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Magazine Features in this issue:
Switzerland's Capital Cool
Prop 8 trial set to resume in mid-June
Gays speak out against Arizona
A league of their own?
Not just a riot
Northern Latitudes
An about-face over Don't Ask¸ Don't Tell?
 Magazine Feature Features Archive  
June 2010 Email this to a friend
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An about-face over Don't Ask, Don't Tell?

By Rex Wockner

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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 Petraeus.
"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 recognizance.

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