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To Gay USMC Smith: Your Billboard is Safe Here

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“It’s a distasteful matter that has no business being on a billboard!” That’s what many religious fanatics will argue and for once I agree. If a U.S. Marine plastered “I love having oral sex with my wife and I protected your freedom!” I could understand the outrage and the motive of some to have it torn down, but the fact of the matter is that that same Marine being good in bed with his wife won’t get him discharged from patriotically serving his country. Nor would other factors such as being left-handed (once considered evil), a woman, or black bear the same results. Other things considered by some to be undesirable and a choice won’t get you discharged either, like being Jewish, being an illegal immigrant who wants to serve his new homeland and earn his citizenship, or not having voted for George Bush in the 2000/2004 elections.

Just being gay however will.

Though it hasn’t been that way for a long time, you used to not be able to serve your country if you were “a negro,” and even when you could, you were segregated from your fellow white soldiers. Oh, you could defend them, give your life to save them, but you wouldn’t be allowed to eat or sleep anywhere near them. This is one of the reasons the actions of the heroic and much-decorated Tuskegee Airmen who saved hundreds of lives took so long to become general knowledge. Some didn’t want it known those Negroes could be as brave as (if not braver than) their fellow white soldiers.

Thankfully that’s changed, but when it did there was as much of an uproar over military desegregation as there is over the “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy today.

The Memphis Gay and Lesbian Community Center, in preparation for National Coming Out Day on October 11th, put up a series of billboards in Memphis, Tennessee. On one of them was the image of ex-USMC Tim Smith (27) in full dress uniform emblazoned with the words “I’m gay and I protected your freedom.” Smith, currently a student, served his country from 2001-2005. The mere fact that Smith was brave enough to serve his country goes to the heart of his patriotism. The fact that he was brave enough to allow his image to be displayed so prominently and publicly, putting himself in harm’s way (prejudice, hate and publicity) goes to the heart of his courage.

The fact that the billboard, located at the bustling corner of Poplar and High Streets, was defaced and torn down by locals speaks volumes, especially since it was on a busy downtown street and within blocks of the local police station. Instead of giving up, Smith (a University of Memphis student) proved his heart and commitment to the cause by stating, “As soon as the materials and prints come in, that billboard will go back up.” Memphis police are currently investigating the incident as vandalism and theft of property.

For those who claim that in these times displays such as these aren’t necessary and you shouldn’t have to put up with a bunch of drama queens trying to get attention, I would point out that as you read this there are thousands of gay translators and intelligence officers providing a valuable service to our country in the Middle East who are being unnecessarily yanked out of their positions for no other reason than their sexual orientation. There are right at this very moment closeted gay soldiers defending your sons and daughters’ lives with rifles, tanks, aircraft and courage, in danger of being dishonored and discharged if someone “found out.”

I will do my part to honor them, and USMC Tim Smith, by putting up that formerly battered billboard in a place where no one can deface it or tear it down… right here. Smith was drummed out of the military after a self-righteous minister decided it was his pastoral duty to press the point that the soldier wasn’t moral enough to serve his country and pushed the issue with the Marines until the four-year veteran was discharged.

There are those who claim that gays only number maybe one or two out of a hundred because you don’t see that many painted-up and sequined fairy queens around town. The truth of the matter is that we’re closer to one in ten and that your next-door neighbor, best friend, and/or local butcher, baker, and candlestick maker are gay, but you wouldn’t know it by looking at them, so they remain invisible and uncounted.

On October 11th, I urge all of America’s closeted gays to come out to just one friend, family member or co-worker. Now, I’m sure a lot of you straight folks will smirk and come up with the snappy retort, “How much courage could that take in these times?” I’ll answer, could you summon the courage to tell your best friend that you are gay – even if you aren’t? If it just doesn’t matter in these modern and enlightened times and I’m blowing this up all out of proportion, then you should get the same look in response from them as you would if you suddenly announced that you were left-handed… Right?

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About Jet Gardner

I like collecting books, music, movies, chess sets and friends
  • Annette

    I like reading posts from a couple of years ago where people say Obama is just making empty campaign promises…makes me giddy to know DADT is gone.

  • Clinton’s plan was to protect gays from being discharged because they were gay as long as they didn’t say anything to anyone they were fine.

    It was Bush and his born-again assholes that twisted it and perverted it into a witch hunt using every techicality they could think of, including reading private diarys, using heresay, and even lowering themselves to discharging women for attending the Dinah Shore women’s golf tournament.

  • Brave words, Jet, don’t forget, though, it’s Obama in his “campaign mode.”

    No question the president means it, but does he mean it any more than Clinton had or any of us? Is this reason enough to give him undivided fealty?

