Volume 2, Issue 2 - Summer 2008

IN THIS ISSUE:

  • AIR FORCE ACADEMY VISIT
  • MILITARY HAS RECRUITED MORE SERIOUSEX-OFFENDERS THAN PREVIOUSLY KNOWN
  • WORLD PREMIER OF "ASK NOT" DOCUMENTARY
  • PACKED HOUSE AT BÉRUBÉ MEMORIAL TRIBUTE
  • MAJOR BOOK ABOUT DADT TO BE RELEASED IN 2009
  • DEVELOPMENT NEWS

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AIR FORCE ACADEMY VISIT
Center Director Aaron Belkin visited the U.S. Air Force Academy at Colorado Springs and the U.S. Military Academy at West Point April 3-7. At both institutions he met with faculty and taught classes. At the Air Force Academy, Belkin delivered a lecture to more than 300 Cadets. He argued that even if homosexuality is viewed as immoral, discrimination against gay, lesbian, and bisexual service members still undermines the military's sense of honor and fairness. Bruce Brothers of the Gill Foundation attended the lecture with his partner.


MILITARY HAS RECRUITED MORE SERIOUS EX-OFFENDERS THAN PREVIOUSLY KNOWN
New information released in April by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee shows that in 2006 and 2007 Americans who were convicted of serious crimes including sexual offenses, manslaughter, "terrorist threats including bomb threats", burglary, kidnapping or abduction, aggravated assault, and sexual assault were allowed into the military under the moral waivers program.

All of the data, broken down by offense and by service is available online at www.palmcenter.ucsb.edu. The Palm Center brought the issue of moral waivers to national attention when it released figures in 2007 showing that the number of convicted felons who were enlisted service-wide in the armed forces under the moral waivers program nearly doubled in three years.

Palm Center Director Aaron Belkin said the use of moral waivers is longstanding practice in the armed forces and that those who are released from jails and prisons have paid their dues. "Everyone deserves a second chance," he said, "but the new data show that the same vulnerable populations that are getting channeled into the prison-industrial complex are also high on the list for military recruiters. This also begs the question," he added, "of whether it makes sense for the military to fire perfectly competent gay and lesbian troops while manpower shortages remain so serious."

WORLD PREMIER OF "ASK NOT" DOCUMENTARY
A new documentary about the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy on gay troops premiered at the San Francisco International Film Festival in the Castro Theater on April 26, 2008. The film, "Ask Not," was directed and produced by Emmy-nominated, Berkeley-based filmmaker, Johnny Symons, and will be broadcast on the prestigious PBS weekly independent film series, "Independent Lens" during the 2008-09 season. Palm Center staff served as advisers on the film for more than three years and provided funds to support distribution. Palm Center researchers are among those interviewed in the film.

Because of the continued ban, one of the film's main characters had to be portrayed with his face in partial shadow. Palm Center Research Director Jeanne Scheper said the obscured face of the gay soldier points to a larger issue about the nature of political discussion over gay service. "'Don't ask, don't tell' is unique in that it bars the people who are targeted for discrimination from speaking up to defend themselves," she said. "Symons' film does a great service in this respect because it illuminates the stories of those whose voices are, by law, silenced, and thereby elevates the political discourse that the policy tries to eviscerate." For more information, visit http://www.asknotfilm.com.

PACKED HOUSE AT BÉRUBÉ MEMORIAL TRIBUTE
On Thursday, May 1, the Palm Center co-sponsored a memorial tribute to Allan Bérubé with the Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies at the City University of New York. The event, which was held at CUNY's Graduate Center, included presentations by historian Jonathan Ned Katz and Thomas Glave, professor of English at SUNY Binghamton. Katz, a close friend of Bérubé's for three decades, used personal stories to illustrate important aspects of Bérubé's activism and scholarship, while Glave explained how and why Bérubé inspired trust. Palm Center Director Aaron Belkin addressed the tensions implicated in Bérubé's simultaneous commitment to anti-militarism and work on behalf of gays and lesbians in the military. The event was well attended; some members of the overflow crowd had to sit on the floor.


MAJOR BOOK ABOUT DADT TO BE RELEASED IN 2009
Palm Center Senior Research Fellow, Nathaniel Frank, will publish an account of how the gay ban undermines the military with St. Martin's Press in early 2009. This book builds on arguments Frank has made in the New York Times, Washington Post, The New Republic and on national television and radio appearances and portrays the rich, varied and dramatic stories of America's gay troops, including those on the frontlines of the wars in the Middle East.

Drawing on hundreds of exclusive interviews, the book presents the latest research and over a decade of evidence on gay service showing that gays can and do serve openly in the U.S. military without incident, and that the policy itself is weakening the military it was supposed to protect.

Poised to become the definitive story of "don't ask, don't tell," the book is a lively and compelling narrative that is sure to provoke any American who cares about national security, the right to speak the truth, or fairness.

DEVELOPMENT NEWS
The Palm Center is honored to have received the following gifts: $67,000 from an anonymous donor; $15,000 from Henry van Ameringen; $5,000 from an anonymous donor; $2,800 from Paul Alan Boskind; $500 from the Ian Gibson-Smith and the Ian Thom Foundation in memory of Thomas G. (Major) Martin; $500 from Jeff Lewy; $125 from Sharon Furiya with an additional $375 from the MacArthur Foundation matching fund; and $150 from Donn Murphy.