America: April 2014

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Charles Schoen
1926 - 2014

By

Danny Ingram

Charles "Chuck" Schoen, one of the six founding members of American Veterans for Equal Rights, passed away on February 27th, 2014, in Desert Hot Springs, California, at the age of 88.  Chuck was a Life Member of AVER and is survived by his fellow US Navy veteran and partner of 48 years, Jack Harris, also a Life Member of AVER.  Chuck Schoen served in the United States Navy during World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War. 

Chuck enlisted in the US Navy in, July, 1942, at the age of 17.  Chuck worked his way up from enlisted to Lieutenant JG, serving 19 years as a nuclear specialist, holding a top secret clearance and travelling three times to the Mediterranean aboard aircraft carriers.  Just short of his retirement Lt. Charles Schoen, a veteran of three wars, was Less-Than-Honorably discharged from the Navy for being gay.  He lost his retirement and all benefits.  Some years later, working with a private attorney, Chuck was able to upgrade his discharge to Honorable, but he never received the full retirement he rightfully earned as just reward for his service to the Navy and our nation. 

In 1987 Chuck worked to form Veterans C.A.R.E. (Council for American Rights and Equality), one of several LGBT veterans groups organizing to fight the ban.  The group participated in the Second National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights in October, 1987.  In 1990 Chuck met with five other organizations in Minneapolis to form GLBVA (Gay Lesbian Bisexual Veterans of America), later AVER.  That same year he travelled to Washington, D.C. to testify on the issue of gays in the military before the United States House Subcommittee on Oversight and Veterans Affairs.

Chuck Schoen worked his entire life to end discrimination against LGBT Americans in the United States Armed Forces, and he lived long enough to see the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell in 2011.

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Gay Marriage

As of mid March, a judge in Tennessee said that bans on same sex marriage will be just a footnote in our history.  Who would have imagined that this day would come when gay marriage is enshrined in law in some eighteen states and our nation's capitol city and that heterosexual judges everywhere are saying that banning our marriages is unconstitutional!  It was only just yesterday, in America's history, that heterosexual local, state, and national officials would break out in a stinky sweat just imagining saying something like that.  An optimist would quiver saying that this is proof of progress in our great nation.  Sure, this is despite the fact that we've been left in historical dust by other countries' progress long ago.  We still await our first female president while that is ancient history even in the most remote places on Earth from Khertek Anchimaa-Toka of Tannu Tuva in 1940,  through the more famed Isabel Peron elected president of Argentina in 1974; and two Jewish-American women who led other countries, Janet Jagen elected as President of Guyana in 1997 and Golda Mier who became Prime Minister of Israel in 1969; not to forget the first openly gay elected Prime Ministers Jóhanna Sigurđardóttir in Iceland in 2009, and Elio Di Rupo in Belgium in 2011.  The list of female and or black world leaders goes on for pages; while here in blessed America an entire national political party wants to disenfranchise democracy because we dared to elect our first black president.

Where was I?  Oh yes, Gay Marriage.  That has been legal in some other countries for over a decade.  Here, the battle goes on inch by inch, city by city, state by state as the nation trembles in anticipation of the end of civilization.  You would think that our opponents had something better to do than worry about who we love.  Their obsession perverts religion and American values.

One cannot write about 'gay marriage' without hearing from pedantic grammarians, lexicographers, and other drudges who tiresomely insist that the proper term is 'same sex marriage' because a gay person has always been allowed to marry a person of the opposite sex.

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