Malawi pardons a gay couple from a 14-year prison term after a meeting with U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. Deborah Lutterbeck reports.
By ROBERT BURNS, AP National Security Writer
WASHINGTON -- The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said Sunday he would have preferred that Congress had waited before voting to repeal the "don't ask, don't tell" law that bans gays from serving openly in the military.
Adm. Mike Mullen did not directly criticize a House vote on Friday that marked a step toward repealing the ban. But he said it would have been better for lawmakers to wait until the Pentagon completed its review of how to make the repeal work. That study, due in December, is based on a current survey of troops and their families.
"Ideally, I would certainly have preferred that legislation not be brought forward in terms of the change until we are completed with that review," Mullen said.
The legislation, he noted, gives the Pentagon until year's end to finish its study and stipulates that he and Defense Secretary Robert Gates and President Barack Obama must certify that the military is prepared to make the change before the repeal takes effect.
There is worry among some in the military and in Congress that the House vote short-circuited the process of consulting with troops and their families.
"It is really critical to understand the points of view of those it will affect the most as we look at the implementation challenges, should the law change," said Mullen, who favors lifting the ban.
"So we will complete that review and certainly incorporate what we learned from that into implementation when that time comes."
A senior defense official on Friday said troops with concerns about the repeal are less willing to speak freely because the vote makes the outcome clear. The official, who is knowledgeable about the troop consultations, spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the Pentagon response.
Some troops feel double-crossed, the official said, because they had been told that nothing would happen quickly and were assured that the Pentagon would take their individual concerns into account. These misgivings about the political process have been aired over the past week at town-hall style events where troops are encouraged to share any doubts about repeal, the official said.
Sen. Jim Webb said he was disturbed that the Senate Armed Services Committee, of which he is a member, voted on Thursday to repeal the ban. The full Senate is not expected to act for months. Webb, D-Va., echoed Mullen's concern about not allowing members of the military to express their views before Congress acted.
"I believe we had a process in place and to pre-empt it in some ways showed a disrespect for the people in the military," Webb said.
Colin Powell, the retired Army general who opposed allowing gays to serve openly when he was chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the 1993 law was enacted, said he now supports repeal and believes it will happen.
"The president said we're going to do it. It's a decision," Powell said. "And the Congress has to pass the law to allow that. And so let's take the time to make the study, see what the implications are."
Mullen appeared on CNN's "State of the Union" and "Fox News Sunday." Webb was on CNN and Powell spoke on ABC's "This Week."
AP National Security writer Anne Gearan contributed to this report.
Caption: Adm. Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, addresses cadets during graduation ceremonies at the United States Air Force Academy in Air Force Academy, Colo. on Wednesday, May 26, 2010. (AP Photo/The Gazette, Mark Reis)
White House: We must end 'persecution and criminalization of sexual orientation and gender identity'
From the White House:
Statement by the Press Secretary on Today's Pardoning in Malawi
The White House is pleased to learn of President Bingu wa Mutharika's pardon of Tiwonge Chimbalanga and Steven Monjeza. These individuals were not criminals and their struggle is not unique. We must all recommit ourselves to ending the persecution and criminalization of sexual orientation and gender identity. We hope that President Mutharika's pardon marks the beginning of a new dialogue which reflects the country's history of tolerance and a new day for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender rights in Malawi and around the globe.
BLANTYRE, Malawi -- Malawi's president says he has pardoned and ordered the release of a jailed gay couple sentenced to 14 years in prison.
President Bingu wa Mutharika made the announcement Saturday during a press conference with U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in Lilongwe, the capital.
A judge earlier this month convicted and sentenced Tiwonge Chimbalanga (who identifies as a transgender woman) and Steven Monjeza on charges of unnatural acts and gross indecency, both colonial-era laws.
The two were arrested in December, a day after they celebrated their engagement.
The case has drawn international condemnation and sparked a debate on human rights in this conservative southern African country.
Homosexuality is illegal in at least 37 countries in Africa, including Malawi.
From the White House:
The 234-194 roll call Thursday by which the House voted to repeal the 1993 law known as "don't ask, don't tell" and allow gays to serve openly in the military.
A "yes" vote is a vote to pass the measure.
Voting yes were 229 Democrats and 5 Republicans.
Voting no were 26 Democrats and 168 Republicans.
X denotes those not voting.
Democrats - Bright, N; Davis, X.
Republicans - Aderholt, N; Bachus, N; Bonner, N; Griffith, N; Rogers, N.
