A Choice, Not An Echo

Thanks to Caleb Pritt for reviewing the candidates for Alaska Governor & Lt. Governor in light of LGBT and other issues! -Editor

By guest blogger Caleb Pritt

Alaska's voters, especially the GLBT Community, have a clear and distinct choice when it comes to the Governor/Lt. Governor's race this year: Ethan Berkowitz & Diane Benson.

In one corner is Sean Parnell & Mead Treadwell and in the other, Ethan Berkowitz & Diane Benson. There are more than just issues that directly affect the GLBT Community. There are Quality of Life issues, and issues that affect Alaska's future.

On all these issues, there is one team that is the choice for Alaska: Ethan Berkowitz & Diane Benson. With one, you have in the Governor's office not just a former nominee for Lt. Governor & U.S. Congress, but a former member of the Alaska State House of Representatives from 1996-2006, where he was Minority Leader. With the other, you have a woman whose mere election makes Alaska historic as Alaska becomes the first state to elect a Native American woman to the highest elective office ever held in this nation. You also have a fierce advocate for the GLBT Community who was not afraid to stand with other advocates against anti-civil rights legislation whether it's before the Anchorage Assembly or the State of Alaska.

There's also the OWN A PIECE OF THE PIPE Plan that Berkowitz-Benson are offering to help build the illusive Natural Gas Pipeline. Bill Walker may have unfortunately lost the GOP Primary for Governor, but if you support an All-Alaska Pipeline, or any type of pipeline for Alaska, then Berkowitz-Benson is your choice.

There also has to be a fundamental question asked about who is in this race for Alaska's interests, not their own personal self-interest? The choice is still Ethan Berkowitz & Diane Benson.

When it comes to GLBT issues, Sean Parnell has been a demagogue if not an outright ignorant individual on recognizing the right of ALL Alaskans to be afforded their basic civil rights. Let's not forget that this is the Governor that had Alaska taxpayers pay for him to meet with Focus on the Family, a group known for being homophobic. Also, Parnell as well as Treadwell embraced Proposition Two which doesn't do much to notify parents as it imposes the state's ability to tell a woman what she can and cannot do with her body. Parnell also has condemned homosexuality more than once. Parnell even committed Alaska's money, that could be spent on a natural gas pipeline, to a frivolous lawsuit challenging the Health Care Reform bill. This is not a precedent, btw Libertarian-minded readers, as I hardly would hold my breath waiting for Parnell to challenge not lifting the DADT Ban, for instance.

Mead Treadwell supporters have offered a weak response that "Mead is really supportive of the GLBT Community but he can't be open about it." Really, because being a supporter for the GLBT Community never stopped Arliss Sturgulewski when she was in the Alaska State Senate and twice the Republican nominee for Governor. It never stopped Jay Hammond either when he was Governor and opposed the anti-gay rhetoric of demagogues like Tom Fink.

When it comes to the gas pipeline, Sean Parnell gave away millions of Alaska's dollars to a company without any guarantee they had to do anything. No guarantee of an All-Alaska Pipeline, Trans-Canada Pipeline, anywhere Pipeline. Parnell gave them the money and they have rewarded his campaign with donations. In fact, his campaign spokesperson is married to one of Shell's Executives. But hey, there's no link of impropriety, is there? I mean the Governor of Alaska, Sean Parnell, would never suggest Quid Pro Quo with the wealthy oil executives and corporations. No....he just takes care of them, not Alaska.

Also, the paint on the office door of the Lt. Governor's office was not dry before Sean Parnell tried to run for U.S. Congress. Mead Treadwell meanwhile sought a coveted and key position in the Barack Obama Administration, then when it was politically expidient, he threw President Obama under the bus to gain support of Republican conservatives and hide the fact that his paycheck came from Barack Obama. Then again, Mead Treadwell threw Lisa Murkowski under the bus to gain support of the "conservative" groups in his bid for Lt. Governor.

In 1964, Barry Goldwater's slogan was "A Choice, Not An Echo" to show he stood for something. One has to wonder where that true conservative's desire to stand for something is lacking in the modern-day representation in Alaska otherwise known as Acting Governor Sean Parnell. Luckily, the two progressive candidates for Governor & Lt. Governor are providing Alaskans with a choice.

