Burroughs Adding Machine

Social justice, arts and politics, life in New York City

Obama Backs DADT Repeal

The latest: the Obama administration will support the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell repeal put forward by Congress  this week. It’s a compromise between gay rights groups’ wish for immediate repeal and the Pentagon’s study-in-progress. The Pentagon’s study is due December 1.

If the vote happens in Congress, and the President signs it, the move will be one step forward for Obama’s stagnant record in gay rights. Public pressure must be credited to Lt. Dan Choi and the Servicemember’s Legal Defense Network for recent acts of civil disobedience as well as the protest art that’s cropped up.

Let’s hope this happens. The bad, 17 year-old law has led to more than 13,500 discharges. You can add your name to the list of supporters here.

Filed under: gay rights, military, , , , , , , , ,

Employment Equality Sit-ins in SF and NY

What’s that cliche about the squeaky wheel? And the other cliche about “When it rains…”?

In addition to Dan Choi’s act of civil disobedience, GetEqual activists staged sit-ins at Speaker Pelosi’s offices in San Francisco and New York in support of ENDA. Seems like today was a flurry of GLBTQ activist activity.

Good for these defiant, vocal minorities, and the voice they’re providing for GLBTQ equality through the Employment Non-discrimination Act. ENDA itself has been stalled in the legislative process and deserves to be brought to a vote. Full equality and non-discrimination for all GLBTQ citizens must be guaranteed by law.

Filed under: gay rights, work, , , , , , , , , ,

Like Kanye, But for a Cause

While I was teaching about gender stereotypes of Asian American women (check out Jessica Hagedorn’s excellent essay about the lotus blossom and tragic, weeping woman-stereotypes in The Joy Luck Club), Lt. Dan Choi was taking this warm afternoon to handcuff himself to the White House.

During a rally to protest Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, organized by the Human Rights Campaign and featuring funny lady Kathy Griffiin, Choi took the stage to call for immediate repeal of DADT. Kanye may have done the same thing at the Grammys to perky Taylor Swift, but this afternoon it was Choi taking the mic to call for gay rights.

Choi, of course, has been a longtime spokesperson for the rights of gay soldiers. It was surprising to hear recently that Choi was not officially discharged from the Army; his paperwork was still weaving its way through the bureaucracy. Technically, he’s still a servicemember of the U.S. armed forces, and a gay one at that. We’re lucky the whole institution hasn’t imploded, as predicted by naysayers (flip-floppers?) like John McCain.

Apparently, White House spokesman Gibbs was hosting a press conference in the Rose Garden at the same time; when asked by a reporter about the civil disobedience, Gibbs knew nothing of the incident. Here’s a video of Rick Sanchez reporting on CNN:

Filed under: gay rights, military, , , , , , , ,

Obama’s Report Card on Gay Issues: C+

President Obama fired his first gay military officer today. Navy Lt. Dan Choi was fired under the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy because he is gay. His appearance on national television, as a spokesperson for Knights Out, a group of 38 GLBT military women and men,  violates the antiquated and discriminatory “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy. Aaron Belkin of The Huffington Post argues that, if he chose, President Obama could issue an executive order that would effectively end the policy.

As most of us know, the firing is a loss not only because of its discriminatory stance, but because Choi is an Arabic translator, and the military is desperately short in this field.

Overall, President Obama’s report card on gay and lesbian issues has been mixed, and outlets such as the Times have been pressing the President on his cautious agenda on GLBT issues. I’m giving him a C+ because of his hiring of several high profile members of his cabinet (can you tell that I’m in grading mode?). However, he merits only an average rating because of his failure to move on campaign promises to GLBT constituents. So far, he has remained silent on the gay marriage legislative decisions in Iowa and Maine, and now failed to act upon the firing of gay servicemen and women.

Filed under: gay rights, government, politics, , , , ,

Writing

BIOGRAPHY

RECENT PUBLICATIONS
» "Pinays," AGNI, Spring 2016
» "Dandy," Post Road, Spring 2015
» "Wrestlers," Fifth Wednesday, Spring 2014
» "Babies," Joyland, August 2011
» "Nicolette and Maribel," BostonNow, May 2007
» "The Rice Bowl," Memorious, March 2005
» "The Rules of the Game," Screaming Monkeys: Critiques of Asian American Images (Coffee House Press, June 2003)
» "Deaf Mute," Growing Up Filipino (Philippine American Literary House, April 2003)
» "Good Men ," Genre, April 2003
» "The Foley Artist," Drunken Boat, April 2002
» "Squatters," Take Out: Queer Writing from Asian Pacific America (Asian Am. Writers' Workshop, 2001)
» "Deaf Mute," The North American Review, Jan 2001
» "The First Lady of Our Filipino Nation," The Boston Phoenix, 1999
» "Paper Route," Flyway Literary Review, 1996
» "Brainy Smurf and the Council Bluffs Pride Parade," Generation Q (Alyson, 1996)
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Ricco Villanueva Siasoco is a Manhattan-based writer and non-profit manager. More

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