Integrity Legal

Posts Tagged ‘Don’t Ask Don’t Tell’

17th July 2011

It recently came to this blogger’s attention that members of the American Armed Services were recently noted for their apparent presence at a recent march in support of equal rights for the LGBT community. To quote directly from the official website of the Reuters News Service, Reuters.com:

A group of U.S. service members marched in a San Diego gay pride parade on Saturday, in a demonstration organizers touted as an unprecedented step for gay and lesbian military personnel under the Pentagon’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy…The march came a day after a three-judge panel of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals temporarily reinstated the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy on gays, but blocked the Pentagon from penalizing or discharging anyone for being openly gay. The decision marked a reversal from an earlier order to immediately end the policy…

The administration of this blog asks readers to click upon the relevant hyperlinks noted above to learn more about these developments.

Frequent readers of this web log may take note of the fact that the 9th Circuit’s decision in the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” matter came down almost contemporaneously with the decision by the United States Bankruptcy Courts to begin allowing bankruptcy petitions from same sex couples if a couple in question has entered into a same sex marriage in one of those jurisdictions which permit such marital unions. This news comes after the announcement that the United States Senate is set to hold hearing regarding the so-called “Defense of Marriage Act” and a possible substitute for that legislation in the form of the Respect for Marriage Act. In fact, it was recently announced that the chairman of said proceedings has already been named. In order to provide further insight it is necessary to quote directly from the website of News Radio WGMD 92.7, WGMD.com:

Senator Chris Coons will chair the second panel of the Senate Judiciary Committee which will consider legislation that would repeal the Defense of Marriage Act.  Coons is a co-sponsor of the Respect for Marriage Act and says that DOMA is discriminatory and deserves to be repealed.  Coons says this hearing is important as it will study the impact that DOMA has had on American families.

This blogger asks readers to click upon the links above to read this posting in detail.

It currently remains to be seen how the presence of Senator Chris Coons chairing the upcoming committee meeting will impact the overall debate on DOMA, but readers may recall that Representative Jerrold Nadler recently introduced both the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA) and the Respect for Marriage Act in the United States House of Representatives. These pieces of proposed legislation are designed to put an end to, at least, some of the current legal discrimination being borne by the American LGBT community. UAFA merely deals with the discrimination currently being applied to the LGBT community in an American immigration context while the Respect for Marriage Act was designed to provide a kind of legal certainty to those same sex couples who have married in one of those jurisdictions which legalize and/or solemnize such unions.

For related information please see: Full Faith and Credit Clause.

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8th July 2011

It recently came to this blogger’s attention that a Federal Court injunction has once again been put into effect with respect to the issue of the American military’s so-called “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy. To provide further information on this matter it is necessary to quote directly from the online home of the San Fransisco Chronicle at SFGate.com:

SAN FRANCISCO — A federal appeals court ordered a halt Wednesday to the armed forces’ policy of discharging openly gay service members, citing the impending demise of “don’t ask, don’t tell” and the Obama administration’s escalating criticism of antigay laws. Congress has already voted to repeal “don’t ask, don’t tell,” the 1993 law that barred military service by gays and lesbians who disclose their sexual orientation. But the repeal was due to take effect only after the Pentagon certified that the change in the law would not interfere with military readiness or recruiting, a finding the Obama administration had projected for the end of this year. On Wednesday, however, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco – which had previously allowed the government to follow its own timetable – reinstated a federal judge’s injunction that had briefly barred enforcement of the law last fall before it was suspended…

The administration of this blog asks readers to click upon the hyperlinks noted above to read all of this interesting story by the aforementioned newspaper’s staff writer Bob Egelko.

As has been previously pointed out in the pages of this web log, the American Armed Forces should be commended for their efforts to quickly and efficiently integrate the LGBT community into their honored ranks. This blogger would speculate that the open inclusion of members of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (also sometimes referred to colloquially as the “third sex” in Thailand) community will only make the United States military a stronger and more cohesive force for the advancement of freedom and liberty around the globe. Posterity may one day note that the aforementioned injunction was not necessary, but the force of law which comes “part and parcel” with a federal injunction can only help the efforts of those struggling for LGBT equality.

