Magazine Features in this issue:
Five protesters staged a sit-in outside the Phoenix office of US
Senator John McCain last month, demanding he explain his about-face on
the military"s Don"t Ask, Don"t Tell policy.
Five members of Human & Equal Rights Organizers -- Meg Sneed,
Jimmy Gruender, Lee Walters, Luisa Valdez and Lonnie Allen
Howard-Stidham -- had refused to leave the office until McCain spoke
with them about Howard-Stidham's 2007 discharge from the Coast Guard
under Don't Ask, Don't Tell.
The group said it would not leave McCain's office until the
senator spoke with them. They wanted to challenge him on his wavering
stance on the repeal of Don"t Ask, Don"t Tell. In 2006 the senator
said, "The day that the leadership of the military comes to me and
says, "Senator, we ought to change the policy," then I think we ought
to consider seriously changing it."
McCain has since backed away from that pledge. He refused to meet
with the protesters.
Key military leaders now support repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell.
They include Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, Joint Chiefs of Staff
Chairman Admiral Michael Mullen and US Central Command head Gen David
"If given the opportunity, I would reenlist in a heartbeat, I
wouldn't even think twice," Howard-Stidham wrote in an open letter to
McCain. "I love this country more than anything. I am asking to meet
with you... so you can put a face to this devastating law."
GetEQUAL, the new gay direct-action group that has targeted
President Barack Obama and Congress in a series of civil disobedience
actions, praised the Phoenix demo.
"We stand in solidarity with First Class Petty Officer
Howard-Stidham and his friends who were arrested for the cause," said
GetEQUAL co-founder Robin McGehee. "Over the course of the last couple
of weeks, GetEQUAL has been contacted by grassroots activists across
the country looking for resources and logistical support for local
actions. We have encouraged everyone to hold their local organizations
and elected officials accountable and plan to do more in the states in
the months to come."
McGehee said figuring out "how to knit together the great
activists all across the US who want to fight back" is one of the new
group's biggest -challenges.
The Phoenix protesters were cited and released on their own
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