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Posts Tagged ‘DOMA’

So. . . I got a call back from the PR people at Paul Weiss.  They’re insisting that an interview with Edie Windsor is impossible.  Unfortunately, it looks like my quest is a no-go for now (but they can bet I’ll be the first in line when the case is over).  At least I tried.  =P

I’ll have a new post coming soon.

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Edith Windsor and her wife, Thea Spyer, were together for more than 40 years, and married for their final two years together–until Thea died from multiple-sclerosis in 2009.

Now, Edith is heading the fight to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which unfairly defines marriage as being between a man and a woman under federal law.

Because of DOMA, Edith was forced to pay more than $360,000 in federal estate taxes on her inheritance from her late wife.  As of November 2010, she is filing a lawsuit against the United States of America for a refund of the tax.

This week, the Republicans in the House of Representatives decided to fund the defense of DOMA using taxpayers’ dollars, despite the fact that President Obama and his administration have already stated that they will no longer defend the constitutionality of DOMA.

MY GOAL, in the next few weeks is to somehow manage to interview Edith Windsor on her case.  I was able to speak to her on the phone, but was told that she couldn’t do an interview without her lawyers or PR people present. . . so now I’m trying to sift through all the legal mumbo-jumbo and secretaries at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP to see if I can get my interview!

Wish me luck!  =P

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There are big changes for the LGBTQ community taking place in the United States.  President Barack Obama just announced that the government will no longer be spending taxpayer dollars to uphold the Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage as being between a man and a woman and allows state governments the option of not recognizing marriages, civil unions, or domestic partnerships from other states.

However, even before that, in December of last year, the Senate also voted to repeal the “Don’t ask, don’t tell” (DADT) policy created 17 years ago by the administration of former President Bill Clinton.  For almost two decades, this policy prevented gay men and lesbians from serving openly in the military.  It has caused many good soldiers to be dishonorably discharged from the service, and many more to have to hide their sexuality from their superiors and fellow soldiers.

This policy has had such a long history, that I wanted to get a feel for how the typical straight soldier feels about the repeal of “Don’t ask, don’t tell,” so I interviewed 21-year-old Nancy Feliz.  Nancy is an ammunition specialist in the United States Army, and has been serving for almost four years.  She may be straight, but she had a lot to say about DADT.

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What made you want to join the military?

Feliz:  I grew up in a household where my father made it clear a woman is to stay at home, cook and clean, and the man is to work and all that other stuff—so a very sexist home. And it was me and my three other sisters and my one brother, and he was catered to, so I’ve always been more aggressive. I tell my mom sometimes I should have been born a boy, because I’m just more of a tomboy. And I just told my dad that I’m going to join the army, and he actually didn’t speak to me for a year and a half after I left because of it, and he doesn’t like seeing me in my uniform. But I joined because it was something that I wanted to do and I wanted to prove to him anything that you can do, I can do better.

How do you feel about the repeal of DADT?

Feliz:  I think that’s the best thing that’s happened in the army just because it takes away the way that we think that just because you’re gay you can’t serve your country. Sexuality doesn’t have anything to do with how you serve your country, because I’ve known girls that are gay and those are the ones you trust the most. Sexuality does not tell someone you can’t shoot someone, you can’t defend, you can’t have your battle buddy’s back, so I’m glad it happened. I feel like they should have the right to be whoever they want, if they choose to serve their country. It’s not something that many people wanna do, so why should we try to take that away from people who wanna do it because of their sexuality?

Why do you feel like it’s really important?

Feliz:  Because I feel like it’s not fair. We’re telling Americans you have this freedom to be what you wanna be, to do what you wanna do. And here we are fighting for that freedom, and yet if someone is gay, they can’t serve our country. So you’re restricting us from being who we wanna be. I feel like, if I have the right to be with a man, then any other gay person should have the right to be with whoever they wanna be, and it not dictate if you’re allowed to serve your country or not.

Why do you think that DADT lasted as long as it did?

Feliz:  I think it lasted as long as it did because of the way that it was instilled in our minds to think of—like in my English class, “masculinity”—it was perceived that if you’re gay or a woman, you couldn’t serve your country. The women thing passed before, because it was more of an acceptable issue, whereas gay, it was hard to accept. Now, in the 21st century, we’re more open-minded to things, and we’re able to accept who you are, no matter what—no matter what you like or any of your preferences.

How do you feel that people within the armed services will handle the repeal of DADT?

Feliz:  I feel like in the woman’s aspect of it, it’ll be accepted—doesn’t matter if you’re a lesbian or not. When it comes to the men, you still have men that are more closed-minded and are still, “Oh my god. You’re gay? I don’t want you looking at me in the shower.” But I think it’ll be accepted. Like I said, we’re more open-minded, so if we can deal with it outside of the military, it shouldn’t be a problem inside the military.

Is there anything else you want to comment on about DADT?

Feliz:  This had to happen, because I know a lot of gay women that are good soldiers.

Can you tell me about some of the women who you know that are gay in the army?

Feliz:  During my training, I befriended two women, and they ended up falling in love with each other. And one of the girls was the best female in the whole unit. She was a sharpshooter. I ran faster than her, but she was the second best runner. She did all of the pushups like the guys did. She did all the situps. She was very smart—so she had all the qualities that you would want in a soldier. She’s someone you could trust, she was someone that I know that if I need her to have my back, she would have had my back. Whereas we had these straight females that—how we say in the army a “typical female”—that doesn’t want to do nothing, that feels like, “Oh, I’m a girl and I can’t break a nail.” So I feel like, having her there and a lot of other gay girls that can be a woman and can also know how to—I’m not saying be a man—but also know how to not care if she breaks a nail if she’s going to have my back. I’m honestly very pro gay in the army.

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