Letters to the Editor

Clinton Has Some Explaining to Do

February 25, 2006

To the Editor:

The executive director of ESPA needs to be applauded for his public challenge to Hillary Clinton (“ESPA Blasts Clinton,” by Paul Schindler, Feb 23-Mar. 1). If she does not respond—close the cash register! A legendary ’60s California politician, Jesse Unruh, said, "Money is the mother’s milk of politics". This phrase has never spoken louder than with the Clintons. In 1992, candidate Bill Clinton received millions from the gay community…. we got the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy and the signing of DOMA, quietly at midnight, in 1996. Late in the 2004 presidential campaign and running behind in the polls, John Kerry telephoned Bill Clinton to ask his advice on winning the race. Bill Clinton responded,” Change your position and come out against gay marriage." Mr. Kerry refused.

As Bill Clinton was very fond of saying in his campaigns, "You get two for the price of one." Do we really want the Clintons picking our pockets, again, then promoting whatever policy they need to win? The Clintons are very clever politicians who totally understand the power of money.

Call her out and hold her feet to the fire. If she does not change her position, move on to financially support candidates who are not afraid to, publicly, support full and equal rights for the GLBT community. By continuing to walk in the middle of the road, we will simply get run over, again, again, and again.

Terry Hodge Taylor


Spirituality Among LGBT Blacks

February 23, 2006

To the Editor:

I was heartened to read about Pentecostal Elder Joseph W. Tolton’s efforts to rally LGBT people of African heritage to the cause of marriage equality, and I especially appreciate his resistance to the use of reductive, clinical labels like "MSM" and "SGL" to identify LGBT people of color.

However, Marcus Carlson’s article ("A Pentecostal Drive for Gay Marriage," Feb. 23-Mar. 1) raises a perennial concern: Where are our non-Christian, black LGBT spiritual leaders and adherents? Where are black followers of Afro-Atlantic religions, Buddhism, neopaganism, and any of the hundreds of religious and spiritual colors on the American palette? We’re out here, but it seems that either the inquiring LGBT media rarely finds us or we rarely assert ourselves and make our existence, contributions, and views known. Surely, non-Christians who are black have important perspectives on LGBT reality and strategies for activism around marriage equality and other crucial issues that are not being taken into account.

I’m proud of Elder Tolton, but black religion and spirituality, while widely and historically associated with Christianity, is not solely Christian. Gay City News is to be commended for its attention to our community’s racial and ethnic diversity. It must also be challenged to look around and document the rich spectrum of back LGBT experience.

Eva Yaa Asantewaa

New York City

Don’t Ask the Cost

February 23, 2006

To the Editor:

The recently released report, by a blue ribbon commission of the University of California, regarding the cost of the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy, nearly doubling the estimated cost of DADT discharges from America’s Armed Forces, still does not count the loss of those service members who left in silence (Don’t Ask’s Staggering Costs,” by Stefen Styrsky, Feb. 23-Mar. 1).

The GAO report of 2005 estimated the cost of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell discharges at some $200 million over the previous ten years. The UC report of the past week nearly doubles that estimate when the troop replacement costs are counted. These estimates only count the costs of discharging and replacing those who were caught, those whose identity as gay was revealed. Left uncounted are the many thousands of other gay and lesbian American volunteers who reluctantly left in silence by not reenlisting rather than complete their patriotic careers. Many of these service members were senior NCOs who could no longer live in silence with freedom to be themselves just outside the base gates.

It is difficult to estimate the cost of the years of lost training, leadership, and experience that these senior enlisted service members took with them when they left the Armed Forces in silence, because their numbers are unknown. Add to that the cost of recruiting and training new personnel and then awaiting their maturation and promotion through years of service. The result is yet more wasted resources and ruined lives due purely to a pointless bigoted outdated ideology abandoned by nearly all other civilized free democratic countries.

Denny Meyer

President, American Veterans for Equal Rights-NY

New York City

February 21, 2006

To the Editor:

Under the leadership of Mayor Bloomberg, New York City has made great strides in the fight against HIV/AIDS. In particular, I commend the mayor and his administration for expanding HIV testing and condom distribution and for resolving to reduce AIDS-related deaths in the city by 40 percent by the end of 2008. (“Health Commish Pushes HIV Law Overhaul,” by Duncan Osborne, Feb. 9-15). In order to achieve this goal, however, the administration must ensure that comprehensive HIV prevention programs are offered in all homeless shelters.

There is a direct link between homelessness and an increased incidence of HIV. A recent administration report shows the rate of new HIV diagnoses is 16 times higher among adults in single adult shelters than in the adult population as a whole. Despite this alarming statistic, there is no comprehensive approach to providing HIV testing, condoms, and prevention workshops to this highly vulnerable population. Organizations that perform HIV prevention work do not have regular access to the shelters.

I support the report’s recommendations that the city expand HIV rapid testing at homeless shelters and increase the availability of condoms and prevention information. But I am calling on the Bloomberg administration to go a step further and commit to providing these services at all shelters. With the right policies in place, we can slow the spread of the virus and achieve the mayor’s goal of a 40 percent reduction in AIDS-related deaths.

Betsy Gotbaum

New York City Public Advocate


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