Where are we now?

As I begin to reflect on this presidential election, I wonder how it is that so many predictions could have been so wrong. I expect we will now see those who had it right all along chastising the ones who didn’t for not giving them enough credit at the time. I’m sure that there will be much discussion and criticism in the days and weeks to come that try to explain the errors, and blame will be passed around ad nauseum. Laying blame might be an enticing outlet for anger or planning future campaigns, but it’s of little comfort to me as an American citizen trying to keep the faith in our country. I want instead to understand where I am and how to move forward rather than speculate on how the political machines got us here.

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Wearing my Pride

It’s not that I dress up to go to the gym–I’m really only there to work out. But I’m also well aware of the fact that people who are just at the gym to work out also look around at their fellow gym-goers, even if it’s just to say hello or ask if someone is done with a certain piece of equipment. When you go to the same gym all the time, you inevitably run into people you know. You get workout ideas from people around you. (I’m convinced that the reason there are so many mirrors in the gym is so you can look at people with a smaller chance of them realizing they’re being looked at.) So, because I am conscious of the fact that people will see me, and because I am not a caveman, I put a little effort into my gym attire. Today’s internal wardrobe debate came about because I happened across this shirt, and I stopped to contemplate whether I should wear it to the gym on base.Image Continue reading “Wearing my Pride”

How Can Southern Baptist Military Chaplains Continue to Serve ‘God and Country’?

I’m so tired of hearing about anti-gay “conscience protections”. There was a time that the military provided safe-haven for racists who based their bigotry on deeply held personal and religious beliefs. Then President Truman issued an executive order that abolished racial discrimination and they were no longer allowed to be openly racist. There was a time when misogyny pervaded the military, and although we still do not have full gender equality, at least it isn’t acceptable to be openly sexist. Yet despite the broad public and Congressional support of repealing DADT, a Supreme Court decision repealing DOMA, and policies from the Department of Defense and individual service chiefs implementing open and equal service for gay and lesbian service members, it is still somehow acceptable for people to publicly state their opinions to the contrary and escape any accountability–indeed be granted legal protection–for doing so. I joined the military, not a church. I therefore don’t care what some churches have to say about my sexuality or my marriage. I don’t care what anyone else thinks about my sexuality. I do care when they expect a government-sponsored platform or pulpit from which to evangelize or proselytize their bigotry. As a member of the U.S. Armed Forces, I expect to be treated with dignity, professionalism, and respect. That anyone should even consider granting chaplains (or anyone else) the right to insult me or my family openly and publicly, be it in a chapel or an office, is not acceptable. It’s offensive and totally contrary to our nation’s and military’s values.
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

Why DOMA needs to go… Now.

2nd Annual Knights Out and USMC Spectrum Dinner[Update: a version of this letter was published in the Marine Corps Times, 15 April 2013.]

Serving my country as a United States Marine has been and continues to be the greatest privilege and honor of my life. In just a few short months my commitment to defending our nation will take me to my next duty station in Okinawa, Japan. I have a lot to do between now and then, not the least of which is graduating from Expeditionary Warfare School at Marine Corps University, but no doubt my personal priority is getting married to the love of my life, Ben. Continue reading “Why DOMA needs to go… Now.”

More for less

Someone recently suggested that there is no one to bail out America, so we need to cut government spending. This is false, there are people who can solve our economic woes: us. Our government ultimately exists to take care of us, and that costs money. Defense, education, health care, infrastructure. The price of everything has gone up and will continue to, yet we want to pay less and less for the services that keep us safe. We want better education, better health care, better roads, better environment, better disaster response, and then we vote for candidates who will promise us they can deliver those things while reducing what our share of the bill is. When will we realize this is impossible?

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On Christmas

A friend on Facebook posted that he was glad the White House still called the tree that was erected this week a “Christmas Tree”. Chaos ensued as atheists attacked Christians, Muslims were called out as terrorists, liberals and conservatives were vilified, and, as all Internet comment threads will eventually lead to (see “Godwin’s Law”), Adolf Hitler’s name was invoked. Here are my two cents, for your amusement and consideration:

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Discussing the attack on Newt Gingrich’s Judeo-Christian civilization

Last week, Newt Gingrich was interviewed on the Christian Broadcasting Network after announcing his forming of a committee to consider a presidential run in 2012. In it, he made the following comment:

In a sense, our Judeo-Christian civilization is under attack from two fronts. On one front, you have a secular, atheist, elitism. And on the other front, you have radical Islamists. And both groups would like to eliminate our civilization if they could. For different reasons, but with equal passion. (From an Interview on the Christian Broadcasting Network, 9 March 2011)

For a man doing an interview with CBN in an attempt to clarify his indiscretions, Newt Gingrich seems to be attacking Judeo-Christian values just fine on his own. That aside, he is intent on being forgiven for his inappropriate actions by Evangelical Christians whose support he would need in a successful bid for the presidency in 2012. I would venture to say that someone who would break his own sacred vows and then expect immediate forgiveness not only for his actions but for his soul is exactly the kind of person we don’t need running the country right now. Can a man be trusted who claims to follow a particular faith, and upon his failure expects all to be forgiven without understanding? If he can’t do it in his marriage, I struggle to see how he’d be able to do it with any less sacred a bond. I’d much prefer someone who has a demonstrated history of living by the rules he has sworn to uphold.

Yesterday, I happened across the same quote posted by a friend on Facebook. As the particular quote struck a nerve with me, I posted a comment on the quote, which resulted in a discussion. The discussion was between myself and another commenter, not my friend who made the original post. Here’s how it played out, and I’d love to hear your comments.

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The “Typical” Marine

Although I was working last week, I paid as close attention to the hearings on DADT repeal in the Senate Armed Services Committee as I could. I was encouraged that the service chiefs were as supportive of the report as they were, as well as their attitudes towards their respective services’ ability to implement repeal should it be ordered by Congress to do so.

As a Marine who personally supports the repeal of DADT, I have been working over the past several days to understand the position of the Marine Commandant, General Amos. Specifically, although he recognized that, according to the Comprehensive Review Working Group’s report, over 80% of those who have knowingly served with gay service members in their units have a relatively positive (or neutral) view of repeal, nearly 45% of troops who have deployed have a negative view. He used this latter statistic as the basis for his apprehension towards repeal at this time. I agree with the Commandant that, although a statistical minority, this figure represents a segment of the military that cannot be ignored.

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President Obama’s Speech to Students

I wrote this piece in September of 2009. Apparently, this idea of protecting children from the President of the United States still isn’t dead, so I’m re-posting.

As I sit here watching and listening to President Obama’s speech for students on the first day of school, telling them the importance of staying in school, of taking control of their own education, and of growing up and doing great things, I think about the parents all across the country who had their kids stay home from school, or demanded that the schools not broadcast the message.
There was a conservative talk show host a few years back who referred to the public school system as the “government schools”. I actually think this is an accurate name for it. That’s exactly what it is. The Board of Education (a government entity) determines what should be taught in schools and then requires schools funded with public money to teach just that. Why should the President of the United States not be allowed to address the students in his schools? If you don’t like what the government teaches, then you can foot the bill to teach them whatever ridiculousness you want them to learn. (Just remember that, one day, those kids will have to grow up and deal with the products of public education. But I digress.)

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