President Obama announced that the US ban on gays serving openly in the military will be lifted on September 20, bringing the Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy to an end. The President met with Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen to certify that the armed forces are ready for the change.
Don't Ask Don't Tell forces gay and bisexual service people to keep their sexual orientation a secret or face possible expulsion from the military. More than 14,000 men and women have been discharged in the policy's 17-year history, according to the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network.
House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi applauded the move. "When the repeal of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' is complete, we will send a clear message to every American: anyone with the courage to wear our nation's uniform will be judged not by whom they love, but by their skill, ability, and love of country," said Pelosi in a written statement.
DADT was instituted by former President Bill Clinton in 1993 and prohibits the military from inquiring about a service member's sexual orientation, and also calls for the discharge of anyone who acknowledges being lesbian or gay. Thus far, the policy has led to the expulsion of more than 13,000 troops.
Media Resources: Reuters, 7/22/2011; The State Column, 7/24/2011; Servicemembers Legal Defense Network 7/23/11; Feminist Daily Newswire 11/8/10
8/28/2015 Alaska Court Protects Abortion Access for Low-Income Women - The Alaska Superior Court struck down a state law yesterday that would have severely limited abortion access for low-income women in Alaska.
The state's Superior Court also struck down a Department of Health and Social Services regulation that placed narrow specifications on Medicaid coverage for abortions, requiring that Medicaid-funded abortions be determined by a physician to be "medically necessary." Last year, the Center for Reproductive Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Planned Parenthood sued on behalf of the Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, claiming that the narrow definition of "medically necessary" arbitrarily established conditions designed to restrict the ability of low-income women to access abortion services.
The law was temporarily blocked last July by an Alaskan state court judge.
Superior Court Judge John Suddock ordered yesterday that the state be blocked from implementing this regulation, ruling that it placed an undue burden on low-income women seeking abortion services in Alaska.
"By providing health care to all poor Alaskans except women who need abortions, the challenged regulation violates the state constitutional guarantee of 'equal rights, opportunities, and protection under the law'," the ruling read.
"We applaud the superior court for striing down these cruel restrictions on women's health and rights that violate the Alaska Constitution," said Chris Charbonneau, CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands. . . .
8/26/2015 Saudi Women Prepare to Vote for the First Time - The fight for gender equality is making slow but notable progress in Saudi Arabia, where women will be allowed to vote for the first time in upcoming December elections.
This shift in Saudi law came in 2011, when a royal decree announced that women would be allowed to vote and run in local elections beginning in December of 2015. . . .