Readers may note that the American federal government does not recognize same sex marriage even those same sex marital unions which are legalized and/or solemnized by one of the sovereign American States. Although, it would appear as though one major obstacle in the path of LGBT equality could soon be overcome since the Judiciary Committee of the United States Senate may soon hold hearings regarding the repeal of the so-called “Defense of Marriage Act” (DOMA) with an eye toward the possible recommendation of something similar to the Respect for Marriage Act. In order to provide detailed information regarding these developments it may be wise to quote directly from Advocate.com:

The Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a first-ever hearing on efforts to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act “in the coming weeks,” committee chair Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont announced Thursday. A committee spokeswoman said a date has yet to be set for the hearing on the Respect for Marriage Act, introduced in March by Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California and currently supported by 25 senate cosponsors, including Leahy and New York senator Kirsten Gillibrand. A witness list for the hearing, which will be webcast, has not been finalized…

This blogger strongly encourages readers to click upon the relevant hyperlinks above to read from this insightful article by Andrew Harmon.

Frequent readers of this blog may have noticed that a piece of legislation similar to that noted above was also introduced in the United States House of Representatives by Representative Jerrold Nadler who also introduced the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA) which is a bill that would provide United States visa benefits to same sex bi-national couples which would be substantially similar to those currently enjoyed by many different-sex bi-national couples (ex. the CR-1 visa, the IR-1 visa, or the K-1 visa). It should be noted that Representative Mike Honda also appears to have included UAFA-like language in the provisions of his proposed Reuniting Families Act. As of the time of this writing, none of this legislation has seen passage. However, in order for any bill to become a law it must first see passage in both houses of the American Congress and Senate Judiciary Committee hearings are a vital first step in effecting legislative change at the Senatorial level. Therefore, these developments may ultimately prove to be of the initial phases in a process that culminates with full LGBT equality under the law of the United States of America.

For related information please see: Full Faith and Credit Clause.

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10th May 2011

It recently came to this blogger’s attention that the United States Navy, that indomitable symbol of America’s prowess on the high seas, has taken steps to begin solemnizing marital unions between those of the same gender. To quote directly from the Huffington Post:

WASHINGTON — Navy chaplains will be trained about their ability to perform same-sex civil marriage ceremonies under new guidance that would take effect if the Defense Department moves to recognize openly gay military service. Navy officials said Monday that they updated the training after questions came up about civil ceremonies for gay couples. Military training to apply the new law allowing gays to serve openly began earlier this year, and is expected to be complete by mid-summer.

For those who are unfamiliar with this topic it should be noted that the relatively recent repeal of the so-called “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy has resulted in the need for measures to integrate members of the LGBT community into the American armed forces. One component of such an integration is that same sex couples be permitted to marry, especially in State jurisdictions which explicitly allow such unions. However, this issue is not exactly “cut and dried,” to quote further from the aforementioned article:

The Navy ceremonies would be allowed at military facilities such as chapel and catering centers, but only in states that already recognize same-sex unions. And, even if a marriage is performed, same-sex partners would not get any health, housing or other benefits that are provided to married couples involving a man and woman.

The administration of this web log strongly encourages readers to click on the hyperlinks noted above to read this story in detail and learn more about these issues.

Clearly, there exists a States’ Rights component to the analysis of same sex marriage especially in light of the fact that 6 sovereign States and the District of Columbia have begun legalizing and solemnizing same sex marital unions within their respective jurisdictions. However, the final sentence of the above quotation should be concerning to same sex bi-national couples and the LGBT community as a whole. Although it is certainly positive that the American Navy is taking steps to begin solemnizing same sex unions while the overall legal stature of such unions is being determined, same sex couples are likely to continue to find themselves the victim of discrimination and double standards within the current American legal system.

