Wednesday, December 22, 2010

DADT REPEALED!

Following the historic repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell", Bi veteran leader Cliff Arnesen wrote an amazing letter you might be interested in reading.  To learn more about the New England GLBT Vets Inc, please visit http://www.newengland-glbt-vets.org/

Don't forget to read Cliff Arnesen's personal history on the BiNet USA website too.
"As a bisexual in the military, there is no distinction in terms of
punishment, no refuge in being bisexual. You get the same consequences;
you don't get half a discharge."--Cliff Arnesen: Quote from Lesbian News, October 2001


Saturday, 18 December 2010

Dear Fellow Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender & Heterosexual Veterans & Advocates:

On the morning of March 15, 1778, after having been court-martialed on charges of attempted sodomy, Lt. Gotthold Frederick Enslin, became the first known soldier in our Country's history to be
“drummed out” of the Continental Army on grounds of homosexuality -- with orders of “Never to return!”

Well, today, 232 years later, Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual & Transgender servicemembers and veterans have RETURNED, with the repeal of the U. S. Military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy by an affirmative
vote of the U.S. Senate.

Yes, today, Lt. Gotthold Frederick Enslin finally rests in peace, as do ALL other GLB&T veterans who gave their lives in service to our Country.

Today, as the United States Military fights a "global war on terrorism," our country needs every patriotic American to defend our Democracy. This includes Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual & Transgender people who have fought with great honor and distinction in ALL of America's wars, and have shed their blood and died on strange battlefields alongside their heterosexual servicemembers in defense of our great Nation.

Today, justice delayed and denied was served to secure human & civil rights -- not special rights -- for the 14,000 plus servicemen and women discharged under the U. S. Military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy. History will record that the sky did not fall down upon us, and the Earth did not quit spinning.

This stated, on behalf of the membership and "Board of Directors" of the New England Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual &Transgender Veterans, Inc., I wish to thank all GLBT veterans and organizations --too numerous to credit --for your years of tireless advocacy and civil disobedience efforts, which shined the light upon the truth that we are not second class citizens, chained to the bondage that is
"Don't Ask, Don't Tell."

Unfortunately, the pain endured by the 14,000 servicemembers discharged under "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" can never be undone. Nor can the two cowardly murders of U.S. Navy Seaman Allen Schindler
and U.S. Army PFC. Barry Winchell --both murdered in cold blood by their fellow servicemembers due to their actual or perceived sexual orientations.

Thus, we ask the United States Congress to grant all 14,000 servicemembers "Honorable Discharges" for their pain and suffering: as well as monetary compensation for careers lost and lives ruined!

Also, we thank President Barack Obama, whose long term vision did not deter him from accepting anything less than the repeal coming from the U.S. Congress, as the stroke a pen from another President would undo any prior federal statutes.

And lastly, as a bisexual veteran, I do "identify" with all the 14,000 servicembers pain and sorrow, as during the Vietnam War, I was court-martialed and sentenced to a year at hard labor in a military prison--of which I served three and a half months in "segregated confinement, because the other prisoners had threatened to rape and kill me due to my sexual orientation.

Finally, on Wednesday, January 25, 1967, I was given an “Undesirable Discharge,” based on homosexuality -- which effectively precluded my receiving any and all future VA medical and educational benefits.
Then, I was escorted outside the gates of Fort Dix by two armed military policemen. But in a final act of defiance against the pain and humiliation I suffered at the hands of the military, I took a lighter out of my pocket, set fire to the "Undesirable Discharge," and threw it on the ground. Then I hitched a ride back to Brooklyn with nothing but a subway token in my pocket. I was a man without a country!

Thereafter, fate, anger and traumatic emotional pain, led me to advocate for all of our Country's GLB&T Veterans; and in the years (1989 &1990) I became the First "Openly Bisexual" Veteran In America to Testify on Behalf of GLBT Veterans Before The U.S. Congress, via the U.S. House Committee On Veterans Affairs: Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations.

Having spent a third of my life as a bisexual advocate and veteran, I, and other members of the Bisexual Community had to constantly hammer into the minds of many Gay & Lesbian individuals, organizations, Gay & straight media, and members of Congress, that the inhumae "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy included the discharge of "bisexual" servicemembers, as well as Gay & Lesbian.

For many years the silence was deafening and people thought I was filled with ego and a pain in the ass. Then, slowly, a few Gay & Lesbian veterans and advocacy organizations used the name Bisexual, but basically in the generic.

Even as I watched the historic Senate vote unfold on CNN News, I was struck by the fact that not once did any reporter mention the word "Bisexual."

Thus, I say to all Gay & Lesbian advocates today, that the marginalization of bisexual servicemembers and veterans was a disgrace to me personally; and to all my bisexual brother and sister veterans, and the larger Bisexual Community." And, the intentional or unintentional lack of "visibility" for bisexual veterans and biseual people divided all who were trying to obtain the same goal.

So, let this be a caveat to all, that to marginalize "any group" is unacceptable, immoral, and counter productive to securing human and civil rights for all.

Therfore, I ask all who read this press release, to please use the name and word "bisexual" in your literature and press releases from this day forward, because now through "years of tears," we have by the grace of God, and men and women of good conscience who spoke up, achieved collective recognition as Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual & Transgender Veterans who have always served America with patriotic duty and honor. I have been blessed by fate, and am humble to have played a part in helping to secure human & civil rights for ALL my GLBT brothers and sisters.

May God bless America, Her servicemembers who fight the global war on terrorism; and all of God's Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual & Transgender children.

Sincerely and bisexually yours,

Cliff Arnesen

Bisexual President

CELL PHONE---617 -697-1045

Bisexual US Army (Vietnam -Era Veteran) 1965-1967
Imprisoned & Discharged as Homosexual From US Army in 1967
Disabled Person/ 70% Non Service Connected Disability
Current Volunteer: Jamaica Plain, MA, Veterans Administration Medical Center

(1 0f 5) Co-Founders, Natl. Gay, Lesbian & Bisexual Veterans of America, Inc. (Now American Veterans for Equal Rights)
Member: Predominately Gay, Alexander Hamilton, American Legion Post 448
Former Board Member: National Bisexual Advisory Board
Former Medical Patient Services Assistant, US Department of Veterans Affairs
Former "Openly Bisexual" Volunteer Veteran: US Sen. John F. Kerry’s 1996 "Veterans For Kerry"
Senate Reelection Campaign, Boston, Massachusetts
First "Openly Bisexual" Veteran In America to Testify on Behalf of GLBT Veterans Before The U.S. Congress,
via U.S. House Committee On Veterans Affairs: Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations (1989 & 1990)


"As a bisexual in the military, there is no distinction in terms of
punishment, no refuge in being bisexual. You get the same consequences;
you don't get half a discharge."
--Cliff Arnesen: Quote from Lesbian News, October 2001