After Thwarted Kidnapping Plans, Whitmer Calls for Unity

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer addressed the State of Michigan after a plan to kidnap her and other Michigan government officials was thwarted by state and federal law enforcement agencies. She started by saying thank you to law enforcement and FBI agents who participated in stopping this [...]

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GAYS ON THE WAR

By |2003-04-03T09:00:00-05:00April 3rd, 2003|Uncategorized|

By Rex Wockner

All news is war news now. Resistance is futile. I contacted numerous gay leaders, gay politicians and gay VIPs for their perspective. A few agreed to be quoted.

Elizabeth Birch, executive director of the Human Rights Campaign: “The Human Rights Campaign has no formal position on the war. We truly view it as beyond our mission. On a personal basis I have been haunted by the images of so many losing their lives. Every slaughter of a human being – whether Iraqi, British or American – is searing and devastating. I spend a great deal of time thinking about the gay and lesbian soldiers who are risking their lives in this battle while living under a kind of ‘verbal burka.’ ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ is alive and well and, in many ways, it remains as cruel as it is unworkable. As we purport to bring democracy to other lands, we would do well to examine a policy that is inhumane to our gay and lesbian service members.”

Lorri Jean, executive director of the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force: “As someone who loves this country and the aspirations of liberty upon which it was founded, I find this war to be extremely disturbing. The craven, selfish actions of political leaders on both sides are causing the deaths of many innocent people. This should not be possible in 2003. But, I am far more disturbed by the domestic actions that the Bush Administration is taking under the guise of war – actions to curb our constitutional rights and civil liberties; actions that threaten the very bedrock of our democratic society; actions which certainly threaten the GLBT community and our fight for freedom. I worry about the fate of our nation and, particularly, GLBT people in this environment. I deeply and sincerely hope that the too-silent majority will rise up against this Administration that thinks it is a law unto itself.”

Andrew Sullivan, author: “This war is a direct product of U.N. resolutions calling for the disarmament of Saddam as a condition of the truce at the end of the 1991 war. It is also a result of Bill Clinton’s decision in 1998 to change U.S. policy toward regime change in Iraq rather than containment. He was right to do so and I don’t recall gay leaders criticizing him when he did. It’s a war to rid ourselves of a direct threat of weapons of mass destruction in the hands of terrorists, and to rid the world of a vile and murderous dictator. I’m stunned that so many gay ‘leaders’ effectively support a homophobic fascist dictator rather than a Republican president. Sadly, it says a lot about their priorities and their loss of a moral compass.”

Faisal Alam, founder and director of Al-Fatiha Foundation (LGBTIQ Muslims): “I’m scared, anxious, angry and afraid. Scared, because extremism in all forms is rising around the world, and the next terrorist attack could be in Washington D.C., where I live. Anxious, because I’m worried about my family and relatives who live abroad. Angry, at our president who’s convinced that the world is out to get him and that death and destruction are the only ways to stay safe. And I’m afraid, that this war is only increasing anti-Muslim, anti-Arab and anti-immigrant sentiments in the United States.”

Patrick Guerriero, executive director of the Log Cabin Republicans: “Like most Americans, I support Operation Iraqi Freedom, the U.S. war on terrorism, President Bush and most importantly, the courageous men and women in the U.S. and coalition armed forces. I also pray for a swift end to the violence of war and hope for a path towards peace in the world, particularly in the Middle East. In 2003 the United States has the difficult but necessary responsibility to counter evil dictators who deny personal rights and freedom to citizens, repeatedly snub United Nations resolutions, have the capacity to manufacture and desire to use weapons of mass destruction, and have a history of invading neighboring nations and using chemical weapons to kill ethnic minorities.”

Troy Perry, founder of the Metropolitan Community Church: “Many MCC members are firmly opposed to the actions of the coalition partners while still others believe these actions will end a nation’s oppression and prevent even greater loss of life. … I personally believe the United States and Great Britain should have worked in concert with the family of nations – and were wrong not to have obtained a final U.N. resolution. At the same time, I am also distressed that the president of Iraq has murdered his own people and oppressed his nation, while fanning the flames of religious and ethnic hatreds. As a person of faith, I believe justice is the path that leads to peace.”

David Bianco, founder of Q Syndicate: “I support the President. I do not believe we need to topple any government ruled by a tyrant, but I believe we can and should topple those tyrants who are bent on destroying us and who actively pursue the means to do so.”

Kursad Kahramanoglu, co-secretary general of the International Lesbian & Gay Association: “The Iraqi situation is a family tragedy, first created by Saddam’s [family] then by Bush’s. I recognize the U.S.A. as the only superpower around the world. The Roman Empire of our times you may say. I regret however that this great nation which set many fine examples of freedom and civilization, led by an unelected born-again Christian, chose to resolve a problem of this world exactly as the past world empires have done. By brute force, illegally and immorally. Like millions of people around the world I am not convinced on balance that the world will be a better place after all the destruction and ill will this illegal invasion of Iraq will create – even if they manage to get rid of the Iraqi dictator. What hope is there for any one of us who is fighting for human rights and equality when brute force, death and destruction can be presented as the vehicles to achieve liberty and freedom? In its zealousness to stamp our times, the superpower of our times missed a colossal opportunity on behalf of the human race. It could have bucked the trend and let enlightenment be its legacy rather than going down in history like any other imperial power.”

David Mixner, Friend Of Bill: “I don’t doubt that Saddam has chemical weapons or will use them. To me, that is not the debate. What we should be discussing is the radical change from a consensus among our political parties and allies toward our foreign policy of the last 50 years. This new Bush doctrine of preemptive strikes is very hard to support. In the long run, this war will do more damage than good.”

