By Chris Lawrence, with reporting from Barbara Starr, CNN
(CNN) –The U.S. military is ending its policy of excluding women from combat and will open combat jobs and direct combat units to female troops, CNN has learned. Multiple officials confirm to CNN that Defense Secretary Leon Panetta will make the announcement tomorrow and notify Congress of the planned change in policy.
“We will eliminate the policy of ‘no women in units that are tasked with direct combat,’” a senior defense official says.
But the officials caution that “not every position will open all at once on Thursday.” Once the policy is changed, the Department of Defense will enter what is being called an “assessment phase,” in which each branch of service will examine all of its jobs and units not currently integrated and then produce a timetable in which it can integrate them.
The Army and Marine Corps, especially, will be examining physical standards and gender-neutral accommodations within combat units. Every 90 days, the service chiefs will have to report back on their progress.
The move will be one of the last significant policy decisions made by Panetta, who is expected to leave in mid-February. It is not clear where former Sen. Chuck Hagel, the nominated replacement, stands, but officials say he has been apprised of Panetta's coming announcement.
“It will take awhile to work out the mechanics in s
Editor's note: Sandra Guzmán is a journalist, blogger, media consultant, and author of, "The New Latina's Bible: The Modern Latina's Guide to Love, Spirituality, Family & La Vida." Find her at http://www.sandraguzman.com.
By Sandra Guzmán, Special to CNN
(CNN) - Imagine if Dear Abby had been a Cuban feminist living in New York's Spanish Harlem.
Imagine she was a lesbian with gravitas, an immigrant rights activist with spunk, sass and a wickedly mischievous sense of humor - and you have Dolores Prida, an advice columnist widely known and beloved in the Latino community.
She died this weekend, at 69, and her dignified and elegant persona, her significance in New York's theater world, its artistic community, Hispanic life, and journalism cannot be overstated, even if you've never heard of her.
An oldest of three children, Ms. Prida, who was born in a Cabairién, Cuba, came to New York City in 1961 with her siblings and parents, and before long worked in the theater.
She would go on to be a playwright, and among the most important plays she wrote was "Beautiful Señoritas," a searing exploration of the role of women in society. It was written two decades ago, but many of the issues that plagued women then, particularly immigrant women, are still being negotiated today: how to balance the desire for a meaningful career with being a mother and wife when you're stuck in traditional, strict, and suffocating gender roles.
She also taught classes at several colleges and wrote political columns for the New York Daily News and El Diario.
But it was in her role as the voice behind Latina magazine's advice column, Dolores Dice, (Dolores Says) where Ms. Prida's generous spirit, lyrical eloquence and playful wit would find its glory.
By Moni Basu, CNN
Atlanta (CNN) – In his second inaugural address, President Barack Obama embraced gay rights as part of America's agenda, saying that "our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law."
Last year, he became the first president to endorse same-sex marriage, and polls showed that he was not out of sync with America. They logged a steep rise in public support for gay and lesbian marriages.
Several states approved same-sex marriage ballot measures. Wisconsin voters elected Tammy Baldwin, as their first openly gay U.S. senator.
The progressive blog Truthout wrote that the trends mean that "conservatives will soon no longer be able to use homophobia as a 'wedge' issue in elections."
But gay rights activists such as Michael Shutt say much work is left to be done, especially in more conservative Southern states that lack anti-discrimination policies and laws. FULL POST
What defines you? Maybe it’s the shade of your skin, the place you grew up, the accent in your words, the make up of your family, the gender you were born with, the intimate relationships you chose to have or your generation? As the American identity changes we will be there to report it. In America is a venue for creative and timely sharing of news that explores who we are. Reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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