Presently, there are cases in the judicial system which address these issues, but they have yet to take legal effect. Meanwhile, legislators such as Representative Jerrold Nadler have supported legislation such as the Respect for Marriage Act and the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA) which would deal with the American government’s current discrimination against the LGBT community. Until such time as federal legislation is passed to repeal the provisions of the so-called “Defense of Marriage Act” (DOMA), or judicial action is taken to overturn this legislation, it would appear likely that same sex couples will continue to be the object of discrimination notwithstanding the fact that such discrimination (regardless of whether it is being carried out under the “color of law”) violates Americans’ natural rights pursuant to ancient notions such as Magna Carta and the specific provisions protecting free association within the language of the U.S. Constitution. Meanwhile, there is a strong argument that the federal government’s current failure to recognize same sex marriages solemnized and/or legalized within the jurisdiction of a sovereign American State violates the 10th Amendment of the Constitution since the provisions thereof reserve certain rights to the American States and People, respectively.  Licensure of marriage in an intrastate context has long been viewed by many Constitutional scholars as an exclusively State prerogative.

For related information please see: LGBT Immigration.

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30th December 2010

In an interesting recent turn of events LGBT Equal Rights advocates have seen many political victories in recent weeks. This blogger came across and interesting article on the website Wikinews.org, to quote directly from Wikinews:

Friday, December 24, 2010

In an interview on the United States television show Good Morning America today, U.S. vice president Joe Biden said that a positive consensus on same-sex marriage is “inevitable” as the country “evolves.”

“[There is] inevitability for a national consensus on gay marriage. I think the country’s evolving. And I think you’re going to see, you know, the next effort is probably going to be to deal with so-called DOMA,” said Biden.

For those who are unfamiliar with the issues surrounding the struggle for LGBT Equal Rights the so-called Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) currently bars the United States Federal government from recognizing same sex marriage (or any other sort of same sex civil union). The Federal government, pursuant to the provisions of DOMA, is not even permitted to recognize those same sex marriages which are legalized and solemnized pursuant to an American State’s law. Currently, 5 US States allow some form of same sex marriage or civil union. For Immigration purposes, DOMA is a significant piece of legislation as it forces the American Federal government to restrict family immigration benefits to different sex couples. The product of these circumstances as they sit now is a situation in which many bi-national couples are separated from each other by borders, and sometimes oceans. Wikinews.org went on:

Biden’s remarks come just days after U.S. president Barack Obama signed into law, the repeal of Don’t ask, don’t tell (DADT). The repeal, which was signed by Obama on Thursday, will now allow gay and lesbian service members to serve openly in the country’s military, without fear that they will be discharged form service. A report by The Pentagon earlier this month concluded most U.S. service personnel do not believe reform of the rules on gays and lesbians serving in the military would affect morale, unit cohesion or military effectiveness. The report found only 30% believed that changing the law would have a negative effect. DADT, in effect for 17 years, was repealed by the United States Senate on Saturday. The military will cease enforcement of the policy in 60 days time, after the Pentagon has certified to Congress that it, and the military are ready to implement the new law.[sic]

The repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell was a significant step forward for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgendered (LGBT) individuals, but full equality under the law has yet to materialize especially as DOMA remains in place thereby precluding family immigration benefits for LGBT couples. Some lawmakers have attempted to draft legislation to deal directly with the issue of discrimination of bi-national same sex couples for immigration purposes. In recent years, legislation such as the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA) has been introduced to allow “permanent partners” of American Citizens or Lawful Permanent Residents to obtain immigration benefits similar to those granted to different-sex spouses of US Citizens and Lawful Permanent Residents. This blogger recently came upon an interesting webpage pertaining to this issue on the website logcabin.org, the official website of the Log Cabin Republicans, to quote directly from said webpage:

The Uniting American Families Act (UAFA), pending in Congress, would end the discrimination against gays and lesbians in immigration laws by allowing U.S. citizens and permanent residents to sponsor their same-sex partners for immigration benefits. The version of the bill introduced in the House last February (H.R.1024) currently has 116 cosponsors, while the Senate version (S. 424) has 22 cosponsors. In addition, the Reuniting Families Act (H.R.2709) also includes UAFA as a provision of the larger immigration bill.