In the end, to quote Diane Benson, it's time for the People of Alaska to come first. This race is not about Democrat v. Republican or Tea vs. Coffee. It's not about Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender v. Heterosexual. No, the race for Governor & Lt. Governor is about Alaska and Alaska's future. One team has a plan while the other has just talk. One team has a record of earning their way to where they are at, while the other team is just some politicians. One team is about Alaska, and the other is about preserving their own political power.

The choice is clear Alaska: the All Alaska choice in November is Ethan Berkowitz for Governor & Diane Benson for Lt. Governor.

On November 2nd, vote for Alaska....vote for Berkowitz-Benson.


Disclaimer: The author served as the campaign manager for Diane Benson in her successful primary bid for Lt. Governor. A primary that Benson won with 71%, incidentally.

Dan Savage: "It Gets Better"

Savage Love columnist Dan Savage, who spoke to sold out crowds at UAA two years in a row, has a new video project to give hope to gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and queer youth who are harassed for being different and remind them that there is life after high school - and it can be great!

It started when Savage wrote a column about a gay teenager in Indiana who killed himself:
Billy Lucas was just 15 when he hanged himself in a barn on his grandmother's property. He reportedly endured intense bullying at the hands of his classmates—classmates who called him a fag and told him to kill himself. His mother found his body.

Nine out of 10 gay teenagers experience bullying and harassment at school, and gay teens are four times likelier to attempt suicide. Many LGBT kids who do kill themselves live in rural areas, exurbs, and suburban areas, places with no gay organizations or services for queer kids.

"My heart breaks for the pain and torment you went through, Billy Lucas," a reader wrote after I posted about Billy Lucas to my blog. "I wish I could have told you that things get better."

I had the same reaction: I wish I could have talked to this kid for five minutes. I wish I could have told Billy that it gets better. I wish I could have told him that, however bad things were, however isolated and alone he was, it gets better.

But gay adults aren't allowed to talk to these kids. Schools and churches don't bring us in to talk to teenagers who are being bullied. Many of these kids have homophobic parents who believe that they can prevent their gay children from growing up to be gay—or from ever coming out—by depriving them of information, resources, and positive role models.

Why are we waiting for permission to talk to these kids? We have the ability to talk directly to them right now. We don't have to wait for permission to let them know that it gets better. We can reach these kids.

So here's what you can do: Make a video. Tell them it gets better.

I've launched a channel on YouTube—www ­.youtube.com/itgetsbetterproject—to host these videos. My normally camera-shy husband and I already posted one. We both went to Christian schools and we were both bullied—he had it a lot worse than I did—and we are living proof that it gets better. We don't dwell too much on the past. Instead, we talk mostly about all the meaningful things in our lives now—our families, our friends (gay and straight), the places we've gone and things we've experienced—that we would've missed out on if we'd killed ourselves then.


We can't help Billy, but there are lots of other Billys out there—other despairing LGBT kids who are being bullied and harassed, kids who don't think they have a future—and we can help them.

They need to know that it gets better. Submit a video. Give them hope.
Dan Savage and his husband Terry talk about being bullied in high school for being gay and how their lives got so much better as adults:

Do you have a good story to tell about how life got better for you as an adult? They want to hear your story of How It Got Better!
It would be great to get some more videos that include more than one person. Gay couples, groups of friends, straight people and their gay friends. And we have lots of videos from folks who are focusing on what they suffered—which absolutely should be touched on. But it would be great to see some more videos that give young gay kids a picture of the lives they could make for themselves if they just hang in there... So if you decide to make a video, don't just share your pain. Share your joy too.
There are dozens of videos listed as favorites on the It Gets Better YouTube site, and now cities are joining the project.

San Francisco was the first city to respond with an "It Gets Better" video. Check it out:

If you're in Alaska and you make an "It Gets Better" video, please send the link to Bent Alaska so I can post it here as well.

There's a big beautiful world out there waiting for you. It gets better. Trust me.

Anti-Gay Michele Bachmann endorses Joe Miller *more video*

The Joe Miller campaign has uploaded an endorsement from virulently anti-gay Rep. Bachmann (very far R-MN), his only video endorsement by a member of Congress:

In addition to saying that gays are "a part of Satan," Bachman also said that being gay is "personal enslavement" and a mental disorder. She spoke out against the federal hate crimes bill protecting gays and lesbians, saying that the bill would protect pedophiles. She thinks it's "child abuse" to teach that being gay is normal.

