Sunday, February 07, 2010

 
My record when sending comments or protests to elected officials is consistent -- I get a form note back thanking me so much for my concern, followed by a boilerplate statement detailing the politician's stand on the subject so that there's no doubt anything is going to change.

Nevertheless. I went to Senator John McCain's site today and followed the link to comment. A list of headings was provided, it being necessary to choose one before the comment would be accepted. While abortion/family planning was on the list, none of the headings dealt with gay rights, DADT, hate crime laws, or any LGBT issue. I selected the one called "not shown" and wrote the following:

Dear Senator McCain:

I am writing in regard to your recent statement during the hearings on the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell. In the introduction to your comments, you said, "Many gay and lesbian Americans are serving admirably in our armed forces – even giving their lives so that we and others can know the blessings of peace. I honor their sacrifice, and I honor them."

You then went on to uphold what you yourself describe as a flawed policy, one that can lead to summary dismissal of those same gays and lesbians from the armed services should someone discover that they ARE gay or lesbian -- from admirable to pariah in an instant.

You admit, Senator, that these gays and lesbians are in the armed forces NOW (and we know from their writings and the writings of others that they have served for decades and probably for over two centuries back to the American Revolution) -- where was the lack of cohesion in Iraq, Afghanistan, Kuwait, Viet Nam, Korea, WWII, WWI, The Spanish American and Civil Wars, 1812, the Revolution?

As to the concern over straight and gay personnel in intimate spaces, they've been together in those spaces, those showers, those perilous situations for the same two or more centuries; why is this suddenly a crisis now? You will have served with many gays and lesbians in Viet Nam, many of whom were prisoners of war who endured tortures and deprivations similar to yours -- were they any less heroic and admirable for being gay?

The last big scandal I recall in the armed forces was Tailhook, a strictly heterosexual affair:

April 1992
The Inspector General and the Naval Investigative Service issues a 2000 page report vividly detailing a drunken scene at Tailhook '91 where dozens of women were accosted and sexually molested. The report provoked more outrage and a call for more investigation.

In August of 1992 the Pentagon's Inspector General launched a set of investigations.

September 1992
The Pentagon's Inspector General issues a very critical report on the Navy's inquiry saying senior Navy officials deliberately undermined their own investigation to avoid bad publicity, and ignored the participation of senior officers at Tailhook

April 1993
The second part of the Pentagon's Inspector General report was issued and stated that the investigative files of at least 140 officers were being referred to the military services for possible disciplinary action for indecent exposure, assault, conduct unbecoming an officer and lying to Pentagon investigators under oath.
-from PBS.org

Not pretty, is it? All involved were heterosexual, including Navy officers who covered up, and interfered with the investigation.

Senator you are on record as having said that if the Joint Chiefs of Staff came out in favor of repealing DADT you would follow their lead. They have been joined by the Secretary of Defense, A Republican appointee, I note. I do hope you will keep your promise, that you will REALLY "honor their sacrifice, and...honor them" rather than accepting their sacrifices, including their lives, but abandoning them, allowing them to be thrown out like trash when the sexual orientation with which they were born is revealed. They are no less United States citizens, no less loyal and dedicated Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine, National Guard and Coast Guard personnel. Like all members of the armed services, they are our nation's pride.

William F______
Faculty, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
1975-2007

I haven't the slightest idea if he'll even see it. I just had to do it.

Comments:
Hi Will. I see from your opening paragraph that you've written to Judd Gregg as well. And, if he doesn't have a template response, he just doesn't send any at all. He's infuriating.
 
Great letter, Will! I laughed at your description of the standard response to your letters to elected officials. I just emailed my Virginia state senator last week regarding a nondiscrimination bill for state employees, and I got exactly what you described in return. She loves gay people, she hires gay people, she has gay family members (and actually, I think all of that is true) - but for some unexplained reason she doesn't find it appropriate to specify in law that we not be discriminated against in employment. Go figure!
 
Oh yes, Thom--the old "some of my best friends are gay" defense.

Stan--yes he is, as is our personal state senator down here in Raymond, Jack Barnes. Total homophobe and utterly unresponsive.
 
I am very glad there are people like you who do this.
You set a good example. Perhaps if more did so, there may be change. Maybe. I get discouraged.
 
That's a wonderful letter. It puts him on the spot, but he probably have skin like a pachyderm.
 
I, too, have been frustrated my very similar responses. Its as if they're saying "I hear you, but I'm not listening to you."
 
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