A crowd of about 200 gathered in Washington D.C. Friday to protest the military's Don't Ask Don't Tell policy. Speakers such as Takia Mitchell told spoke about the negative effects of the discriminatory policy. Mitchell, who served openly gay for two years in South Korea with no problem, said the situation was very different when she returned the U.S.
"The Army was my life," she said. "It gave me purpose. And at first it gave me a place to thrive. But by the end I was truly an Army of one, singled out because I was gay."
While Congress has announced hearings on the policy, no concrete timetable has been given for making a change. Veteran Neal Riley, who is straight, said the current policy doesn't only affect gays and lesbians.
"For every person we turn away or discharge under this policy, that’s one less Arabic translator in Iraq," he said. "It’s one less special operations soldier looking for Osama bin Laden. It’s one less medic who can save lives on the battlefield."
Presbyterian Leaders Vote Against Gay Clergy Ban
Presbyterian leaders in Kentucky voted 83-61 Tuesday to approve an amendment that would open pastor, deacon and elder positions to gays and lesbians. However, some in the church fear its passage, which be appoved by a national majority of churches, would lead to a denominational split.
The Rev. John Manon of Corbin Presbyterian Church, who opposed the amendment, said he expects the proposal to be approved nationally. If that happens, "the potential is there" for a split in the denomination, he said. "My hope and prayer is that it does not" cause a schism, he said.
Under the new policy ordination would be extended to gays and lesbians, but only under "really tight circumstances" according to Richard Smith, general presbyter for the Translyvania presbytery.
"We're not going to be ordaining anybody who's not a confirmed, solid Christian person. It's not a wide open door by any means," he said. "We take the question of ordination very seriously."
Hopefully gay Presbyterians will seriously be considered.
Obama Rolls Out Education Plan
President Obama outlined his plan for a major overhaul of the U.S. educational system on Tuesday, saying his new plan will follow children "from the cradle up through a career."
"We have let our grades slip, our schools crumble, our teacher quality fall short and other nations outpace us," Obama said in an address to the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. "The time for finger-pointing is over. The time for holding ourselves accountable is here."
"The relative decline of American education is untenable for our economy, unsustainable for our democracy and unacceptable for our children, and we cannot afford to let it continue," he said.
The president outlined a five-tier plan that included $5 billion from the recently passed stimulus package going toward the Head Start program, a proposal to offer 55,000 first-time parents "regular visits from trained nurses to help make sure their children are healthy and prepare them for school and life," and promised to increase federal support by way of an "Early Learning Challenge" program, which offers grants to states that develop plans that improve early education programs.
"In promoting his program, the president called for an end to the "partisanship and petty bickering" that many observers believe has typically defined education policy debates in the past, according to CNN.com.
"We need to move beyond the worn fights of the 20th century if we are going to succeed in the 21st century," he said.