VA Establishes LGBT
Special Emphasis Group
as EEO Effort Continues
by Danny Ingram
establishment of “sexual orientation” as a protected
class within the Department of Defense Military Equal
Opportunity program has been a major priority for some
time for American Veterans for Equal Rights and other
organizations working towards equality for LGBT military
service members, veterans, and their families. Earlier
this month, this designation became a reality, the
culmination of a concerted effort by many LGBT activists
and service organizations. It has not been an easy
victory, and the uphill battle has been going on for
many years. The designation of LGBT service members as
a protected class is not only necessary for the security
of our men and women in uniform, but carries significant
implications for LGBT veterans as well.
Military Equal Opportunity (MEO) program was established
as the primary means by which service members belonging
to a "protected class" can receive help to redress
complaints of harassment and discrimination. According
to the Air Force MEO Program website, "The MEO program
seeks to eliminate unlawful discrimination and sexual
harassment against military members, family members, and
retirees based on race, color, sex, national origin, or
religion." The first step in resolving an issue is to
report it to immediate superiors, to use "the chain of
command." If a member of the military who belongs to
one of the protected classes believes that they have
attempted to resolve an issue of harassment or
discrimination through the chain of command and have
received no assistance, they can appeal to the MEO
officer within their own unit for direct assistance.
Before LGB service members were added to the list of
protected classes, they did not have this ability. If
their commander was unwilling to help, or was the source
of the harassment, the only recourse open to LGB service
members would be to seek help from the Inspector
General, which is a very difficult, time consuming
Legalizes Love, Again!
Nearly half a century after
the Supreme Court lifted bans on interracial marriage
nationwide, it has now just lifted bans on same sex marriage
across America. Lets be clear, 50 years ago the
President's parents would not have been able to marry in
nearly half the states in our nation. The President's
parents married in Hawaii in 1961, a state that had never
enacted an anti-miscegenation law. His mom's home
state, Kansas, lifted its ban on interracial marriage in
1948. The last state to do that was Alabama which did
so in 2000, imagine!
In late April, the Supreme Court heard oral
arguments about allowing Same Sex Marriage to become the law
of the land or not.
According to the recounting of our day in court,
they talked about the traditions of aboriginals in
the Kalahari desert, and millennia old mores; all this at the dawn of the third millennium.
Fifty or a hundred years from now, folks will shake their heads in
disbelief that there was such a serious discourse on something so self
evident as equal rights. In the future they'll be arguing about
the rights of robots to marry, no doubt. And what about the rights
of gay and transgender robots! Will they be giving impeccably clever logical software responses to questions about their hardware?
Whilst our highest most infallible civil
court engaged in dead serious deliberation grappling with
the gravity of superstition and exclusion, meanwhile in May,
the Prime Minister of Luxembourg married his same sex
partner in a rite attended by European heads to state,
royalty, and surely the gay Prime Minister of Belgium and
the former lesbian Prime Minster of Iceland and her wife.
And in Ireland, a conservative Catholic country, two
thirds of that nation's voters voted to enshrine same sex
marriage into their sacred constitution! The 'Yes'
vote was supported by all of the country's political
MAJ, USAF, Ret.
Major Shari Zabel, Retired, served a full twenty year career as a
fighter pilot, then served as a civilian with NORAD, and then began
transitioning from male to female in 2013. That's the short version of
an incredible life as an American patriot; the details follow.
family, from Liberal Kansas, were Nazarene Christian fundamentalists.
Her father was a diesel mechanic and her mother taught English, speech,
and debate. Her grandfather and uncle had both served in the Air
Force. Shari grew up in Oklahoma and Arkansas. Her earliest memory of
knowing she was a girl in a boy's body was at the age of three when she
'borrowed' her sister's leotard. She soon learned that expressing who
she was wasn't safe. In elementary school she learned how to 'act like
a boy as was expected.' Still, at an early age, she began to be teased
as effeminate. So, she tried harder and ended up excelling as an
athlete, in track and playing baseball and football. These were the
typical transgender early experiences of a person now aged 50. As a
teenager, she knew how to fight, how to quote the bible, and how to be a
social conservative; she kept who she was bottled up inside, never
speaking of it to anyone, not even herself.