Anti-war activist and LGBT ally Cindy Sheehan takes controversial position on DADT repeal

Cindy Sheehan

Activist Cindy Sheehan came out against the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell.” Sort of.

Ever since I first met Cindy Sheehan in 2004, she has been controversial. She was the first Gold Star Mom — the mother of a fallen soldier — to come out publicly against the war in Iraq. When I interviewed her then, I asked what her goal was. At the time, her main focus was that what happened to her shouldn’t happen to another mother.

She rapidly became the center of the small anti-war movement. For her efforts, she was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize.

After she demanded a meeting with President George Bush, who refused to meet with her or any other Gold Star Mom, she camped out in a ditch off Prairie Chapel Road outside the Bush “ranch” in Crawford, about 19 miles from Waco.

“Camp Casey,” named after her son who was killed, moved from the ditch to Bush’s backdoor neighbor’s property. That neighbor couldn’t stand the president or his policies either.

In today’s Al Jezeera, Sheehan wrote, “Don’t go, don’t kill.” She makes the interesting argument that the gay rights movement, which is a human rights movement, shouldn’t measure progress based on anything related to the military. She emphasizes that she is as much a marriage-equality advocate as she is a peace activist.

She reasonably asks whether enacting the bill “is going to stop the current systemic harassment of gays in the military?”

Her choice of forum is as controversial as she is. Her opinion is interesting and worth debating. She’s really saying — of course gays and lesbians should be allowed to serve. And now that you have the right, don’t do it.

When Sheehan was in Dallas for the protest against the groundbreaking of the Bush Library, she told me she’s thinking of a run for president. She promised we’d be among the first to know when she makes her decision.

—  David Taffet

Gays join protest of Bush library groundbreaking

Rick Vanderslice

About 100 people gathered to protest the groundbreaking of the George Bush Library on the Southern Methodist University campus this morning.

Members of the LGBT community were among the organizers. Other protesters came to Dallas from around the country.

Among the protesters was Cindy Sheehan, who became the face of the anti-war movement after the death of her son Casey in Iraq in 2004.

A march began at about 9:30 a.m. at Mockingbird Station and ended on the SMU campus outside Ford Stadium near Mockingbird Lane and Airline Drive. Many were dressed in black with white masks representing soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan during the Bush administration.

Five different police forces kept protesters and counter-protesters apart. The march began in Dallas, crossed into Highland Park and ended on campus in University Park. SMU campus police also were on hand.

The groundbreaking was held several blocks away and protesters were not allowed anywhere near the dignitaries, who included  the Bushes and Cheneys. Sheriff’s department officers guarded that ceremony in riot gear with shields and batons. Only pre-approved guests and media were allowed near the library site.

However, pro-Bush counter-protesters were allowed to mingle on the outskirts of the anti-Bush crowd.

Local speakers were mostly from the LGBT community.

Aaron Rathbun dressed in a graduation cap and gown and held a sign on stage that read, “Bush failed us.”

Radio host and Queer LiberAction activist Rick Vanderslice led some of the chanting and was one of the speakers. He echoed the event’s “Arrest Bush” theme.

Vanderslice said the policy institute is being built to justify the policies of the Bush administration. He said this can’t be allowed to happen and called them war criminals who should be arrested and brought to justice.

“We can get them,” he said.

“Millions of lives have been ruined because of irresponsible foreign policy,” said Charles Grand, a speaker from the Socialist Workers Party.

Grand said he was happy with the number of people attending since the protest took place during a workday.

Sheehan explained why she had traveled to Dallas from her home in California for the event.

“You can’t put a bloom on that lily,” she said. “He wasn’t a good person. He wasn’t a good president. We can’t let him rewrite history.”

Other speakers included Time magazine 2002 person of the year Colleen Rowley, Code Pink founder Medea Benjamin and Col. Ann Wright, who spent 29 years in the military followed by 16 years as a diplomat and resigned her post to protest Bush administration policy.

State Rep. Lon Burnham from Tarrant County was scheduled to speak but was held up by an airline delay.

The museum and library will open in 2013. The policy center is already operating in offices in Preston Center.

Dressed as death, a number of protesters, including Time person of the year Colleen Rowley, marched to the groundbreaking but were turned back

—  David Taffet