Bachmann has ties to a Christian rock band whose lead singer praised conservative Muslim countries for executing gays. Bachmann praised the band, saying, "I thank God that He has given you the strength and the resolve to fight for our timeless values."

Joe Miller is a lawyer running as Alaska's GOP candidate for the U.S. Senate, against Democrat Scott McAdams and write-in candidate Sen. Lisa Murkowski. Miller believes that "homosexuality is a sin, and therefore immoral," and called the Hate Crimes Act passed by Congress last year "the Left's radical social agenda."

Miller is also endorsed by Sarah Palin.

Check out this brilliant parody of Bachmann:

What will you lose if the anti-gays win?

A new video project from the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund asks LGBT Americans, "What will you lose?" if the social conservatives get their way.
Anti-gay extremists are growing louder. But they don't just want to stop progress, they want to roll it back.

If they win, they'll kick brave troops out of the military, stop partner visitation rights in hospitals and prevent gays and lesbians from adopting kids who need loving homes.

They'll make sure its legal to fire us for being gay or transgender.

Some have even said it's time to criminalize homosexuality itself.

If they win, what will you lose?
Record your answer and upload it, and pledge to support pro-LGBT candidates in the November election.
Had enough? Take action!

Tell us in a 15-second video what YOU would lose if the extremists win. Upload your video to this site and tell your friends and family to watch it and watch other videos from LGBT Americans and their allies.


Sign the pledge and tell your friends and family what you'd lose if anti-gay extremists win this November. Pledge to support candidates this November who speak openly and honestly about the LGBT community. To counter the lies and hate spread by anti-gay extremists and the campaigns they're dumping millions of dollars into across the country.

Make sure the people who love you know what will happen if we don't keep fighting.

Make sure they know what you'll lose.
Watch the promo video:

Sara's News Roundup 9/26/10

Recent LGBT news selected by Sara Boesser in Juneau, Alaska.

Advocate, September 24, 2010

Washington, Advocate, September 22, 2010

Atlanta, National Black Justice Coalition, September 2010

New York City, 365Gay.com, September 23, 2010

New York, Irish Central, September 22, 2010

San Francisco, Bay Area Reporter, September 23, 2010

Los Angeles, Advocate, September 23, 2010

Atlanta, Yahoo News, September 23, 2010

Atlanta, Newsweek, September 23, 2010

San Francisco, New York Times, September 23, 2010

Michigan, City Pulse, September 22, 2010

Poland, News Scotsman, September 26, 2010

Washington, The Age, September 19, 2010

Washington, Advocate October 2010

Court rules Air Force must reinstated lesbian major

While Congress plays politics with DADT, the courts move steadily toward overturning the ban.

On Friday afternoon, U.S. District Judge Ronald Leighton ruled that the Air Force violated the constitutional rights of Maj. Margaret Witt, and ordered that the highly decorated flight nurse be reinstated. During the six-day trial, the military failed to prove that firing her helped to achieve its goals, including unit morale. In fact, the evidence showed that morale suffered only because of her suspension and discharge.

This is the second court ruling this month declaring Don't Ask, Don't Tell unconstitutional. On Sept 9, another federal judge ruled that DADT is unconstitutional because it violates the 1st and 5th Amendment rights of gay and lesbian soldiers.

Major Witt was on The Rachel Maddow Show discussing her case a few hours after the ruling:

McAdams on DADT *update*

Scott McAdams, Mayor of Sitka, former school board member and Alaska's Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate, confirmed that he opposes Don't Ask, Don't Tell, and would have voted for the repeal. In addition, he sent this statement:
"At a time when the U.S. has 50,000 troops on the ground and is still fighting a war in Afghanistan, it's irresponsible to exclude any skilled, combat-ready troops from service. Individuals who are willing to sacrifice their lives for their country don't deserve to be discriminated against." - SCOTT McADAMS
It's a mild statement, but not bad for a democrat running in an independent/red state. Now we have a real choice for senate. Instead of waiting for the magic opinion polls to tell us who has the best chance of beating Joe Miller - and hoping they're right - we can unite behind a candidate who will actually vote for equality and fairness.

UPDATE: Check out the newer, stronger McAdams statement on DADT, answer #3 on his questionnaire for Daily Kos, where he is a highlighted Orange to Blue candidate. Guess his campaign got the message that DADT is an easy one.

