TO MY REPUBLICAN FRIENDS

One of the things you believe (‘don’t tell me what I believe!’) (‘okay, but if you don’t believe this, and so many of the other Republican positions, why not consider yourself an independent?’), is that gay Americans should not be allowed to serve in the military.

My friend Aaron Belkin, who runs the Center for the Study of Sexual Minorities in the Military, thinks you’re on the wrong side of this one. Change is inevitable, he thinks. Polls show that 60% of the public now favor repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.’

That may not surprise you.

But did you know that last year’s winning senior thesis at West Point argued for allowing gays and lesbians to serve without hiding their identity?

Did you know that we are practically alone among our NATO allies in not allowing gays to serve openly?

Did you know that in Britain, according to the New York Times, the Royal Navy has called on a gay rights group to help recruit gay sailors?

Did you know that our own military has allowed tens of thousands of convicted felons and drug abusers to enlist in recent years?

Which, done smart, is probably a good thing – people deserve a second chance, and the military often does a terrific job of molding character. But, gee . . . as we search for the best available talent to keep us strong, should we really exclude people like Justin Hager, 20, ‘a self-described Republican from a military family’ gung-ho to enlist?

Republicans who think we’re making a mistake in excluding Justin Hager should ask why only 5 Republicans in the House have joined the 114 Democrats who currently co-sponsor a bill to lift the ban. And then they should consider relabeling themselves Independents.

Republicans who think it’s a mistake to cut all federal ties with universities that conduct stem cell research should consider relabeling themselves Independents.

Republicans who think it’s a mistake to have amassed $10 trillion of National Debt by the time the White House changes hands in 2009 – of which fully $8 trillion, since our nation’s founding, will have been racked up under just three presidents, Reagan, Bush and Bush – should consider relabeling themselves Independents.

Republicans who think it’s a mistake to have misled so many Americans into thinking Iraq was an ally of Al-Qaeda should consider relabeling themselves Independents.

Republicans who think it was a mistake to reconvene Congress in special session to interfere in the Terry Schiavo case – trumping her doctors, her husband, and the courts – should consider relabeling themselves Independents.

Republicans who understand that the whole point of America is that you can burn her flag without fear of arrest – which is why almost none of us ever would – should consider relabeling themselves Independents.

Have a great weekend. Send in your third quarter estimated tax. Don’t sell your FMD.

 

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