Meeting Report

June 19, 2011

Heather Minton and Tyson Redhouse

“And Justice for All?” An LGBTQ Perspective

Twenty one members and guests enthusiastically applauded two excellent speakers who presented civilian and military aspects of this topic. Heather Minton is the Public Policy Specialist for the California Partnership to End Domestic Violence (“The Partnership”). She is also Vice-President of the Sacramento Stonewall Democrats, a predominantly gay Democratic club.

Heather began her presentation with a history of the legal fight against restrictions on certain kinds of marriages, beginning with Loving v. Virginia (1967), in which the United States Supreme Court invalidated legal bans on interracial marriages. She recounted California’s passage of Proposition 22 in 2000, Gavin Newsom’s decision to issue marriage licenses to gay couples, and its overturning in May 2008 by the California Supreme Court (In re Marriage Cases). In response to that decision, opponents of gay marriage placed Proposition 8—an amendment the California Constitution—on the ballot in 2008. It passed by a small margin and is now being challenged in the courts. Federal Judge Vaughn Walker ruled against Proposition 8, but the case is still on appeal.

Tyson Redhouse is the president of Sacramento Valley Veterans, a chapter of American Veterans for Equal Rights. He spoke on the campaign to repeal the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT) policy that the military has had in place since 1993. This has prohibited the military from asking recruits questions about homosexuality, but has also prohibited anyone in the military from acknowledging homosexuality.

Those who did have been routinely discharged, regardless of the effect on the mission of the armed forces. A notorious instance was the dismissal of several desperately needed Arabic translators. Tyson cited an estimate of the cost of the policy to the country of $555 million. It is true that last December DADT was repealed by Congress, but the repeal does not go into effect until both certification and a sixty-day waiting period have been completed. People are still being discharged solely for admitting homosexuality.

The meeting ended with both speakers responding at some length to a series of questions.

Report prepared by Wayne Luney

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