So you’ve been a good gay and contacted your senators about repealing “don’t ask don’t tell.” But chances are if you live in Texas you’re not going to be satisfied with their response. You could write them back, but what happens when you just receive the same bullshit form letter response again? This is precisely the dilemma faced by Russell Brown, who contacted us this morning to say that he’s none too happy with Texas Republican Sen. John Cornyn:
“As a member of Ft Worth PFLAG, I have enrolled to receive e-mail alerts from a couple groups,” Brown wrote to Instant Tea. “I signed an online petition and filled out an on-line request forwarded to my congressional representatives favoring the repeal of DADT. I received e-mail form letters and I felt the one received from Sen. Cornyn’s office was insulting and degrading to our gay servicemen and women. I was angered enough that I wrote a two-page letter back to Sen. Cornyn refuting comments he made in his e-mail. I thought it was a good letter. Yesterday in the mail, I received a letter response from Sen. Cornyn’s office thanking me for contacting his office and reiterating the same insulting and degrading message — word for word — that I had received from him earlier by e-mail. Now, I’m even more incensed!”
We sympathize with you, Mr. Brown, and it’s nice to know we have allies like you. We don’t have a solution, but at the very least, we thought we’d go ahead and publish your letter to Cornyn here. Read it below, followed by the form letter.
Dear Senator Cornyn,
I received your e-mail letter regarding our nation’s current Department of Defense policy regarding sexual orientation and military service. I feel compelled to take issue with some of your comments from this letter.
You say this policy has served our nation well, but I have read where our nation has not been able to fulfill recruitment requirements at critical times. At the same time, our military was expelling key personnel because they were discovered to be homosexual. You say, “The linchpin of military readiness lies in maintaining cohesive units consisting of competent, fully trained personnel who share a sense of common purpose and confidence in their unit’s ability to accomplish its mission.” How is our nation served well, how is military readiness served well when we remove persons with important skills fulfilling vital roles because of their sexual orientation? Why is it that you apparently believe that gay individuals are not able to serve our nation in strategic defense? This is an offensive position for you as a public representative of all people in your congressional district to take.
The Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT) policy still discriminates unfairly against gays serving in the military because it does not prevent derogatory comments and assaults against gay personnel. I am aware of one case were a gay serviceman was serving well in his position observing the DADT policy until a superior officer was assigned to his unit who regularly and repeatedly degraded gays. This serviceman had to either endure this officer’s degrading comments or he was forced to reveal his orientation in violation of DADT. This is something that no other minority group would be expected to endure in military service. It is a mistaken policy to maintain it this potential for abuse for gays serving to defend our country and our ideals. These ideals include the tolerance and protection of our differences.
I am also aware that DADT is administered unfairly as service men and women who are discovered to be gay when in the process of being deployed are not processed for discharge until after they return from their deployment. The statistics supporting the phenomenon exist going back all the way to WWII. If gay members of the military are fit for deployment even when they are known to be practicing homosexuals, then they are fit to serve at every other capacity within the military. With this being the case, the DADT policy becomes simply a smoke screen to cover up and institute unfair discrimination against gay serving in the military.
In your letter, you say that the military service chiefs have asked Congress not to act on a repeal of this law before the Pentagon completes a review of the current policy later this year. Yet, I am aware of reports that several of these military chiefs also say the DADT policy is antiquated and needs to be scrapped. Your statements do not accurately reflect these comments and recommendations from top military leaders. This is your own “blatant disregard” as a member of congress to the facts regarding this matter.
You also say, “The United States Government has no higher purpose than keeping the American people safe from harm.” I would agree that this is true of our military but not of our government. The higher purpose of our government is to protect the ideals which this nation was founded on including the ideals of Liberty and Equality. It serves nothing of our nation’s ideals to institutionalize unfair discrimination within any department of government – including the military. The same arguments of readiness with regard to gay service men and women were also made many years ago when the military was compelled to desegregate. Somehow, our nation’s soldiers and sailors were able to transcend this deeply engrained racial division. Why would we not expect that our military would not be able to transcend the incorporation of gay members especially knowing that gays are already able to serve? Many other nations around the world have been able to do so. Israel is recognized as having one of the most able and ready militaries around the world and they are able to incorporate gay service men and women. Why do you have so much less faith in our American military? You say, “Our Armed Forces recruit the finest individuals possible and foster them into world-class Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines,” and I agree. Among these finest individuals possible are gay individuals who love their country – our country. They are able and willing to serve. Able and willing to serve under more adverse conditions than many other recruits because of DADT. They shouldn’t need to have this added burden. We as a nation and you as a government representative should not require this of them.
You say, Senator Cornyn, “My father served in the military for thirty-one years, and I was privileged to grow up around men and women dedicated to protecting our country.” I guarantee that your father served with gay members of the military – whether he knew it or not. I can appreciate when you say, “I remain committed to ensuring that our military is the best-trained, best-equipped force in the world and able to maintain a strong national defense.” I would suggest, however, that supporting DADT undermines your stated commitment since encouraging military personnel to keep personal secrets makes them vulnerable to those who may wish to subvert them. Allowing gay service men and women to serve openly removes this risk.
You say you appreciate my thoughts regarding current military policies, and I hope you are sincere in this statement. Gay Americans are no less patriotic simply because they are gay. They are no less able to serve simply because they are gay. We as Americans need to be appreciative of those willing to commit their time and their lives in the defense of our nation. This includes those members of racial minorities even if we harbor racial prejudices and bigotry. This appreciation ought to include those members of various religions even if we dislike or disagree with teachings of those religions. And, we need to appreciate those of differing sexual orientation even if we dislike or disagree with that orientation. DADT needs to be repealed and it needs to be done sooner than later.
Russell A Brown
Dear Mr. Brown:
Thank you for contacting me about current Department of Defense (DoD) policy regarding sexual orientation and military service. I appreciate having the benefit of your comments on this matter.
As you know, in 1993, Congress passed legislation to codify the existing military “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, which governs homosexuals serving in the Armed Forces. This policy has served our nation well, and I oppose any effort to repeal it. The readiness of our Armed Forces must always be the foremost consideration in any decision regarding military personnel policies, especially as our troops are engaged in two active theaters of conflict.
Furthermore, the four military service chiefs have asked Congress not to act on a repeal of this law before the Pentagon completes a review of the current policy later this year. I am concerned by the blatant disregard that some members of Congress have shown to this request by including provisions in the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2011 (H.R. 5136; S. 3454) that would repeal this law. Therefore, I voted against the motion to proceed to consideration of S. 3454.
The United States Government has no higher purpose than keeping the American people safe from harm. Our national security depends on the ability of our Armed Forces’ to maintain military readiness at all times. The linchpin of military readiness lies in maintaining cohesive units consisting of competent, fully trained personnel who share a sense of common purpose and confidence in their unit’s ability to accomplish its mission. Our Armed Forces recruit the finest individuals possible and foster them into world-class Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines.
My father served in the military for thirty-one years, and I was privileged to grow up around men and women dedicated to protecting our country. As such, I remain committed to ensuring that our military is the best-trained, best-equipped force in the world and able to maintain a strong national defense. I appreciate your thoughts regarding current military policies, and you may be certain that I will keep your views in mind as these matters are discussed. Thank you for taking the time to contact me.
United States Senator