constantly aware of the risks associated with being outed…
This week the United States celebrated the holiday known as Veterans Day. Originally declared a federal holiday by President Woodrow Wilson in 1919, the day commemorated the signing of the armistice between Germany and the Allied Powers a year earlier in November of 1918, officially marking the end of hostilities in what was supposed to be ‘the war to end all wars.’
Do the Boy Scouts have a moral obligation to include LGBT members, even though they have no legal obligation to do so?
by Neal Simpson
In a press release on June 7, 2012, Boy Scouts of America (BSA) clarified its membership policy in response to an online petition accompanied by over 275,000 (now just short of 300,000) signatures. The petition asked BSA to consider reinstating Cub Scout leader and open lesbian Jennifer Tyrrell, as well as allowing local units to set their own membership policies regarding homosexual scouts and leaders. The BSA’s press release made it clear that while they encourage members to contact the board, they are not considering a change to their membership policy at this time.
Because BSA is a private organization, they are free to set their policies however they see fit. This includes everything to the types and qualifications for rank advancement and merit badges to the types of training they require for leadership positions. It also means, as demonstrated by the US Supreme Court in Boy Scouts of America v. Dale (pp. 640, No. 99–699, argued April 26, 2000—decided June 28, 2000), that BSA can lawfully exclude openly gay persons from membership, whether as scouts or as leaders.
In recent weeks, the issue has become a bit more contentious, with BSA Board Member James Turley, CEO of Ernst and Young becoming the first board member to come out in favor of changing the policy. Turley said in a statement “that the membership policy is not one [he] would personally endorse. While two other BSA officials (including the president) issued statements nebulously supporting Turley’s right to speak his mind while not commenting directly on his opinion, BSA announced that it will conduct a routine review of its membership policy in 2013.
While it is unlikely that BSA will change its policy anytime soon, and it is equally unlikely that the courts will require that they do so, this impending policy review does seem to signal that change may be possible at some point in the future.
by Neal Simpson
The movie “Bully” opened in select theaters across the country on March 20th. It opened everywhere April 13th. While it addresses some LGBT youth, its focus is much broader. It’s about bullied kids from all walks of life—picked on primarily because they were different.
I went and saw the movie last night, just over a week after it came out in San Diego, expecting a nice crowd of concerned citizens to be there with me. After all, I went to see it in Hillcrest, the trendy, hip gayborhood of San Diego. Including me and my friend Chris, there were twelve of us in the theater. Worse than that, before the movie I texted several of my friends to tell them I was going and to see who wanted to go. Not one of them even knew about the movie’s existence. Not one. I have hip friends. I have activist friends. I have friends who were bullied and who believe in and fight for the cause. Yet few of my friends have any clue what this movie is or why they should see it. This is tragic.
This movie, that profiles a number of tweens and teens as they struggle with their bullies, is a brilliant film. It’s raw, deep, and painfully real. The truly cold hearted still wipe their eyes after watching the funeral for an 11 year old boy who killed himself after being relentlessly bullied. This movie is powerful, and it addresses a subject very uncomfortable for most of us to talk about because we don’t have a good solution. It’s easy as an adult to say “kids will be kids” and “bullying makes them learn to stick up for themselves.” It’s easy, that is, until the dead kid is one you know.
Master Sgt. Corey Wade’s March 7, 2012 letter to the editor of Stars and Stripes was not really about the picture of Sgt Brandon Morgan. It was about Master Sgt Wade’s religious convictions and his prejudices against those who identify as LGBT.
Stars and Stripes acted within their rights as a news organization to print Master Sgt Wade’s letter to the editor. Additionally, Master Sgt Wade acted within his First Amendment rights to believe what he believes and express those beliefs in such a manner. Although perhaps no aligned with the formal rules governing the public display of affection in uniform, Sgt Morgan’s kiss was within the established norms of service members returning home to their loved ones. However, readers should pay close attention to what they read so as not to draw inaccurate conclusions from a writer’s words. Master Sgt Wade’s letter was not a legitimate complaint about Sgt Morgan’s kiss or about Stars and Stripes’ decision to print the picture. The letter served only to highlight Wade’s religious beliefs and his biases.
I say enough is enough.
Just as no two LGB service members are the same, no chain of command faced identical issues with the repeal. For many commands, there was no tangible change; the training happened, the president signed the law, nobody came out, and everything stayed the same. Many commands experienced immediate change, however.
Sept. 20, 2011 passed by like any other Tuesday at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point; classes proceeded normally and life was ‘business-as-usual.’ This is according to Tyler, a sophomore cadet at West Point, originally from southeast Michigan.