When Lisa didn't show up for the big senate vote on Don't Ask, Don't Tell this week, her campaign manager confirmed that she would have voted against the repeal if she'd been there. The GOP voted as a block to prevent DADT from even being debated, just like they're blocking the other changes we voted for: no honesty for gays and lesbians in the military, no gay families included in immigration reform, no fairness at work, no marriage, no healthcare, no rights.

We called Lisa, filled her voicemail box with messages for the repeal of DADT, gave her a chance to be Alaska's moderate candidate. She choose partisan politics - for the party that rejected her - over doing what 75% of Americans know is right and fair.

DADT is likely to come up for another vote in the U.S. Senate, either in December or next year.

Scott McAdams knows what is fair, and will vote to protect our troops from discrimination. Please get to know him and spread the word.

What's next for DADT?

First, Rachel Maddow rips apart the GOP excuses for Tuesday's epic fail senate vote against the "don't ask, don't tell" repeal:

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Later, Maddow outlines the three best options for moving forward on DADT:
  1. another Senate attempt during the "lame duck" session after the mid-term election,
  2. an executive order from the president ending the policy (or at least stopping the discharges until the Pentagon removes the policy), and/or
  3. The Department of Justice can choose not to appeal the recent court decision that DADT is unconstitutional.
The "don't appeal" strategy is gaining more support now that the senate repeal is on hold. A New York Times editorial on DADT notes:
President Obama, the House and a majority of senators clearly support an end to "don't ask, don't tell," but that, of course, is insufficient in the upside-down world of today's Senate, where 40 members can block anything.

If the military's unjust policy is not repealed in the lame-duck session, there is another way out. The Obama administration can choose not to appeal Judge Phillips's ruling that the policy is unconstitutional, and simply stop ejecting soldiers.
U.S. district court judge Virginia Phillips ruled the 17-year-old law unconstitutional on September 9. The plaintiffs, the Log Cabin Republicans, filed for an end to the enforcement of DADT, and the Department of Justice is scheduled to respond with their own proposal on Thursday.

Democrats in the U.S. House, led by the three openly gay members - Barney Frank (D-MA), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), and Jared Polis (D-CO) - wrote a letter to Pres. Obama urging him not to appeal the federal court decision:
We consider this matter a top priority to our service members, the American people and the security of the United States. We acknowledge and appreciate your support and hope that together we can end this dishonorable policy once and for all. We hope that you, as the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Services, will take this opportunity to restore integrity to our military and decline to appeal Judge Phillips' ruling.
Americablog also points out:
If DOJ pursues an appeal, Obama's administration will be defending the constitutionality of DADT and DOMA in court -- right smack in the middle of his reelection campaign.
And they think the approval ratings are low now! Stay tuned for the DOJ's response.

Senate fails to end filibuster on Don't Ask Don't Tell, Lisa too busy to vote UPDATE

The cloture vote on DADT was rejected 56-43 today. We needed 60 votes to end Sen. McCain's filibuster. Senator Murkowski was busy with her write-in campaign and didn't bother to vote. The two Democratic senators from Arkansas voted against their party. Seeing that cloture would not pass, Sen. Harry Reid had to vote "no" as well, so that he can reintroduce the bill another time.

UPDATE: The Dispatch reports that Lisa would have voted against the DADT repeal:
Mike Brumas, Murkowski's Senate spokesman, confirmed that Murkowski would have voted "nay" on the cloture motion... if she had been in D.C.
The next chance to consider the National Defense Authorization Act, with both the DREAM Act and the DADT repeal amendments, will likely be in December after the mid-term elections.

"Today's vote is a failure of leadership on the part of those who have been duly elected to serve this nation and to put the best interests of the country ahead of partisan politics," said Alexander Nicholson of Servicemembers United. "It is simply inexcusable that this vote failed today."

In Alaska, we gave Senator Murkowski a chance to show her support for our troops and for fairness, to establish herself as the moderate candidate before the November election. Instead, she showed her loyalty to the GOP and gave in to the social conservatives who voted her out of office a few weeks ago.

She made her choice, now we will make our choice.

Will Lisa vote for the Don't Ask, Don't Tell repeal?