While some groups hostile to immigration fear that the UAFA would open the floodgates to massive immigration, such fears are unfounded. It would grant residency only to those foreign nationals involved in a financially interdependent permanent partnership with a U.S. citizen. Many of these individuals have already been living in the U.S. for years on special work or student visas and have been contributing to American society. In any event, the administrative checks that ensure that heterosexual couples applying for residency are not involved in a “sham” relationship will do the same for gay and lesbian couples. The measure is simply not a conduit for unfettered immigration.

There would seem to have been some speculation that passage of an UAFA-like piece of legislation would result in an explosion of fraudulent visa applications submitted by those wishing to take advantage of what appears, at first glance, to be a new avenue for seeking immigration benefits through use of a “sham” relationship. In this authors opinion, it is highly unlikely that passage of UAFA-like legislation would result in a significant increase in immigration fraud as the United States government currently has a very sophisticated system in place which is designed to root out immigration fraud at multiple levels of the immigration system and at multiple phases of the overall United States immigration process.

Hopefully, as Vice President Biden noted above, a “positive consensus” on this issue can be reached with the end result being the unification of bi-national families in America.

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23rd December 2010

Those who frequently read this web log may have noticed that this author occasionally comments upon the progress of American gaming legislation as recent legislative enactments have greatly altered the online gaming landscape. Although this issue would not seem similar to that of LGBT rights at first blush, there are some commonalities from a legal perspective which were recently noted in an article written by April Gardner for the website casinogamblingweb.com. To quote directly from this article:

US lawmakers took the first step on Saturday towards giving all Americans the same rights and freedoms when the Senate voted to repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. Online poker players are hoping this was the first step towards full freedom, and that the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act repeal may be next.

The repeal of the policy referred to as “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” was a significant achievement for proponents of LGBT rights. That said, as noted in a previous posting on this blog, the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) still continues to act as a barrier to equal immigration rights for same sex bi-national couples as well as LGBT bi-national couples. At one point, it was thought that the Defense of Marriage Act’s provisions might be circumvented in the context of US Immigration through enactment of the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA), but, alas, this legislation has yet to be enacted. Therefore, there are those who argue that there is still a long way to go in the fight for equal rights for the LGBT community. That said, the article went on to note:

The Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell law is one that Democrats have been pushing hard to repeal for several years. Another of those ill-advised laws on the radar for Liberals is the UIGEA. In recent weeks, Senator Harry Reid has proposed an online poker bill, but that legislation alone would not have overturned the UIGEA.

Although at first glance the UIGEA (the Unlawful  Internet Gambling Enforcement Act) and the policy of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” would seem to be dissimilar in nature. In fact, these two issues touch upon a very significant issue which seems to be continuously debated in the United States. This issue transcends party ideology: personal freedom. The ability to freely, peaceably, and consensually associate with whomever one chooses is a fundamental right enshrined in the United States Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Many would argue that the law forbidding same sex bi-national couples, even those lawfully married in one of the 5 US States which currently solemnize same sex unions, from obtaining the same immigration rights as different sex couples is self-evidently a violation of the right to equal protection under American law. In this same vein, there are many who argue that Americans should have the ability to choose to participate in online gaming so long as they are above the lawful age to engage in such activity in their jurisdiction and the gaming operation is regulated so as to ensure that games are fair and the gaming operator is solvent. That said, the author of the aforementioned article seems pessimistic about the short term future of legislation designed to regulate and thereby legitimize online gaming:

It is unlikely that online gambling prohibition will be discussed in the closing days of the lame-duck session. For online poker players, however, they can take comfort in the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell repeal.

The repeal shows that everything is worth the wait, as millions of gay and lesbians exhibited Saturday through tears of joy. It may take a little longer, but those tears of joy will eventually come for the millions of online gamblers in this country as well.

Truly, the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” was a monumental step forward for advocates of Equal Rights, but the issue of online gaming remains both controversial and complicated in the USA as many different jurisdictional issues arise especially in the context of the internet and World Wide Web. Therefore, it remains to be seen what the US Congress will ultimately decide to do with regard to online gaming, but hopefully the eventual outcome will result in positive benefits for players, operators, and the United States economy as this sector could prove to be an area of job growth for the USA in the coming years.

For related information please see: Online Gaming Law or Same Sex Marriage Visa.

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