Transgender Military Policy

The recent action taken by Trump to ban transgender people from the United States Military harkens of President Eisenhower’s infamous Executive Order 10450, issued in 1953, banning non-heterosexuals from serving in the United States government and labeling them “perverts.”  Is this the next step?  A role back of the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” or will he go even further?”  Perhaps even more disrespectful than the action itself was the fact that Trump issued this order via Twitter without so much as one bit of consideration for the dedicated citizens under “his command.”

Executive Order 10450 was based in fear created largely by Senator Joe McCarthy who, after not being able to find enough communist in the government, had to find another source to fear.  This presidential order lead to a witch-hunt that spread far beyond the federal government and it stigmatized the entire gay community.  We are far beyond that today, but Trump seeks to create the same kind of witch-hunt in order to appease conservatives who refuse to become educated and informed about gender identity issues.  But no matter the reason for the fear, the action taken by Trump is aggressively discriminatory.  UCLA’s William’s Institute estimates there are already 15,500 transgender people in the military.  This order doesn’t just prevent further recruitment, it puts in jeopardy the livelihood and rights of existing members.

We condemn this action and see it as directly and overtly hostile to the rights of U.S. citizens who happen to be transgender.  It’s a step toward threatening non-heterosexual identities and it must be stopped.  We fully support OutServe’s position and intent to fight this order using the United States Constitution and the 14th Amendment to suppress this discriminatory action.

Matthew F. Thorn, Executive Director of OutServe-SLDN, released the following statement:

“The President’s order to remove transgender service members from the United States armed forces is nothing less than a purge. He is implementing this purge based on bigotry, motivated by agents of an ideology that has no concern for the national defense, and in blatant disregard of the experience of career officers who spent more than a year developing and implementing the current policy.

It is inconceivable that a man with a demonstrated incompetence in managing the small staff of the White House should have any credibility when it comes to making sound personnel decisions that will effect a fighting force of more than 1.8 million men and women.

We recognize this purge for what it is – a discriminatory attack on the people who have volunteered their lives for the defense of the country. It is arbitrary and capricious, a callous and questionable exercise of constitutional authority which is beneath the dignity of a Commander-in-Chief.

We condemn the actions of the White House in initiating this purge. We condemn the disregard that the President has shown to transgender men and women who wear the uniform. We condemn the intent of any person who would make it the mission of United States military to discriminate against the very citizens they are charged to defend. And we condemn the indifference of any elected official who does not now stand up for both military personnel and the LGBT community by opposing this purge.

OutServe-SLDN with our partner Lambda Legal will be immediately filing a lawsuit in federal court to challenge this action.

To all of the police chiefs and sheriffs who have already taken a stand and made a public statement to their officers and the community welcoming and supporting transgender members of law enforcement – thank you.  Your words and support are critical and appreciated.

We encourage every chief of police and sheriff to speak out and communicate to the rank and file and to their respective communities that the discriminatory actions of a President do not represent the opinions and actions of your department and local community.

 

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Book Club Reviews COFBTB

The AAUW-OML book club in my home town recently reviewed the newest edition of “Coming Out From Behind The Badge.”  We couldn’t be more happy!

“This book includes valuable documentation of the key events and evolution of the gay rights movement and courageous personal stories. I was very moved by Greg’s journey and the anecdotal accounts of other officers–male and female-who risked their lives and their careers every day, who found their way to come out. Both the original publication, written a decade ago, and the updated 2nd edition reflecting the dramatic changes in gay rights, support a charitable foundation that helps LGBT law enforcement professionals in their career struggles.”

To read the full article, click here: omlcabookreview

Posted in Announcements

Remaining United as a Community and a Movement

I’m troubled by fractures I’m witnessing in the LGBT community where groups are pitting one against the other to the extent we are excluding groups from participating in events like pride.  In the last six months, I’ve seen examples of LGBT law enforcement officers specifically targeted and deliberately excluded from participating in LGBT community events because another LGBT group claims discomfort or dissatisfaction with law enforcement – not the individual officers being excluded, just generally with law enforcement.  And I’m hearing more threats from anarchist-type extremist groups who wish to disrupt pride parades this year if law enforcement participates in the event.  That’s right, these groups don’t even want other lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people, who happen to be law enforcement officers, marching because they somehow pose a threat.

The very reason we have pride celebrations today is to mark the occasion of several notable conflicts between police and the LGBT community.  Some of these conflicts, such as the Compton Cafeteria riots and Stonewall riots were exceptionally violent, but they caused a shift to happen.  The created change that today includes LGBT people serving in the rank and file in law enforcement.  Straight allies in law enforcement work to support the community and have, for more than a decade, marched together with the community in pride parades across the country.  In those early years, we were screaming for acceptance, support, and respectful treatment by police.  We worked to build a relationship and the police worked with our community.  It’s unacceptable that a small minority voice who has a beef with police would be able to exclude members of the LGBT community from participating in our community event.

