Update: Now It’s Warner’s Turn
Update: Senator Mark Warner’s office contacted GayRVA with the following statement - Senator Warner supports repeal of “don’t ask don’t tell” in an orderly way, working with members of the uniformed services and our military leadership.
Many people have worked hard to persuade Virginia’s senior U.S. Senator, Jim Webb, to vote to repeal Don’t Ask Don’t Tell (DADT). Initially, the efforts were focused on Senator Webb as a member of Armed Services Committee. Now, the full Senate is moving toward a vote, and the focus is also on Virginia’s junior Senator, Mark Warner.
Various sources indicate that Warner is on the fence. This feels surprising given his efforts while Governor for LGBT people in Virginia, and his support of hate crimes and employment non-discrimination legislation in the Senate.
Clearly, he needs to hear from Virginia folks who support the full inclusion of LGBT people in our armed forces. You can contact him via email at http://warner.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?p=Contact or call his Washington office at 202/224-2023. You can also utilize one website to send a message to both senators: http://webbandwarner.org/
Second, is the Pentagon-sponsored survey of troops about attitudes toward DADT. This is part of the process that Secretary Gates and Senator Webb contend are necessary before repeal is considered.
I share the view of Service Members United and others that the survey is not well-designed—if the intent is to create an unbiased look at attitudes among personnel. You can view the entire survey at http://www.servicemembersunited.org/survey and decide for yourself.
I am somewhat comforted by statements from Secretary Gates that the policy needs to be repealed and that the survey is not about “whether” to repeal but “how.” Still, there are several significant problems with the survey.
First, there is an overarching assumption that service personnel will experience problems if DADT is repealed. There is no question, for example, dealing with how currently closeted service personnel might feel, and perform, if repeal happens—and how that might positively impact unit cohesion and performance.
Second, there seems to be an undue emphasis on the possibility that morality will be compromised, and that personnel will need to have extra confidence that someone they can trust will protect them.
Third, the survey persists in using the term “homosexual.” Even though the survey writers contend that this term is interchangeable with the term “gay and lesbian” in the survey, this usage contradicts current widespread practice among social scientists, and plays into older stereotypes.
All of this is very disturbing—because the survey may well inflame or harden current negative attitudes. I plan to write to Secretary Gates to express my concern, but a search of the Department of Defense webpage yielded no way for me, as a citizen, to contact him easily. So, I will write him at 1400 Defense Pentagon, Washington, DC 20301-1400. I will thank him for supporting repeal, and ask him to give the survey results the limited consideration such a biased instrument deserves.
Our work is not done. This change will not come without a lot of sweat and hard work. Please write or call today.
Rev. Dr. Robin H. Gorsline is President of People of Faith for Equality in Virginia, an interfaith organization of gay and straight clergy and lay people working for equality for LGBT Virginians. Read more of his thoughts on faith and spirituality on his personal blog.
“People truly came out and celebrated who and what they are. It was amazing.”September 26, 2016
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