Joan Garry, executive director of the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation: “I’m frightened that I have a garbage can in my garage filled with three days’ of supplies for my family. I’m sad that my 8-year-old son sobbed last week, stating, ‘I’m going to be recruited for the war.’ I’m stunned that airplay of the Dixie Chicks dropped 30 percent last week after a member of the band expressed her point of view about the war. I’m deeply troubled about how this intolerant environment will strangle the civil liberties of all minorities.”

Tom Duane, New York state senator: “I am totally opposed to the war. I was the only elected official to attend and speak out at the first New York City anti-war rally last fall. I believe the war is immoral and illegal and I hope for an immediate end to it, a quick and safe return of our soldiers and an immediate end to the terrible violence perpetrated against the Iraqi people.”

Michelangelo Signorile, author: “Bush, Powell and the gang have lied through their teeth. Yeah, Saddam is a brutal dictator — but so is Robert Mugabe, though there are no plans to invade Zimbabwe. Call me crazy, but I just don’t believe mad dog Rummy’s purpose in life is to liberate the downtrodden. This war – and Saddam – have absolutely nothing to do with 9/11 either. The plan was devised by far-right hawks in the White House long ago – 10 years back, actually – and 9/11 simply gave them their ticket to finally create the American Empire they’d only dreamed about.
Meanwhile, they couldn’t even do it right, and have now gotten the majority of the world against us, bumbling idiots that they are. We’re going to be paying for this one long after Dick Cheney’s heart conks out, including with more terrorist attacks.”

Anna Leah Sarabia, co-secretary general of the International Lesbian & Gay Association: “The rulers of so many nations still want to drag us back into the age of blood and darkness. The bully boss of the country with the world’s most fearsome military arsenal decided to prove he’s the most alpha-male of them all, called in his gang to invade the country of another bully boss, and tried to make everyone believe he’s defending himself in a clean and just war. Unfortunately, because of the cold technology
involved, and because the violence has been projected by the American mainstream media as some kind of game of hide-and-seek, most of us cannot imagine the horrors this invasion will bring upon us all. I am talking not just about the possible repercussions from Saddam’s sympathizers. I am also talking about how human reason and human rights may be trampled on by those who think they are right and have the power to prove it.”

Alison Bechdel, cartoonist, Dykes To Watch Out For: “I feel the way I imagine a small child might who finds herself strapped in the back seat while her father does 120 mph [192 kph] down the wrong side of the interstate.”

Michael Musto, columnist, The Village Voice: “The war is a trumped-up excuse for us to once again play international bully and for Dubya – who hasn’t lived up to his promise to blow Bin Laden out of his foxhole – to get ‘someone.’ Appealing to the populace’s bloodlust and paranoia, the war’s been played out amidst overhyped orange alerts and overplayed fears that Saddam has weapons of mass destruction. (But if he did, wouldn’t he have used them last week?) Of course people who articulate thoughts like these get labeled unpatriotic, but nothing could be more flagwaving than invoking the right to free expression and the desire for world peace. Even Oscar winners think so!”

Toni Atkins, San Diego city councilor: “Having had a father, two brothers and a sister who have served in the U.S. Armed Forces, I understand first-hand how war affects the families of service members. So while I don’t personally feel we should be going to war with Iraq without the support of the U.N. Security Council, I strongly support our troops, and hope for their quick and safe return.”

Dan Savage, author and columnist: “Bush is a dolt and a disaster and he’s leading the economy off the cliff. [But] I agree with Bush on the war. And I hope lefties will protest in the streets in an effort to hold Bush & Co. to the promises that they’ve made to the Iraqi people, i.e. rebuilding, in for the long haul, democratization. … We’ve got to finish the war and follow through with aid and forge a just peace. That means we should be protesting over how this war is conducted, not whether it’s conducted. It’s being conducted so ‘no war’ is off the table.”

Gabriel Rotello, author: “The greatest challenges the world faces are overpopulation, the environment and the distribution of wealth. These things can only be addressed through international bodies and by international laws evolving toward a cooperative, democratic global government. The United Nations is the embodiment of that evolution. Anything that strengthens that institution is good, anything that undermines it is bad. This war, and American unilateralism in general, deeply undermines it. We are therefore rapidly becoming the greatest force arresting the world’s evolution towards a sane, safe, cooperative future. That’s very bad. And besides, people are getting killed.”

Robin Tyler, veteran activist and comedian: “The question is always, ‘Are you anti-war or pro-war?’ I refuse to choose between those two narrow definitions.
I am anti-genocide. It is not nearly enough to march in the streets and call for an end to war. We must, as people of conscience, protest and fight for the end of dictators who slaughter their own people. … Unless we have the courage to rise up against all of the slaughter of innocents in this world, the chant for peace without the insistence of justice is hollow.”

Sean Strub, founder of POZ magazine: “The shame and horrific responsibility I feel as an American is only partially offset by the brave and courageous voices of peace which we have occasionally heard in recent weeks, however too few and futile they might be. …
What is unclear is where the soul of our community is going to be found. Is it in the pseudo-patriotism of assimilative sentiment, as reflected all too clearly in the Bush-supporting Log Cabin Club-esque statements, as well as the incriminating silence, of so much of our community’s leadership? Or will it be found in the courage of lonely protest, the commitment of personal example and the conviction of faith in the power of love?”

About the Author:

BTL Staff
Between The Lines has been publishing LGBTQ-related content in Southeast Michigan since the early '90s. This year marks the publication's 27th anniversary.