Look, these are challenging times.  There are wide ranging opinions and beliefs about law enforcement, but exclusion is not the answer to fixing these problems or to building community.  I’ve said many times that you can’t have it both ways – wanting a relationship and trust, but not wanting participation by police in community events – especially when those participating are also members of the community.  Aside from the obvious hypocrisy, it’s not in our interest as a community to fragment.  We need EVERYONE, including allies, to be with us in our fight for equality and to stand against the challenges we face to our civil rights.  The very last thing we need to have happen in our community is to break apart, to lesson our numbers, or to become any less visible than we have been.  In fact, the opposite needs to happen.  We need to become more united, more visible, and recruit additional allies.

To those who reject corporate sponsorship and participation in pride celebration, I say don’t be a fool.  The money sponsors bring to the event pays for the permits, venues, and our ability to be seen and to share our message with the world.  The visibility corporate contingents bring to a parade shows the strength and commitment of our allies.  This is what we were craving in the early years and what we desperately need to continue our fight.  We cannot do it alone and any extremist group that thinks we don’t need the involvement of large organizations and corporate funding is naive.  Every gain we’ve realized over the last 8 years has happened in part because of strong support from allies and corporate America.  United with our allies we must remain.

The anarchists and extremists who advocate exclusion and disruption of pride events are working against the movement and our community.  They seek to harm, not help.  In fact, I question the motivation of these groups and suspect they create disruption for the sake of doing it and for whatever personal gain and satisfaction it might bring to the individuals involved.  I doubt it reflects at all their commitment to the movement as a whole.  Disrupting or stopping a pride parade is not an effective way to address grievances with law enforcement.  It will only alienate our own community and those who stand with us.

I call upon all LGBT organizations, large and small, to stand together and to reject the efforts of any group to exclude law enforcement or other LGBT people from participating in community events like pride.  LGBT organizations needs to take a stand and condemn obstructionist behaviors.  We must reject fragmentation and we must stay focused on achieving our goals for civil rights and equality.

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A Tribute To Gilbert Baker

I was a walking through the Castro yesterday with my good friend Matt.  I passed by a storefront window and saw this picture being placed there.

I immediately went to my phone to search the news and saw the headlines.  Gilbert Baker, the creator of the rainbow flag, passed away in his sleep at his home in New York.  He was 65 years old.

I met Gilbert in person in February 2017  during the screening of “When We Rise” at the Castro theater.  We were standing in line to get in and there he was walking down the street saying hello to everyone.  I remember his big smile and how happy he looked.  I’m grateful to have had the chance to give him a hug and to thank him for all the work he did during his life that’s made my life today so much easier.

When I started the LGBT studies program at Napa Valley College, I reached out to Gilbert online and ordered one of his hand painted rainbow flags.  I thought it would be something special to share with my students.

When it arrived, I’m knew right away that it was too small to share in a classroom, so I reached out to Gilbert again and asked him to sign a full-sized flag for me and he enthusiastically agreed to do it.  When I share the flag, its history, and its meaning with my students, seeing that it was signed by Gilbert makes the moment for them all that much more real and special.

Gilbert did hundreds of interviews over the years telling the story of the flag and its meaning.  Here are two I think are especially good to share.

In 2012, Gilbert’s friend and fellow activist, Cleve Jones, sat down with him at the GLBT Museum in San Francisco to talk about the flag.

The rainbow flag is a powerful symbol of pride, visibility, and identity.  It signals a welcoming and safe place.  It’s become such a powerful symbol that in some countries, like Russia, merely displaying it can land you in jail.

For me, Gilbert Baker and the rainbow flag are inspiration for the work I do.  I only hope that I can give as much to making life better for others as Gilbert Baker and his work did for me.

This page is dedicated to Gilbert Baker and all the meaning he gave to his rainbow flag.  Thank you Gilbert for this amazing gift to our world.

 

 

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Press Release: Breckenridge Police Lead The Way

Santa Rosa, CA. March 8, 2017.  The Board of Directors of Out To Protect congratulate Chief Dennis McLaughlin and the members of the Breckenridge, Colorado Police Department for leading the nation and being the first police department to complete the new LGBT Awareness For Law Enforcement course launched just this month by Out To Protect.

Breckenridge Police

Breckenridge Police Sergeant Bryan Ridge said that all 26 members of the department, including the chief, assistant chief, patrol officers, and community service officers are participating in the LGBT Awareness For Law Enforcement course. Everyone who successfully completes the course is receiving a  training certificate from Out To Protect.

Sergeant Ridge said,

“The training has been really beneficial for our officers. We have included it into our anti-bias training program.”

Out to Protect founder and CEO, Greg Miraglia, who created the course, said, “I commend the members of the Breckenridge Police Department for participating in this training program.  It’s great to see a department so committed to community policing and increasing the cultural competence of its personnel.”

The LGBT Awareness For Law Enforcement course was created to provide law enforcement professionals at every level of government with the basic knowledge and understanding necessary to more effectively serve members of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community as well as to support LGBT law enforcement professionals.  The course is available to all law enforcement professionals and students free of charge.

Click Here To Learn More.

Out To Protect is a national non-profit organization with the a mission of creating a greater awareness of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender professionals working in law enforcement and to support those pursuing a law enforcement career.  We provide scholarships, training grants, and educational programs.

For information about this release:
Greg Miraglia, 707-728-5428
www.outtoprotect.org
www.comingoutfrombehindthebadge.com

 

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