The word from DC is that Senator Murkowski is considering voting for the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell, the military ban against openly serving gays and lesbians. LGR wrote that Murkowski is listening:
Our DC staffer is on the Hill right now, and according to Senator Murkowski's staff, the Senator is more than willing to listen to the calls. Her official phone number is (202) 224-6665, though the Senate can be reached via (202) 224-3121. LGBT Alaskans should call her and ask for her to vote for the repeal and to start and end debate over this.
By 9 p.m. on Monday, Lisa's DC voicemail box was full for the day. If it's full on Tuesday, call her Anchorage office at 907-271-3735, Fairbanks at 907-456-0233 or toll free in Alaska at 1-877-829-6030. Her email contact form is HERE.

Lisa announced a write-in campaign on Friday against the Palin-endorsed Joe Miller and Democrat Scott McAdams. She has only 6 weeks (and a few more for the recount?) as Alaska's Republican senator - after that, either she will be our write-in senator or she will be unemployed.

Voting for the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" would be one way for her to declare her independent status in Congress and get back at the GOP leaders who are lining up to support Miller.

The Senate cloture vote on DADT is scheduled for Tuesday. Alaska has an unexpected opportunity to help repeal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" and stop the filibuster. Let's make the most of it.

Call Senator Murkowski today at (202) 224-6665 or toll free in Alaska at 1-877-829-6030 and ask her to vote for the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell.

Sara's News Roundup 9/19/10

Recent LGBT news selected by Sara Boesser in Juneau, Alaska.

Australia, Crikey.com, September 15, 2010

Advocate, September 17, 2010

Washington, Advocate, September 9, 2010

Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies in Religions and Ministry

Carson City, Nevada, KOLO TV, September 21, 2010

Seattle, 365Gay.com, September 13, 2010

Toronto, Canada, Advocate, September 15, 2010

Los Angeles, Yahoo News, September 14, 2010

Medical News, September 14, 2010

Jerusalem, 365Gay.com, September 16, 2010

365Gay.com, September 15, 2010

British Columbia, Canada, BC Local News, September 15, 2010

Kentucky, OutSports, September 16, 2010

Geneva, Switzerland, Associated Press, September 15, 2010

Lady GaGa video to Senate: repeal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell"

Lady Gaga released a video message urging fans to contact their U.S. senators before Tuesday's cloture vote on the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" repeal.

Her message for her two senators:

"I'm a constituent of the senator and my name is... Lady GaGa. I am calling to ask the senator to vote with Senators Harry Reid and Carl Levin to repeal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" and oppose John McCain's shameless filibuster. We need to do this for our gay and lesbian soldiers and finally repeal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell."

Call the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121 and leave messages for Senator Murkowski and Senator Begich to repeal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell"!

If the voice mail is full, call Sen. Murkowski at 202-224-6665 and call Sen. Begich at 202-224-3004.

Lady GaGa's message:

Senate "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" vote on Tuesday - Call Today

The Senate is scheduled to vote on the DADT repeal on Tuesday. Please call the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121 and ask Sen. Murkowski and Sen. Begich to vote Yes on the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" repeal.

Rachel Maddow interviewed Vice President Joe Biden about the DADT repeal. The VP supports repeal and believes they will have the votes to overcome a senate filibuster. Then he explains why they have not halted the discharges while the process is underway.

Watch the Biden interview, then pick up the phone and call our senators!

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

The Community Survey: Who We Are

— by Mel Green, Crossposted from alaskacommunity.org.

In announcing the Alaska LGBT Community Survey — I call it AKQ for short — I frequently used the word "we." "We've decided…," "we'll use the survey…," "we aim…."

So just who are "we" — besides, of course, me?

In 1985-1986, "we" were the volunteers of Identity, Inc. which put together the survey instrument for One in Ten, administered it to LGB respondents throughout the state, tallied up the results, & wrote the report One in Ten: A Profile of Alaska's Lesbian & Gay Community (1986).

In 1987-1989, "we" were a lot of volunteers & a few people who got some pay (I think), who contacted & interviewed respondents who had experienced violence, harassment, discrimination because they were, or were perceived to be, lesbian or gay (yes, some of our respondents were heterosexual people who were misperceived at being homosexual), who surveyed Anchorage area landlords & employers, & who compiled the information gathered from those efforts & wrote them up in Identity Reports: Sexual Orientation Bias in Alaska (1989).

