VOLUME 3, ISSUE 350 | Dec. 09 – 15, 2004

Letters to the editor

Why We March

November 22, 2004

To the Editor:

Thank you for the pictures of the American Veterans for Equal Rights New York (AVERNY) contingent in New York City’s Veterans Day Parade.

It should be noted that the main purpose of AVERNY’s very visible participation in the parade—with rainbow flags flying proudly and pink triangles on our chests—was to highlight the need to end the discriminatory “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy that bans lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered (LGBT) people from serving openly in the U.S. military.

“Witch hunts,” harassment and discharges of LGBT servicemembers continues even now during wartime. And because of this hateful archaic policy, LGBT servicemembers in combat zones are denied the opportunity to receive the kind of messages of support from their loved ones back home that other servicemembers rely on and take for granted.

Yet all the evidence, as confirmed by scientific studies, proves that while LGBT people serve with great distinction and bravery, it is the discriminatory anti-LGBT policy itself that imperils unit cohesion, morale and mission accomplishment.

AVERNY will keep on marching—right in the Establishment’s face—until the ban on LGBT people serving openly is repealed.

Joe Kennedy

U.S. Army Vietnam veteran Vice president, AVERNY Discourse, Civil and Otherwise

Dec. 8, 2004

To the Editor:

As a panelist at the November 18 town meeting at the New York LGBT Community Center, I would like to respond to the events of the evening (“Second Post-Election Meeting Fizzles,” by Duncan Osborne, Nov. 25-Dec. 1).

While there may have been legitimate concerns about the structure and content of the evening’s program, these concerns were not expressed in a collegial way.

One of four panelists, Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum of the Congregation Beth Simchat Torah spoke for the many in the LGBT community who are religious. Referring to the so-called “moral values” vote, she challenged the religious right’s claim to a monopoly on morality. She spoke of the ethical and spiritual values that she and members of her congregation share. Perhaps her speech “sounded like a sermon”—that’s not surprising coming from a member of the clergy.

A minute or two into her talk, several audience members interrupted the rabbi. “What’s all this God shit?” one shouted. “Not everyone believes in God!” another noted. Others started critiquing the structure of the event—that it wasn’t what it had been advertised to be, etc. Throughout this incident, I found the behavior and tone of a few in the audience deeply disturbing.

How often do lesbian rabbis get a platform to speak in our community? Hardly ever. Given the ascendancy of the religious/Christian right in the United States, isn’t it more important than ever that we support progressive voices of gay people of faith, especially Jewish and other non-Christian religious leaders?

Congregation Beth Simchat Torah is an important and large LGBT congregation. Many members of our community are members there. Can we not listen to our community’s leading rabbi, respectfully, for five minutes? If members of the audience had problems with the structure or content of this public event at the LGBT Community Center, there are appropriate ways to provide constructive criticism. Booing and hissing, interrupting and shouting people down—these are not appropriate ways to express our disagreements.

Gandhi urged us to “be the change we want to see in the world.” If we want tolerance and compassion from others, at a minimum we have to treat one another with tolerance and compassion as well.

Sean Cahill

Director, Policy Institute National Gay and Lesbian Task Force

Backlash Wears Many Guises

November 27, 2004

To the Editor:

Duncan Osborne’s recent series of articles about gays who have been demonized because they engage in or are accused of engaging in activities deemed depraved, culminated last week with a superb criticism of the “20/20” piece on Matthew Shepherd (“Trashing Matthew Shepard, Nov. 25-Dec. 1).

Osborne reveals how the phenomenon of cultural revisionism will work in our new state of Republican Ascendancy. If Shepherd was once the icon for the dangers of homophobia, “20/20” has shifted the focus to the evils of crystal meth, beginning the equivocation process that deems Shepherd culpable in his own murder, and McKinney a victim as his murderer.

Osborne’s articles on the “Scarlet Letter” policies of the federal government (“Wanted: Gay and Tweaked,” Nov. 4-10) and the policing techniques used to embarrass and entrap gays in toilets (“Cops Entrapment Scheme Busted,” Nov. 25-Dec. 1) are part and parcel of the same theme.

Osborne should be congratulated for exposing the renewal of faggotization.

Brendan Keane



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