  • (AP) President Barack Obama sharply rebuked his Republican rivals Saturday, saying anyone who wants to be commander in chief must support the entire U.S. military, including gay service members.

    A combative Obama criticized Republican presidential candidates for staying silent when the crowd at a recent debate booed a gay soldier who asked a question of the contenders via videotape.

    “You want to be commander in chief? You can start by standing up for the men and women who wear the uniform of the United States, even when it’s not politically convenient,” Obama said during remarks at the annual dinner of the Human Rights Council, the nation’s largest gay rights organization.

    Referencing the boos at the Sept. 22 Republican debate, he said: “We don’t believe in standing silent when that happens.”

    Obama touted his administration’s efforts to repeal the military’s ban on openly gay service members, as well as his orders to the Justice Department to stop enforcing a law defining marriage as between one man and one woman.

  • Glenn can you imagine that 911 might not have happened if over 200 arabic translators hadn’t been dismissed from the military for being gay by the Bush Administrtion’s witch hunt 6 months before it happened-leaving a backlog of thousands of untranslated intercepts?

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Jet –

    I’m really happy to see DADT go away. I remember a co-worker of mine who was seen kissing her girlfriend in a car on base. The wife of some retired officer saw them and reported her, and she got kicked out regardless of how professional she was at her job. And at Captain’s Mast, the rules of evidence do not apply – so the fact that it was only the officer’s wife’s word against her own did not matter.

    She was quite vocal on board ship that she was certainly not a lesbian…but we all knew better – and we did not care. We only cared that she was good at her job. I just hope that wherever she is, she can take some comfort in the fact that this idiocy is now past us, at least as far as the military is concerned.

  • WASHINGTON, Sept. 30 (UPI) Ten days after the U.S. military repealed “don’t ask, don’t tell”, the Pentagon issued a new rule allowing military chaplains to perform same-sex weddings.

    The new act says chaplains can only preside over gay and lesbian weddings if state and local laws allow, CNN reported.

    “A military chaplain may participate in or officiate any private ceremony, whether on or off a military installation, provided that the ceremony is not prohibited by applicable state and local law,” a memo from Undersecretary of Defense Clifford Stanley, released Friday, says.

    The memo goes on to say chaplains are not required to officiate a marriage if it conflicts with their religious beliefs.

  • Navy Adm. Mike Mullen said that with the new law allowing gays to serve openly, the military is a stronger, more tolerant force with greater character and honor.

    “I still believe that it was first and foremost a matter of integrity, that it was fundamentally against everything we stand for as an institution to force people to lie about who they are just to wear a uniform,” Mullen said. “We are better than that.”

    Some in Congress still oppose the change, arguing that it may undermine order and discipline, but top Pentagon leaders have certified that it will not hurt the military’s ability to recruit or to fight wars.

    Obama issued a statement saying he is confident that lifting the ban will enhance U.S. national security, that henceforth “our armed forces will no longer lose the extraordinary skills and combat experience of so many gay and lesbian service members.”

    Later Tuesday, at a New York City Democratic fundraiser, the president said he had met backstage with some young Americans who had been discharged from the military because of the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy.

    “As of today, that will never happen again,” Obama said. “As of today, no one needs to hide who they are to serve the country that they love.”

  • I think the billboard in the article pretty much says it all

  • Igor as long as they can make tax-free money by the bail full-that’ll never happen

  • Igor

    And god fails the fundamentalists once again!

    You´d think they´d give up after awhile.

  • I wonder what explanation Pat Robertson has for no D.C. earthquakes today with the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell?

  • unkl td

    ok. do i really have to do this you f$%^ing tards. look you backwoods hills people, i live in memphis. look at the F*&$ing board. do you realize how tall that is? its a f*%%ing biiboard. no person in their right mind would ever attempt to climb that. furthermore, its destroyed from top to bottom totally. Duh!!!! only trained sign company personel could do this. hmmm…..like maybe ordered by the gay organization making all the accusations. its a damn scam and a hoax! get real. i cant believe you tards cant figure this shit out without me holding your hand. damn, come on! they fucking planed this. and defaced it themselves. or….maybe its the evil agenda of the mean old sign companies to get those gays. ITS A Fucking HOAX.

  • …Standing at a podium in the sanctuary, Smith described the oxymoron of being a gay Christian and his struggle to find his voice.

    “I knew that when God looked at me as a gay man, he loved me for who I am,” said Smith, who is now a student at the University of Memphis. “When God made me, he didn’t say, ‘Oops.'”

    Hoisting colorful signs that read “Don’t Ask, Don’t Progress” and “Straight Against Hate,” the crowd cheered.

    Smith assured those gathered that their enemies are ignorance and misunderstanding, not the people who vandalized the billboard.

    The billboard has since been restored at the corner of Poplar Avenue and High Street.

