Curmudgeonly Alaskan senator doesn’t stand a chance of winning, but he deserves support for his supportive stance on LGBT issues
Mike Gravel saved my life. Literally. I’d probably be maimed or dead now if it weren’t for this man.
In 1971, my year to be called for the draft, student deferments had been eliminated. Sen. Gravel alone filibustered the Senate during the funding debate for the Vietnam War. After a standoff, Nixon did away with the draft before Gravel ended his filibuster.
What about gays in the military? At the time, I was counseled that it would not be accepted as an excuse. Until the recent right wing witch hunts, gays were always welcomed in the military during times of war. Purges only begin immediately after peace treaties.
During World War II, a professor of mine worked in the Army’s Washington office that cracked the Nazi codes. He, along with most of his team, was gay. As soon as the war ended, they were unceremoniously discharged.
So had I been called, I would have been drafted. Draftees were the first sent to Vietnam.
Today, Gravel continues to stand up for me.
Of the Democrats running, Gravel stands alone in fully supporting rights for gays and lesbians not that you’d know it from his exclusion by the Human Rights Campaign from their candidate debate. Was HRC afraid he’d say something on camera that Obama, Edwards and Clinton wouldn’t?
Gravel is for gay marriage. In his typically curmudgeonly way, he has asked how the hell extending civil rights to everyone would hurt his marriage or anyone else’s. The others skirt the issue with tepid support for civil unions.
While Clinton refuses to say that her husband’s “Don’t ask, don’t tell” was a mistake, Gravel calls for its end.
After Gen. Peter Pace called homosexuality immoral in his recent congressional testimony, Gravel called for his removal.
And Gravel marched proudly in the San Francisco gay Pride parade. He supports LGBT inclusion in hate crimes legislation and opposes DOMA and “any state or national constitutional amendment that restricts the rights of the gay community,” according to his official Web site.
Gravel says, “As long as our nation deprives gays and lesbians of basic rights, including marriage, we have not fulfilled the promise of the Declaration of Independence guaranteeing life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness to all Americans.”
On other issues, Gravel is equally blunt. He believes global climate change should be addressed as a national security issue. He believes every citizen is entitled to health care. He opposes torture, believes a prisoner has a right to an attorney and a speedy trial. How sad that those basic, American values have become controversial.
And he’s also the only candidate to call for the immediate impeachment of Bush and Cheney.
Last election, Democrats voted for the candidate they thought everyone else liked. What we got was a candidate that no one really wanted.
This year, in the general election, I’ll support the eventual Democratic nominee. In the primary, though, I’ll say thank you to the man who saved my life and the only candidate to unequivocally stand up for my rights.
How? By giving him my vote.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition February 1, 2008
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