Republicans - Young, N.
Democrats - Giffords, Y; Grijalva, Y; Kirkpatrick, Y; Mitchell, Y; Pastor, Y.
Republicans - Flake, N; Franks, N; Shadegg, N.
Democrats - Berry, N; Ross, N; Snyder, Y.
Republicans - Boozman, N.
Democrats - Baca, Y; Becerra, Y; Berman, Y; Capps, Y; Cardoza, Y; Chu, Y; Costa, Y; Davis, Y; Eshoo, Y; Farr, Y; Filner, Y; Garamendi, Y; Harman, Y; Honda, Y; Lee, Y; Lofgren, Zoe, Y; Matsui, Y; McNerney, Y; Miller, George, Y; Napolitano, Y; Pelosi, Y; Pelosi, X (the speaker by tradition often does not vote); Richardson, Y; Roybal-Allard, Y; Sanchez, Linda T., Y; Sanchez, Loretta, Y; Schiff, Y; Sherman, Y; Speier, Y; Stark, Y; Thompson, Y; Waters, Y; Watson, Y; Waxman, Y; Woolsey, Y.
Republicans - Bilbray, N; Bono Mack, N; Calvert, N; Campbell, N; Dreier, N; Gallegly, N; Herger, N; Hunter, N; Issa, N; Lewis, N; Lungren, Daniel E., N; McCarthy, N; McClintock, N; McKeon, N; Miller, Gary, N; Nunes, N; Radanovich, N; Rohrabacher, N; Royce, N.
Democrats - DeGette, Y; Markey, Y; Perlmutter, Y; Polis, Y; Salazar, Y.
Republicans - Coffman, N; Lamborn, N.
Democrats - Courtney, Y; DeLauro, Y; Himes, Y; Larson, Y; Murphy, Y.
Republicans - Castle, N.
Democrats - Boyd, Y; Brown, Corrine, Y; Castor, Y; Deutch, Y; Grayson, Y; Hastings, X; Klein, Y; Kosmas, Y; Meek, Y; Wasserman Schultz, Y.
Republicans - Bilirakis, N; Brown-Waite, Ginny, X; Buchanan, N; Crenshaw, N; Diaz-Balart, L., N; Diaz-Balart, M., N; Mack, N; Mica, N; Miller, N; Posey, N; Putnam, N; Rooney, N; Ros-Lehtinen, Y; Stearns, N; Young, N.
Democrats - Barrow, Y; Bishop, N; Johnson, Y; Lewis, Y; Marshall, N; Scott, Y.
Republicans - Broun, N; Gingrey, N; Kingston, N; Linder, N; Price, N; Westmoreland, N.
Democrats - Hirono, Y.
Republicans - Djou, Y.
Democrats - Minnick, Y.
Republicans - Simpson, N.
Democrats - Bean, Y; Costello, N; Davis, Y; Foster, Y; Gutierrez, Y; Halvorson, Y; Hare, Y; Jackson, Y; Lipinski, N; Quigley, Y; Rush, Y; Schakowsky, Y.
Republicans - Biggert, Y; Johnson, N; Kirk, N; Manzullo, N; Roskam, N; Schock, N; Shimkus, N.
Democrats - Carson, Y; Donnelly, N; Ellsworth, Y; Hill, Y; Visclosky, Y.
Republicans - Burton, N; Buyer, N; Pence, N.
Democrats - Boswell, Y; Braley, Y; Loebsack, Y.
Republicans - King, N; Latham, N.
Democrats - Moore, Y.
Republicans - Jenkins, N; Moran, N; Tiahrt, N.
Democrats - Chandler, Y; Yarmuth, Y.
Republicans - Davis, X; Guthrie, N; Rogers, N; Whitfield, N.
Democrats - Melancon, X.
Republicans - Alexander, N; Boustany, N; Cao, Y; Cassidy, N; Fleming, N; Scalise, N.
Democrats - Michaud, Y; Pingree, Y.
Democrats - Cummings, Y; Edwards, Y; Hoyer, Y; Kratovil, Y; Ruppersberger, Y; Sarbanes, Y; Van Hollen, Y.
Republicans - Bartlett, N.
Democrats - Capuano, Y; Delahunt, Y; Frank, Y; Lynch, Y; Markey, Y; McGovern, Y; Neal, Y; Olver, Y; Tierney, Y; Tsongas, Y.
