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    July 24, 2008

    Sorry we asked, sorrier she told

    Posted by: Chris

    Elainedonnelly Little news was expected from Congressional hearings today on legislation to repeal the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy that prohibits gays from serving openly in the military. Much like the last hearings held on the subject, way back in 1993, the witness list was pretty much lop-sided.

    Last time around, even though Democrats were in control, then-Sen. Sam Nunn of Georgia, the chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee, worked in bipartisan fashion with bigoted Republicans like Strom Thurmond of South Carolina to put up three or four witnesses opposing President Bill Clinton's campaign promise to repeal the ban on gays in the military for every one who supported it.

    Those gay veterans with the temerity to show up for the hearing were subjected to questioning that was offensive then -- and seems downright loonie now. Thurmond, in particular, would ask in his Southern drawl, "Did you ever seek psiiiichological hep fo' yo' problem?"

    This time around, the comic relief came in the form of Elaine Donnelly, president of the anti-gay Center for Military Readiness. Here's how Dana Milbanks of the Washington Post recounted things:

    Donnelly treated the panel to an extraordinary exhibition of rage. She warned of "transgenders in the military." She warned that lesbians would take pictures of people in the shower. She spoke ominously of gays spreading "HIV positivity" through the ranks.

    "We're talking about real consequences for real people," Donnelly proclaimed. Her written statement added warnings about "inappropriate passive/aggressive actions common in the homosexual community," the prospects of "forcible sodomy" and "exotic forms of sexual expression," and the case of "a group of black lesbians who decided to gang-assault" a fellow soldier.

    At the witness table with Donnelly, retired Navy Capt. Joan Darrah, a lesbian, rolled her eyes in disbelief. Retired Marine Staff Sgt. Eric Alva, a gay man who was wounded in Iraq, looked as if he would explode.

    If reaction from House members was any indication, Donnelly's outlandish arguments only served to undercut her cause:

    Rep. Vic Snyder (D-Ark.) labeled her statement "just bonkers" and "dumb," and he called her claims about an HIV menace "inappropriate." Said Snyder: "By this analysis . . . we ought to recruit only lesbians for the military, because they have the lowest incidence of HIV in the country."

    That said, inane arguments from the right and public support at a remarkable 75 percent aren't enough to motivate Democrats into doing anything more than holding hearings on the repeal bill. Despite repeated promises to the contrary, the election year is already being blamed for the stalled legislation.

    Considering Democrats couldn't manage to pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act or the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Act despite bipartisan majority support in both houses of Congress and overwhelming public support, it's no surprise that they won't touch the third rail of national defense for the sake of us queers.


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    1. tim on Jul 24, 2008 10:06:18 PM:

      Please watch YouTube video of Rep. Patrick Murphy of Pennsylvania, a young Bronze Star veteran who served in Iraq, slicing and dicing Donnelly, who makes her living by fanning the flames of homophobia. Even though she wasn't meant to be (or was she?) the best witness against DADT, Donnelly proved the lunacy of the far right, scapegoating, falsely patriotic fringe attacking GLBT people to bolster their own efforts to get rich by suckering others of their ilk into giving them money while causing great damage to our nation as a whole.

    1. John on Jul 25, 2008 7:16:44 AM:

      In fairness, Chris, this legislation would go nowhere with a president who would veto it. Politicians of all stripes will avoid even the hint of controversy in an election year anyways. Well, at least of course unless it proves to be useful to their campaign. These hearings could help in laying the groundwork for repeal. Look at it this way, the fact that people with liberal or conservative leanings find agreement on this, except for the fringe, means that DADT's days are numbered. Obama would probably sign a bill for repeal and I think McCain could be talked into it as well, though not without some careful political finesse. The real drive for repeal will happen next year when the fallout from this election year has faded. For now, let's get through this cycle and prepare for the coming fight next year.

    1. ksu499 on Jul 25, 2008 8:03:28 AM:

      This episode is exactly why I strenuously object to any attempt censor or silence people like Elaine Donnelly, Laura Schlessinger, or OK legislator Sally Kern. Let them talk. The more they talk, the nuttier, more shrill they sound. Let them talk. The more people who hear them, the better off we are. By all means, challenge their statements, but the marketplace of ideas will eventually blow them into tiny bits.

    1. Kary on Jul 25, 2008 11:33:39 AM:

      Wow. Do we think she is (a) a Republican, or (b) a Democrat? Do we think she is (a) an atheist, or (b) a Muslim, or (c) a Christian, or (d) a Bhuddist?

      As a gay Vietnam Veteran, whose deceased partner was a US Army Colonel, with 30 years service and 3 tours in Vietnam, I am constantly suprised at gay Republicans and gay Christians. Actually, "appalled" is a better word. Why are we even polite to these people? Even the "moderate" ones do very, very little to help gay people. Fuck them. All of them.

    1. Hawyer on Jul 27, 2008 4:11:08 PM:

      Well guys - I watched the entire 2.5 hours DADT hearing replay on C-SPAN this morning:

      1. I was singularly impressed with the passionate anti-DADT testamonies, including a couple of Republicans: particularly Rep. Christopher Shays of Connecticut.

      2. Our Eric Alva was as usual an absolute sweetheart and deserving poster boy of the brutality of the DADT policy. I'd like to take him home and hug him! (But I understand he has a long-term partner!)

      2. The passion and persuasiveness of the anti-DADT contingent massively overbalanced the implacable bigotry of Elaine Donnelly, president of the anti-gay Center for Military Readiness - whose testimony was a grab bag of shopworn cliches, ignorant, and even inflammatory rhetoric, such as the term "passive-aggressive gay behavior" which she trotted out as a pseudoclinical catch-all for the worse figments of the religious right - as opposed to coming out and alleging that gays are compulsive sex fiends who cannot be countenanced in the company of normal soldiers.

      3. The stereotypical gay bogeymen that Ms. Thang Donnelly didn't cover cover were punctuated by Army Sgt. Maj. Brian Jones, who was utterly fixated on recounting his own experience with - I am not making this up - a platoon of men stuck in the cold without proper shelter and clothing - and forced to engage in "skin-to-skin contact" and "cuddling" to keep from freezing - and the need to avoid homoerotic "arousal" in such tableaus. (Without judgment - one could not come away with any other conclusion except that the good Sgt. Maj. came away so traumatized at his homoerotic response to close quarters, that he felt compelled to make sure so one else ever shared his emotions.)

      4. Conclusion as Tim pointed out (above) the anti-DADT witnesses came off as our greatest allies, by dent of their suffocating and pathological bigotry.

      5. Indeed, Rep. Ellen Tauscher (D-California) - the bill's lead sponsor - quipped something to the effect - "For the life of me, I can't figure out why you all (the anti-DADT contingent) are targeting these poor people"

      All - in all - while this is not going anywhere at the moment - I would say a job well done for the warm-up band.

      Good Vids on the major tesamonies:

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