Right here & now, on September 13, 2010, "we" are three people who met last Thursday & decided to do this. Let me introduce us:

  • Melissa S. "Mel" Green. I was part of the "we" in both 1985-86 effort that resulted in One in Ten, of which I was principal writer; and in the 1987-1989 effort which resulted in Identity Reports, of which I was coauthor (along with Jay Brause). I'm also have my personal blog, Henkimaa.com, from whence I did a lot of blogging last year about the Anchorage equal rights ordinance AO-64, which passed the Anchorage Assembly only to be vetoed by Mayor Dan Sullivan. I'm also a 20-year staff member at the UAA Justice Center, where I've grown even more familiar with social science research, and developed relationships with some of the research faculty who we hope to have help from throughout our work on the current survey.
  • Shelby Carpenter is the LGBT Public Policy Director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Alaska… and I'll let her tell you more about herself as she has time. [Ed: Read Shelby's introduction.]
  • Barbara Soule is a longtime Alaska resident and LGBT community activist who is jumpstarting our outreach to the trans community. I'll let you her tell you more about herself as she has time, too.

By now, you might be asking, three people?!!! Just three people are going to conduct a high quality research project covering the LGBT population of the entire state of Alaska?!!!

Well, no. Because our very first step is to bring in more people. So right now the three of us are doing a lot of work behind-the-scenes to contact people to form our Community Survey Task Force. The Task Force's job will be defined more completely as its formed; but as I see it, it's functions will chiefly be to:

  1. Revise and update the One in Ten survey questionnaire to reflect changes in society that have taken place since 1985, the need for trans-inclusiveness, and new questions/issues that we'd like to address in the survey. (And perhaps additional smaller surveys.)
  2. Continue to conduct outreach to the LGBT and allied community in all areas of the state, both for complete coverage of our community in all its diversity, and in particular to solicit respondents who are willing to be interviewed about instances of discrimination, harassment, violence, or other forms of bias that they have experienced because they are, or were perceived to be, trans, bisexual, gay, or lesbian.
  3. Coordinate distribution and administration of the survey, data entry, and analysis and writing of the report(s) of our findings.

We hope to have our first meeting of the Community Survey Task Force in late September/early October. By the necessities of geography and the inability of most people to be more than one place at one time, it may be that our first meeting can consist of only those people who can easily travel to Southcentral Alaska for an Anchorage-based meeting. But we will be working on how to make sure we can fully involve both organizations and individuals in all parts of the state.

Another task that we're working on already is beginning our outreach to the trans community. We are committed to making AKQ — again, that's what I've taken to calling the Alaska LGBT Community Survey for short — fully trans-inclusive, not only in the kinds of questions that appear in the survey — but also in participating on the Task Force in questionnaire design, administration, and analysis. All three of us are involved in some aspect of this, with Barbara and I contacting people we know in the Alaska trans community & Shelby working with national-level trans organizations and activists who have conducted research within the trans community throughout the country.

Barbara is also coordinating focus groups for members of the trans community to get input on questionnaire design. We hope to hold the first of these at the Alaska Pride Conference 2010 sponsored by Identity, Inc. to be held October 9 in Anchorage and a second one probably about a week later, also in Anchorage, for those who cannot attend the Pride Conference. We'll also work on how we can involve transfolk in other areas of the state in our research effort.

As we continue to organize our effort, I hope soon to be able to introduce other people involved in this effort on this blog; better yet, to let them introduce themselves & add their voices to this blog, & to our overall effort to invigorate & strengthen our community statewide & advance our effort for full social and economic justice for LGBT in Alaska & nationally.

Stay tuned to our progress and news about how to get involved by subscribing to this blog, "liking" our Facebook page, and/or following our Twitter feed @alaskacommunity. You can also write to us at anchoragecommunity@gmail.com. You can also find all our contact info on our About page.

Former Elmendorf NCO escorts Lady GaGa to MTV awards to support DADT repeal

Lady Gaga won 8 MTV Video Music Awards on Sunday, and former Elmendorf AFB staff sergeant David Hall (far right in photo) escorted her to the show, along with three other service members who lost their military careers because of the ban against open service by gays and lesbians, a policy known as "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" (DADT).