Democrats - Conyers, Y; Dingell, Y; Kildee, Y; Kilpatrick, Y; Levin, Y; Peters, Y; Schauer, Y; Stupak, Y.
Republicans - Camp, N; Ehlers, N; Hoekstra, N; McCotter, N; Miller, N; Rogers, N; Upton, N.
Democrats - Ellison, Y; McCollum, Y; Oberstar, Y; Peterson, N; Walz, Y.
Republicans - Bachmann, N; Kline, N; Paulsen, N.
Democrats - Childers, N; Taylor, N; Thompson, Y.
Republicans - Harper, N.
Democrats - Carnahan, Y; Clay, Y; Cleaver, Y; Skelton, N.
Republicans - Akin, N; Blunt, N; Emerson, N; Graves, X; Luetkemeyer, N.
Republicans - Rehberg, N.
Republicans - Fortenberry, N; Smith, N; Terry, N.
Democrats - Berkley, Y; Titus, Y.
Republicans - Heller, N.
Democrats - Hodes, Y; Shea-Porter, Y.
Democrats - Adler, Y; Andrews, Y; Holt, Y; Pallone, Y; Pascrell, Y; Payne, Y; Rothman, Y; Sires, Y.
Republicans - Frelinghuysen, N; Garrett, N; Lance, N; LoBiondo, N; Smith, N.
Democrats - Heinrich, Y; Lujan, Y; Teague, Y.
Democrats - Ackerman, Y; Arcuri, Y; Bishop, Y; Clarke, Y; Crowley, Y; Engel, Y; Hall, Y; Higgins, Y; Hinchey, Y; Israel, Y; Lowey, Y; Maffei, Y; Maloney, Y; McCarthy, Y; McMahon, Y; Meeks, Y; Murphy, Y; Nadler, Y; Owens, Y; Rangel, Y; Serrano, Y; Slaughter, Y; Tonko, Y; Towns, Y; Velazquez, Y; Weiner, Y.
Republicans - King, N; Lee, N.
Democrats - Butterfield, Y; Etheridge, N; Kissell, Y; McIntyre, N; Miller, Y; Price, Y; Shuler, N; Watt, Y.
Republicans - Coble, N; Foxx, N; Jones, N; McHenry, N; Myrick, N.
Democrats - Pomeroy, N.
Democrats - Boccieri, Y; Driehaus, Y; Fudge, Y; Kaptur, Y; Kilroy, Y; Kucinich, Y; Ryan, Y; Space, Y; Sutton, Y; Wilson, Y.
Republicans - Austria, N; Boehner, N; Jordan, N; LaTourette, N; Latta, N; Schmidt, N; Tiberi, N; Turner, N.
Democrats - Boren, X.
Republicans - Cole, N; Fallin, N; Lucas, N; Sullivan, N.
Democrats - Blumenauer, Y; DeFazio, Y; Schrader, Y; Wu, Y.
Republicans - Walden, N.
Democrats - Altmire, Y; Brady, Y; Carney, N; Critz, N; Dahlkemper, Y; Doyle, Y; Fattah, Y; Holden, Y; Kanjorski, Y; Murphy, Patrick, Y; Schwartz, Y; Sestak, Y.
Republicans - Dent, N; Gerlach, N; Murphy, Tim, N; Pitts, N; Platts, N; Shuster, N; Thompson, N.
Democrats - Kennedy, Y; Langevin, Y.
Democrats - Clyburn, Y; Spratt, N.
Republicans - Barrett, N; Brown, N; Inglis, N; Wilson, N.
Democrats - Herseth Sandlin, Y.
Democrats - Cohen, Y; Cooper, Y; Davis, N; Gordon, Y; Tanner, N.
Republicans - Blackburn, N; Duncan, N; Roe, N; Wamp, N.
Democrats - Cuellar, Y; Doggett, Y; Edwards, N; Gonzalez, Y; Green, Al, Y; Green, Gene, N; Hinojosa, Y; Jackson Lee, Y; Johnson, E. B., Y; Ortiz, N; Reyes, Y; Rodriguez, Y.
Republicans - Barton, N; Brady, N; Burgess, N; Carter, N; Conaway, N; Culberson, N; Gohmert, N; Granger, N; Hall, N; Hensarling, N; Johnson, Sam, N; Marchant, N; McCaul, N; Neugebauer, N; Olson, N; Paul, Y; Poe, N; Sessions, N; Smith, N; Thornberry, N.
Democrats - Matheson, Y.
