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“The irony of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ is that it protects bigots and punishes gays who comply.”

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Stories from the Frontlines: Letters to President Barack Obama” is a new media campaign launched to underscore the urgent need for congressional action and presidential leadership at this critical point in the fight to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT).  Every weekday morning as we approach the markup of the Defense Authorization bill in the Senate and House Armed Services Committees, SLDN and a coalition of voices supporting repeal, will share an open letter to the President from a person impacted by this discriminatory law.  We are urging the President to include repeal in the Administration’s defense budget recommendations, but also to voice his support as we work to muster the 15 critical votes needed on the Senate Armed Services Committee to include repeal.  The Defense Authorization bill represents the best legislative vehicle to bring repeal to the president’s desk.  It also was the same vehicle used to pass DADT in 1993.  By working together, we can help build momentum to get the votes!  We ask that you forward and post these personal stories.

May 3, 2010

President Barack H. Obama

The White House

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue Northwest

Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President,

After the recent letter by Secretary of Defense Robert Gates recommended the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” be delayed, this is my plea to you on the behalf of the soldiers serving in silence to end this law now:

I never wanted anything more in my life than to be a career officer.  My entire childhood I was exposed to abuse, violence, and crime.  I came out of it all with a simple, yet overwhelming desire to serve.  When my first attempt at getting into the Naval Academy failed, I waited restlessly until I turned eighteen.  I enlisted on my birthday and set off to prove myself to the Academy.  I was eager to leave the cruelty of my past and join a true family.

I knew I was gay, but it was irrelevant to me then.  I was determined to join an elite team of handlers working with dogs trained to detect explosives.  As I studied hard to pass exams and complete training, I was convinced that the current law would protect me.  I knew that based on merit and achievement I would excel in the military.

I never told anyone I was gay.  But a year and a half later while serving in the Middle East, I was tormented by my chief and fellow sailors, physically and emotionally, as they had their suspicions.  The irony of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” is that it protects bigots and punishes gays who comply.

Shop talk in the unit revolved around sex, either the prostitute-filled parties of days past or the escapades my comrades looked forward to.  They interpreted my silence and total lack of interest as an admission of homosexuality.  My higher-ups seemed to think that gave them the right to bind me to chairs, ridicule me, hose me down and lock me in a feces-filled dog kennel.

On one day in the Middle East, I was ordered by a superior to get down on my hands and knees and simulate oral sex on a person working in the kennel.  We were supposed to pretend that we were in our bedroom and that the dogs were catching us in the act.  Over and over, with each of the dogs in our unit, I was forced to endure this scenario.

I told no one about what I was living through.  I feared that reporting the abuse would lead to an investigation into my sexuality.  Frankly, as we continue to delay the repeal of this horrible law, I can’t help but wonder how many people find themselves in similar, despicable situations and remain silent.  My anger today doesn’t come from the abuse, but rather from the inhumanity of a standing law that allowed for it.

Three and a half years later when the Navy started investigating claims of hazing, I had finally earned my place at the Naval Academy Preparatory School.  But instead of celebration, I began to question the life of persecution, degradation, and dishonor DADT had forced on me.  I questioned the institution — our great military — that would condone and endorse this kind of treatment of its own members.  The only thing I had ever done wrong was to want the same thing my straight counterparts wanted: a brotherhood and something to stand for.

At NAPS I realized that a career of service under DADT would be a forfeiture of my basic human rights.  It would be a forfeiture of basic job security, peace of mind, and meaningful relationships, particularly with my fellow straight service members whom I was forced to deceive and betray.

After completing a six-week officer candidate boot camp, my commanders said they wanted to offer me a leadership role.  But after what happened in the Middle East and even the suicide of my close friend, I was mentally and emotionally depleted.  And so — with my knees buckling — I offered my statement of resignation in writing:

“I am a homosexual.  I deeply regret that my personal feelings are not compatible with Naval regulations or policy.  I am proud of my service and had hoped I would be able to serve the Navy and the country for my entire career.  However, the principles of honor, courage and commitment mean I must be honest with myself, courageous in my beliefs, and committed in my action.  I understand that this statement will be used to end my Naval career.”

They say some people are just born designed for military service.  It‘s the way we are wired, and the only thing that makes us happy.  For too many of us, it‘s the only family we ever had.  I am sure now, more than ever, after all the loss and hardship under DADT, that all I want to do is serve as a career military officer.

Mr. President, any delay in repeal is a clear signal to our troops that their gay brothers and sisters in arms are not equal to them.  I plead that you take the lead — fight for repeal — and allow qualified men and women to serve their country.

Very respectfully,

Joseph Christopher Rocha

Former Petty Officer Third Class, U.S. Navy

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News

AOC Slams Anti-Biden Efforts: ‘My Community Does Not Have the Option to Lose’

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U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, one of the most-powerful voices in the House Democratic caucus, re-asserted her support for President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris as some congressional Democrats along with pundits, pollsters, and strategists have called on the President to quit his campaign.

