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Department of Defense Blocks Iraq Troops’ Access to Pro-LGBT Website

Last Saturday, The Hill reported that the Department of Defense was actively blocking access to the Courage Campaign website from troops currently stationed in Iraqi. According to reports, a soldier in Iraq informed the organization of the ban. The online-based grassroots organizes that boast 700,000 current members recently wrote to Secretary of Defense Robert Gates demanding the website to be unblocked before election day on November 2. In an interview, Courage Campaign founder Rick Jacobs said that California troops currently in Iraq are now denied access to critical information about the upcoming election, making it difficult for them to decide on issues appearing on Tuesday’s ballot. He stated,

“It is an enormous problem because the election on California is extremely important.”

Jacobs also insinuated to the reason behind the website ban, remarking that the Courage Campaign’s mission is based on issues, not candidate positions, making the block “more frightening.” The Advocate stressed in their article that the troops are still allowed access to right-wing websites.

The DoD has been known to block high-bandwidth websites like YouTube and Pandora in order to lighten the load on military networks. However, Jacobs argued that Courage Campaign’s website is being actively banned by the Pentagon, even mentioning that they use the same software as Obama’s 2008 campaign site. Lieutenant Colonel April Cunningham, a spokesperson for the Department of Defense, listed specific reasons that the DoD considers when blocking sites, of which appropriate ones “are to be used for official purposes, in accordance with Joint Ethics Regulations (JER) governing ethics, security, and bandwidth issues.”

Jacobs and others have been eager to attribute the block to Courage Campaign’s pro-LGBT stance. The group has been working on ending the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, and several writers suggest that the group’s common online use of the words “same-sex” and “gay” caused the DoD to ban the site via word filtering.

For more information, visit Courage Campaign’s Facebook page.

About the Author: Qichen Zhang

Qichen is an undergraduate studying Social Studies at Harvard College. Besides Herdict, she blogs for the Berkman Center's OpenNet Initiative and Blogging Common. She can be reached at

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