The White House has been hyping the launch of Michelle Obama’s campaign for military families. The Obama administration even recruited Stanley McChrystal, the General Obama fired last year to run the program:
Nearly a year after President Barack Obama fired Gen. Stanley McChrystal as his top commander in Afghanistan, the White House has asked him to head a new advisory board to support military families.
So, guess who isn’t included?
From Alex Nicholson at Servicemembers United:
It is rather unfortunate that both East Wing and West Wing staff have refused to allow a representative of gay military families to even be in the room at an event that is supposed to honor their commitment and sacrifice.
We have been trying for nearly two weeks to get just one spot for one of our community’s representatives at this event. The First Lady’s office has used the continued enforcement of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ as an excuse to exclude us, even though they know that ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ does not apply to the civilians who work at their advocacy and service organizations. Many straight organizational representatives have been invited to this event, including some with few or no military families in their constituencies. Yet our thousands of gay military families are shut out from being represented today because of nothing but lingering political homophobia. Gay and lesbian military families should not have to fight this hard just to stand in the back of the room in 2011.
The Advocate’s Andrew Harmon has more:
On Tuesday, First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden are set to kick off a nationwide tour “to address the unique challenges” faced by military families. But attendees at the White House launch event will not include representatives for gay military families.
In a statement to The Advocate, Kristina Schake, communications director for Mrs. Obama, said: “The President has been crystal clear that the Administration is moving forward with the repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ quickly and efficiently. However, it still remains the law. The White House, including the First Lady and Dr. Biden, look forward to working with the families of gay and lesbian service members after certification occurs and repeal goes into effect.”
However laudable its goal, the two-day military families tour to bases in North Carolina, Texas, Colorado, and Ohio also highlights ongoing challenges resulting from DADT repeal that are anything but insignificant: in part, how to put gay spouses and partners of service members on equal footing wherever possible with their straight counterparts.
I wish I was surprised. I’m not.
NOTE FROM JOHN: The First Lady’s office is disingenuous at best when arguing that DADT forces them to exclude gay servicemembers from the event. They reportedly invited 27 representatives of straight military family organizations to the event, why didn’t they invite even just one representative of gay military family organizations – representatives who are already out of the military, so there’s no DADT problem? In fact, Servicemembers United has been urging the White House for two weeks now to invite a rep from a gay servicemembers group, and the White House refused. The White House clearly wanted this to be a heterosexual event. DADT had nothing to do with it.
Not to mention, the White House could have invited the family of a gay US military member killed in the line of duty. Once they’re dead, even DOD can’t punish them for being gay. And what a fitting gesture it would have been. But this was a straights-only event – and no one wanted to spoils Sandals Day at the White House.