The 34-year-old progressive New York Democrat in a nearly hour-long live video recorded after midnight declared her opposition to those proposing an “open convention,” where the Democratic nominee fro president would be decided, despite the 2024 primaries which Biden and Harris won. She blasted the numerous Democrats anonymously calling for Biden to end his campaign, and slammed those who have little to lose who appear to be behind the movement to oust the President, and those who have already concluded the Democrats cannot win.

“I will say, what upsets me is people saying, ‘we will lose.’ ”

“For me,” she continued, before taking a long, thoughtful pause, “I don’t care who – to a certain extent – I don’t care what name is on there. We are not losing.”

READ MORE: House Dem Leader Hakeem Jeffries and Hispanic Caucus Campaign Arm Rally Behind Biden

“I’m about you, but my community does not have the option to lose. My community does not have the luxury of accepting loss in July,” she said before stressing, “of an election year.”

“Like, my people are the first ones deported. They’re the first ones put in Rikers,” she continued, referring to the infamous New York City jail. “They’re the first ones whose families are killed by war. And this is horrific. I’m not here to like say everything is amazing. Okay, I’m not here to say that like, oh, you know, to lie to people. What I am here to say is that we need to live, we need to make decisions in the conditions that we have before us.”

“Most of the Ocasio-Cortez’s nearly hour-long Live session focused on the risks of forcing Biden to step aside, including potential legal challenges from Republicans and ballot access deadlines in various states. ‘I have not seen a scenario, an alternative scenario, that I feel does not set us up for enormous peril,’ she said,” Business Insider reported.

“If you’re falling out of a coconut tree, God bless you,” she said. “If you’re riding with the President, God bless. I’m not an open-convention person. I think that is crazy.”

READ MORE: ‘Unmitigated Disaster’: Conservatives Stunned by ‘Clinically-Insane Trump Speech’

Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez also made headlines by pointing out that she believes if President Biden were to step aside, Vice President Kamala Harris would also be targeted by some of the same Democrats trying to oust the President.

“I’m just going to say it: If you think that there is consensus among the people who want Joe Biden to leave… that they will support Kamala, Vice President Harris, you would be mistaken,” she added. “They are interested in removing the whole ticket.”

To those Democrats leaking opinions or being quoted anonymously, she had a few strong words.

“That’s b*llsh*t. If you have an opinion, say it with your chest and say it in public,” she said. “That’s a bunch of horsesh*t.”

Her Instagram Live remarks have over 80,000 likes and 6000 comments.

What her full video and the short clip above or at this link.

READ MORE: ‘Stop the Attacks’: 1400 Black Women Leaders Demand DNC Support Biden and Harris

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News

House Dem Leader Hakeem Jeffries and Hispanic Caucus Campaign Arm Rally Behind Biden

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Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, in line to become Speaker if Democrats retake the House in November, Friday morning told reporters the presidential ticket has not changed and he believes President Joe Biden is capable of doing the job and winning re-election.

Jeffries’ remarks come amid calls for President Biden to exit the re-election campaign, largely from the “Democratic machine,” including pundits, strategists, and pollsters, along with some Democratic members of the House and Senate.

“President Biden, as I’ve said repeatedly, is our nominee,” Leader Jeffries said in Brooklyn Friday morning, according to video (below) posted by WNBC-TV managing editor Steven Bognar. “He has a tremendous track record of success. He’s one of the most accomplished American presidents in our history. And, he has the vision, I believe the ability, the capacity and the track record to make a case to the American people that will result in us being successful in November.”

“I’ve answered that question repeatedly over the last three weeks,” Jeffries also told reporters, as NBC 4 reported. “I’ve answered that question repeatedly, my answer has not changed.”

Also Friday morning the congressional arm of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus announced its endorsement of the President’s re-election bid.

READ MORE: ‘Stop the Attacks’: 1400 Black Women Leaders Demand DNC Support Biden and Harris

“The fundraising arm of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, Bold PAC, has endorsed President Joe Biden for re-election, the Biden campaign said in a statement on Friday,” Reuters reports.

Forbes reported last week, “Rep. Steven Horsford, D-Nev., chair of the influential Congressional Black Caucus, expressed support for President Joe Biden, bolstering Biden’s argument that his base is still behind him amid calls for him to step aside in the race.”

Also last week, The Washington Post reported, “Black House Democrats embrace Biden at another critical juncture.”

“The importance of the roughly 60-member Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) — which includes [Rep. James] Clyburn and House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) — was on display Monday night as Biden met with the bloc in a Zoom call, the first with a group of elected lawmakers. The message that many Black Democrats planned to convey to Biden, according to the people familiar with the CBC’s thinking: We will stick by you as we always have.”

READ MORE: ‘Unmitigated Disaster’: Conservatives Stunned by ‘Clinically-Insane Trump Speech’

Congressman Clyburn, who was instrumental in Biden winning the Democratic nomination in 2020, and the election, “has said publicly that he is firmly behind Biden but open to embracing Vice President Harris filling the role if Biden steps aside,” The Post reported.

But while last week the paper noted, “not a single Black House Democrat has defected,” Friday morning one member of the CBC did. U.S. Rep. Marc Veasey (D-TX) became the first member of the Congressional Black Caucus to break ranks, as Punchbowl News’ Max Cohen reported.