    “We need more people like Tim who are willing to fight for the rights of people who want to tear his rights down,” said Jennifer Warren of Bartlett who is also featured in the billboard series.

    Warren, who is straight, joked about “coming out” to her conservative family that she would be featured on a billboard as a supporter of the gay community.

    “One of the reasons for putting those billboards up is to let the Mid-South know we are here,” said Will Batts, executive director of the Memphis Gay and Lesbian Community Center. “I think we accomplished that.”

    The “homosexual agenda,” Batts said, is to be treated with respect, dignity and tolerance.

    “Nothing less is acceptable,” he said…

    From Memphis Commercial Appeal

  • (AP) – 22 hours ago
    WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama will focus “at the right time” on how to overturn the “don’t ask, don’t tell” ban on gays serving openly in the military, his national security adviser said Sunday.

    “I don’t think it’s going to be — it’s not years, but I think it will be teed up appropriately,” James Jones said.

    The Democratic-led Congress is considering repealing the 1993 law. Action isn’t expected on the issue until early next year.

    Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., recently wrote Obama and Defense Secretary Robert Gates asked to share their views and recommendations on the contentious policy. In Sept. 24 letters, Reid also asked for a review of the cases of two U.S. officers who were discharged from the military because of their sexuality.

    “At a time when we are fighting two wars, I do not believe we can afford to discharge any qualified individual who is willing to serve our country,” Reid wrote…..

    …..Last year, 634 members of the military were discharged for being gay, or .045 percent of the active-duty U.S. force, according to an Aug. 14 congressional report.

  • Cannonshop

    #9- I found that the sailor who committed suicide when charged with failing to stop the abuse to be rather heartening-not as good as someone who would have actually acted to stop it, mind…

    But the discharge of PO3 Rocha really SHOULD underscore to the activist community the need to get that UCMJ revised. Seriously.

    Unfortunately, you’re not going to see the tactics that would work for that implemented-unlike the very effective efforts of the Gun Lobby, the party in power can continue to snub the interests of the gay-rights lobby with impunity, because whether or not those interests EVER get served, the Gay Rights Community will continue to vote Democrat, work in Democrat campaigns, and provide financial and logistical support to Democrat policy-makers in exchange for empty rhetoric instead of solid action.

    Politicians respond only to two stimuli:

    1. Offers of support they did not already have ‘in the bag’

    2. Threats of losing support they rely on extensively-that’s SERIOUS threats. Look at how much influence the religious whackjobs have over the Republicans, for instance, or the Environmentalist lobby…or the Gun Lobby. NRA/ILA have demonstrated willingness to suspend support, or even actively campaign against, politicians who snub their issues.

    If you’re an auto-vote, or a politician thinks you’re an auto-vote, you’re effectively nobody. Progress is only possible on harsh issues if you’re willing and able to use both carrot, AND stick.

  • I would just make a printout of the old records and start from scratch. But if the XP can run it, you’re OK, I guess.

  • Back when I was rich and semi-famous I bought a BC that came loaded with the windows version of it and all my early financial records are in that format, which isn’t compatible or convertible to the modern ones. The absolute latest copy of it that I found on line was for Win95 before they stopped making it.

    I had to either stick with it or lose those records. Converting by hand cell-by-cell would take too long and not be worth the time, but I still needed to be able to refer back, so I’m stuck with what I knew, and believe it or not Windows XP runs it on the compatibility wizard.

  • Shoot. No wonder you’re having a hard time. It’s Apple software, if I’m not mistaken. Was my last type of Macwrite program before I tired of all the conversions and switched to Word.

  • would you believe an antique copy of Clarisworks?

  • #7,

    You’re wrong about that quote. It was something to the effect that Jack was bored. Don’t remember exactly.

  • Actually, your responses are more prompt than most.

    Sounds like an interesting project – in Exel?

    One can get really bogged downed with that software and all the formulas. I’ve done once the regression- and stock-market analysis with it – the daily fluctuation of prices.


  • Roger, as for my participation, I’ve been working on and tweaking the creation of my 2010 financial spreadsheet to fit my 24″ monitor now that I have lots of room for stuff. With all of its cell formulas I’ve been tied up for about the last week or so. I’ve set my e-mail in a little square in one corner of my screen and don’t respond to comments unless and when I get a report.

    This is why I’m not on other’s pages on a regular basis and sometimes take a while to respond to my own articles…

  • Good sport. Thanks.

  • moi?

  • Hello, Jet.

    I hope you’re not mad at me for my comment about gay pride. I was espousing a more inclusive concept.