Lady Gaga spoke in favor of repealing DADT when she accepted her award for Best Female Video for "Bad Romance" and thanked the four "discharged soldiers" who came with her, adding "And thank you to all the gays for remaking this video over and over again."

Her escorts were former U.S. Air Force Staff Sargent David Hall; former U.S. Air Force Major Mike Almy; top West Point cadet Katie Miller, who resigned in August in protest of DADT; and Former U.S. Army Sargent First Class Stacy Vasquez.

David Hall was a decorated Elmendorf NCO before starting officer training at the University of Alaska, Anchorage, and was a top student in the Air Force ROTC. He was dis-enrolled from the ROTC because a female cadet suspected he was having a relationship with Jack Glover, another UAA airman, and told their superior officer. Both men were kicked out because of the DADT policy.

A federal judged ruled DADT unconstitutional last week, but the government is expected to appeal the decision. The U.S. House already passed a repeal of DADT, and the Senate vote is scheduled for next week.

Call your Senators today at 202-224-3121 and urge them to repeal the policy!

Senotor Begich supports repeal, while Sen. Murkowski is undecided. But she voted for the Hate Crimes Act after hearing from Alaskan voters. She lost the GOP nomination and has not announced a write-in campaign, so she might be persuaded to vote for the Defense Budget and the DADT repeal.

In Feb. 2008, KTVA in Anchorage aired a special report on David Hall and "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" (one of the first videos ever posted on Bent Alaska.)

This week, Hall was interviewed by MTV about escorting Lady GaGa to the Video Music Awards:
"We met her before the show last week and told her our stories, and that's when she said she wanted to do more," said David Hall, 36, a former member of the Air Force who was booted out in August 2002 after a female cadet told his commander that he was gay and in a relationship. When confronted, Hall said he told his commanding officer he had no comment, but "he took her word for it over mine," and Hall, a five-year veteran, was discharged.

"We talked to [Gaga] for a bit and she said, 'It would be great if I could bring you to the VMAs,' " he said. A longtime Gaga fan, Hall was ecstatic about the idea, but said it seemed unlikely that they could pull it off on such short notice. But when you're Lady Gaga and you have 13 VMA nominations, it seems anything is possible.

"I just kept thinking, 'How can we get this together? Can we do it that fast?' " Hall said. "To my surprise, we were able to pull it off."

Hall and three of his cohorts — Katie Miller, Stacy Vasquez and Mike Almy — ended up walking the white carpet with Gaga and chatting with MTV's Sway before they took their seats right behind Gaga in the Nokia Theatre in some of the most primo spots in the house.

Hall has been working with the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN.org) since 2006, helping the advocacy organization push to have "Don't Ask" repealed. He said even with all the work he's been doing for the organization, having Gaga spread the word to her 6 million Twitter followers and millions of VMA viewers was a huge boost.

"I've done tons of media over the past four years ... but I knew she would reach out to her Little Monsters and tell them about the repeal of 'Don't Ask' on the white carpet and [it would have a huge impact]," he said. "You couldn't ask for a better person to do it. She's very genuine. It's not some ploy to get attention. She really wanted to know about the repeal and why we need to get rid of 'Don't Ask.' "

... Gaga's decision to use the VMA platform to publicize the attempt to push the repeal of "Don't Ask" through — a commitment President Obama made during his campaign and which he has repeatedly said is his goal — came at just the right time, according to Hall.

"The Senate is just coming back and we're hoping that they will pass something this month," he said, noting that Democratic control of Congress could possibly be weakened if Republican candidates score key victories in the November elections, which could set the repeal process back once again. "We were telling her that it is very important to speak out on this now," Hall said of SLDN's message to Gaga, who paid for the service members to fly out to Los Angeles for the VMAs.

In addition to their swank seats and walk down the carpet, Hall said the organization members met with Gaga as she was prepping for the show earlier in the day Sunday to go over talking points. They also were invited to attend the post-VMA party put on by Gaga's Interscope Records label, where they chatted with Mother Monster and her actual mother, Cynthia Germanotta.

Hall's highlight? "She gave us a shout-out during the acceptance for her first award," he said. "And the interview with Sway on the white carpet ... But every time Lady Gaga won, it was great. And when she won Video of the Year, I loved her meat outfit."
Video: Lady Gaga Introduces Special Guests On VMA White Carpet

David Hall is currently the Development Director & Information Technology Manager of SLDN.

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