Republicans - Bishop, N; Chaffetz, N.
Democrats - Welch, Y.
Democrats - Boucher, N; Connolly, Y; Moran, Y; Nye, Y; Perriello, Y; Scott, Y.
Republicans - Cantor, N; Forbes, N; Goodlatte, N; Wittman, N; Wolf, N.
Democrats - Baird, Y; Dicks, Y; Inslee, Y; Larsen, Y; McDermott, Y; Smith, Y.
Republicans - Hastings, N; McMorris Rodgers, N; Reichert, N.
Democrats - Mollohan, Y; Rahall, N.
Republicans - Capito, N.
Democrats - Baldwin, Y; Kagen, Y; Kind, Y; Moore, Y; Obey, Y.
Republicans - Petri, N; Ryan, X; Sensenbrenner, N.
Republicans - Lummis, N.
Democrats - Bordallo, Y; Christensen, Y; Faleomavaega, Y; Norton, Y; Pierluisi, X; Sablan, X.
As you may know, the House of Representatives just voted to repeal the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, which has banned gay service members from serving in the military. On this historic day, I wanted to share with you some thoughts about why I voted to repeal the ban.
After September 11th, a dangerous strain threatened the readiness of the members of our armed forces. Serving more tours for longer periods of time puts stress on the war fighter and the families of military personnel. At the same time, in the past five years, the military has discharged almost 800 mission-critical troops, notably Arabic and Farsi linguists needed in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Allowing gay people to serve in the military would help alleviate this strain by making more people eligible to serve. Choosing the “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” policy over our military readiness harms our national security and the safety of our men and women in battle.
The argument supporting the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” was underscored earlier this year by Admiral Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who told the Senate Armed Services Committee, “…it is my personal belief that allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly would be the right thing to do. No matter how I look at the issue, I cannot escape being troubled by the fact that we have in place a policy which forces young men and women to lie about who they are in order to defend their fellow citizens.”
As you may know, an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act to set in motion the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” passed tonight with bipartisan support. The amendment calls for the repeal of this policy after Pentagon completes its Comprehensive Review Working Group on how to implement the repeal. This Review is due December 1, 2010. The amendment also requires and a certification by the Secretary of Defense, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs and President that repeal is consistent with military readiness, military effectiveness, unit cohesion and recruiting.
As our country experiences economic challenges, and the government deficit has become dangerously high, the “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” policy costs the government precious resources. After receiving extensive training from the military, we should not be forcing gay service members to leave the military. Experts believe that banning gay service has cost the U.S. government $1.3 billion since 1980 and that every discharge of gay service member could cost between $10,000 and $37,000.
Finally, and most importantly, the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” is the right thing to do. It is well past time to abolish discrimination against gay Americans. Anyone who wishes to serve our country deserves to do so; and our country deserves to have a force that is ready and secure.
I am proud to have voted today to end this unfair discrimination. Of course, I will keep you updated as we move forward in this process. If you have any questions or if I can be of assistance to you, please call my office or e-mail me through my website: www.klein.house.gov.
Member of Congress
Sizzle Miami 2010 is underway in downtown Miami. The celebration runs through Tuesday, June 1, and includes shopping and sailing during the day and parties at night.
From the Sizzle program: “This Memorial Day Weekend, thousands of men will converge on south Florida for the largest social gathering of the year. Sizzle Miami, conceived almost eight (8) years ago, has grown to become America’s most celebrated and anticipated black gay event.”
Here are pictures I took during Sizzle registration Thursday at host hotel Hyatt Regency. All photos by STEVE ROTHAUS / Miami Herald Staff.
``Somehow it sparked that kid side of me and I just thought, I got to play this part,'' says Gyllenhaal, 29. ``Whereas a lot of other roles take themselves so seriously, particularly in the huge movies, I couldn't imagine myself spending six or seven months of my life taking myself so seriously.''
It's a nice change: After a series of heavy-hitting dramas, including Jarhead, Brothers, Rendition and Brokeback Mountain, the actor is playing a character straight out of a video console.
Based on the game Prince of Persia, Gyllenhaal portrays Prince Dustan, a street kid with a big destiny. He is adopted by a king and brought up to be a sword-wielding warrior in sixth century Persia. The story follows a royal murder mystery and the prince's adventure with a mystical dagger that can turn back time.
Caption: Jake Gyllenhaal in Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time. Andrew Cooper / SMPSP / Disney and Jerry Bruckheimer