  • Speaking of the Navy, Cannonship we have this…

    By Leo Shane III, Stars and Stripes
    Mideast edition, Sunday, September 20, 2009

    WASHINGTON — Two years after naval investigators uncovered a hazing scandal inside a Bahrain-based canine unit, including numerous cases of violent attacks and sex crimes, officials can’t say whether anyone was ever disciplined or demoted.

    Naval investigators have confirmed 93 instances of hazing within the Bahrain Military Working Dogs Division. One sailor, who several times was forced to simulate oral sex on other men, was later kicked out of the Navy for being gay. Another committed suicide after being charged with failing to stop the abuse.

    But naval officials say that as far as they are concerned, the case is closed, an embarrassing one-time(???) problem that is now completely in the past.

    “This case does not reflect who we are as a Navy,” said Capt. William Fenick, spokesman for the Navy’s installations command headquarters. “We believe it was an isolated incident.”

    But for former Petty Officer 3rd Class Joseph Christopher Rocha, the Navy’s reluctance to dispense justice — especially to the sailor he says led the abuse — means the closed case remains an open wound.

    Shortly after the investigation, he admitted to commanders that he is gay.

    “The Navy has failed to get a single charge to stick to [the ringleader, but I got kicked out,” he said. “I couldn’t lie anymore about who I was.”

    More than a dozen sailors from the unit were implicated in an investigator’s report that detailed attempted rapes, frequent visits by prostitutes, beatings of younger sailors and other illegal activities between 2004 and 2006. Fenick told Stars and Stripes that by the time the investigator’s report was issued, most of the offenders had moved on to other assignments.

    New commanders of any sailors involved were made aware of the report, and had the authority to issue demotions or further punishment as a result of the crimes. But Fenick said the Navy did not track whether any were punished, and it will not release personnel records that might show whether anyone was held accountable.

    Naval officials would not say whether any charges were brought against the offenders. But Rocha said he knows of two who were charged: the alleged ringleader and Petty Officer 1st Class Jennifer Valdivia, who was the unit’s second in command.

    Rocha said he was scheduled to testify against the alleged ringleader in late 2007 when charges were dropped without explanation. Valdivia committed suicide in January 2007, days after being accused of silently allowing the behavior to continue.

    Rocha called that another injustice.

    The commander and ringleader of the abuse?
    He was promoted shortly after.

  • Cannonshop

    Um…jet, small point on your history for a moment…

    Crispus Attucks

    10th Cavalry
    9th Cavalry.
    Buffalo Soldiers.
    5th Massachusetts.

    Black soldiers have served in most of our wars (and all of them since 1863), there were Black Sailors going WAAAAYYYY back in the U.S. Navy.

    they didn’t INTEGRATE the army until 1948, but the Navy was a long time prior, and Black units served with distinction from the Civil war through the Indian Wars, into the Spanish American war, WW1, and of course, WW2, with integrated units in every conflict thereafter.

    The problem for Gay soldiers, Marines, and Airmen (and sailors) is uglier than “don’t ask/don’t tell”, it’s the UCMJ (something that can, could, and should be amended by Congress) defining “Sodomy” as any sexual act that is not missionary copulation with your heterosexual spouse. Sodomy carries a five year term in Leavenworth under UCMJ.

    Strictly speaking, “Being” gay isn’t against the rules in the service-having gay sex is. Soldiers can NOT be expected to live a monastic lifestyle, and a lot of non-gay soldiers are perilously close to the same kind of discharge (used because tossing guys into the slam for getting a blow-job is..well, bloody irrational, an Administrative Discharge prevents a Dishonourable Discharge coupled with five years in leavenworth or an equal federal hell-hole.)

    The fix isn’t Army Policy, or USMC policy, or Dept. of the Navy policy-it has to go through CONGRESS.

    Considering the congress we presently have, you and your friends should be working the halls…(though you might’ve had a better chance before Craig got booted for soliciting a blow-job,eh?)

    to get a revision of the UCMJ (which is a LAW, written, voted by, and amendable by Congress) changed.

    All the protests in the world won’t do that, all the sympathy on the Blogosphere won’t do that. Lobbying your fellow-travellers in Congress and making certain they understand they won’t be in office next term without you will do that.

  • I think he was in a snowed-in mountain hotel trying to write a nevel.

    The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog

  • Anyway, we’re having a heated Polanski debate. He certainly could have used some supervision back then.

    And where was Jack Nicholson, for Christ’s sake?

  • I love that – they need more supervision.

  • “The Bible contains six admonishments to homosexuals and 362 admonishments to heterosexuals. That doesn’t mean that God
    doesn’t love heterosexuals…

    …It’s just that they need more supervision.”
    Lynn Lavner

  • Thanks Roger. The link next to the billboard is a local Memphis TV news report

  • Good show, Jet. Nice article.

  • “I love having oral sex with my wife and I protected your freedom!”