MSNBC reports on Friday a total of six members of the U.S. House and one U.S. Senator called on President Biden to exit the race.

Watch video of Democratic Leader Jeffries from Friday below or at this link.

READ MORE: ‘Democratic Machine’ Strategists Behind Move to Oust Biden: Ex-Congressman

 

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OPINION

‘Unmitigated Disaster’: Conservatives Stunned by ‘Clinically-Insane Trump Speech’

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The fourth and final night of the Republican National Convention in Milwaukee on Thursday is being panned by pundits, political strategists, grassroots voters, and even some in the press, as many express shock and condemnation over Donald Trump’s presidential nomination acceptance speech, or, as one critic put it, the “clinically-insane Trump speech.”

Chris Wallace, the former long-time Fox News anchor turned CNN commentator declared he was “disappointed,” and suggested Trump’s 90+ minute speech (transcript) helped President Joe Biden’s re-election campaign.

Trump’s speech got off to a good start, Wallace said, but after awhile the GOP nominee, “couldn’t keep up the act, and so we started hearing about ‘crazy Nancy Pelosi,’ and cheating on elections, and talking about Biden. Frankly, it was a long speech, it was a rambling speech, it was a speech by an older man and I couldn’t help but think that the people who are going to be happiest tonight are not the people at Trump headquarters, but the Democrats, maybe at Biden headquarters, maybe at the headquarters of the people who think they are going to replace Joe Biden, but Jake, we have ourselves a presidential campaign again.”

READ MORE: ‘Stop the Attacks’: 1400 Black Women Leaders Demand DNC Support Biden and Harris

CNN fact-checker Daniel Dale reported Trump delivered at least 22 “falsehoods” during his remarks, including that when he left office, “the world was at peace.”


Even The New York Times, which critics say has often ignored or whitewashed Trump’s worst remarks and weaknesses while focusing on President Biden’s – to the point of calling for Biden’s exit but not Trump’s – ran this headline overnight, invoking the ex-president’s 2017 inauguration speech: “Trump Struggles to Turn the Page on ‘American Carnage’.”

“On the last night of the G.O.P. convention on Thursday, Donald J. Trump promised to bridge political divides, and then returned to delighting in deepening them,” the paper of record reported.

Meanwhile, conservatives – former Republicans and current, Never-Trump Republicans – led the criticism on social media Thursday night and into Friday morning.

The Lincoln Project’s Stuart Stevens, a top political strategist and former Republican, panned Thursday night’s GOP convention: “A man who beat his wife introduced a Republican nominee found liable of sexual assault the judge called rape. And the Republican Party thinks it’s great.”

“I’ve watched thousands of political speeches in thirty years in the business. This was by far the worst,” observed Mike Madrid, the Latino GOP political consultant and Lincoln Project co-founder, calling it “an unmitigated disaster.”

“Is anyone else seeing this with their own eyes?” Madrid asked on social media, referring to Trump’s speech. “Maybe, just maybe, this is what independent voters saw at the debate.”

“The [media’s] gonna call for his withdrawal after witnessing this obvious cognitive decline right?” Madrid also asked.

READ MORE: ‘Democratic Machine’ Strategists Behind Move to Oust Biden: Ex-Congressman

He summed it up in one word: “Fiasco.”

Former Republican U.S. Congressman Denver Riggleman declared: “Media should demand Trump step down based on mental issues and incoherence.”

Fred Wellman, the former Lincoln Project executive director had a few words for top Democratic donors dissatisfied with President Joe Biden: “Hey Democratic big donors! Shut up and get back to work. Jesus. We are going to beat this loser like a drum.”

“The View” co-host Ana Navarro-Cárdenas, a Republican who opposes Donald Trump wrote: “If this clinically-insane Trump speech does not get Democrats out of their defeatist doldrums, and focused and energized around electing their nominee -instead of tearing him down- I don’t know what will.”

She added, “And you all are screaming that Biden has dementia….?”

Former Republican Rick Wilson, an award-winning political TV ad expert and Lincoln Project co-founder decimated Trump’s speech and invoked the nominee’s top campaign chiefs:

“Trump’s speech was, objectively, the single worst convention acceptance speech in modern history. It was a ramblefuck disaster from start to its long-delayed finish, and nothing is going to make it better. You know. I know it. LaCivita and Wiles know it. Utter disaster.”

Former Republican U.S. Congressman Joe Walsh added, “And one more thing: I don’t want to hear anyone in the media talk about Biden’s cognitive decline without also talking about Trump’s cognitive decline. Thanks.”

Republican Sarah Longwell, a political strategist and publisher of the conservative news and opinion site The Bulwark, commented throughout Trump’s speech.

“What would [you] say this speech is about?” she asked toward the end. Minutes earlier she remarked, “Rambling man.” And: “I dunno, this weirdo seems pretty beatable.”

Watch the videos above or at this link.

READ MORE: ‘Have to Stop This Psychopath’: Conway Launches PAC Focused on Trump ‘Mental Instability’

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