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Dear Mr. President, They Called Me “Vapor”

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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 4, 2010

President Barack H. Obama

The White House

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue Northwest

Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President,

They called me “vapor” —

As a little boy, I always had an interest in serving in the U.S. military.  Both my grandfathers served in the Korean conflict, an uncle in Vietnam and I soon became the first of my generation to serve, followed by my brother and a few of my cousins.

After entering the Air Force in February of 2001, I eventually was promoted to Staff Sergeant.  Although successful in my job as a Precision Measurement Equipment Laboratory (PMEL) technician, I was still coming to terms of being a gay man.

I struggled with my faith that told me it was a sin.  I couldn‘t talk to the Chaplain Corps because I had read about gays being discharged after coming out to a chaplain.  And so, I continued to internalize my struggle with accepting myself, my faith and how I must live under “don’t ask, don’t tell.”

As my separation date approached, many of my supervisors offered career-counseling.  They all said the same thing: “Tony, you need to consider re-enlisting.  You are the kind of Airman that the USAF needs to retain.  You have a bright future in the Air Force and it would be a great loss to see you leave.”

They often times would ask why I wanted to leave, and I always replied: “I don‘t like wearing hats.”

Eventually, I changed my mind and was able to better manage living under DADT.  I applied for cross training into C-130 Loadmaster and was accepted.  I figured the high ops-tempo; frequent deployments and lack of down time would make for a great environment to keep me so busy that I just wouldn‘t have time to be gay.

I thought it was a brilliant plan.

As a distinguished graduate from Loadmaster training, I quickly established myself as a top-notch troop with the 37th Airlift Squadron at Ramstein Air Force Base in Germany.  Within four months of my arrival, I had completed my upgrade training and was mission ready.  I deployed to Ali Al Salem, Kuwait, in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

But deployment can take its toll.  I couldn’t lie to my fellow troops — my friends — anymore.  I delayed coming out as to not compromise our mission and waited until we returned to Germany.  At first, I ended up avoiding them as much as possible.

They nicknamed me “vapor” — as soon as we hit the ground, I would disappear.

I didn‘t avoid them because I didn‘t like them, I avoided them because I respected them enough to not have to lie and burden them with my secret.

When I arrived in Germany, I sent an email to my First Sergeant to tell him I wanted to speak with my commander about being gay and not wanting to abide by DADT any longer.   My commander said I served honorably and they would be there to support me in my transition back to civilian life.

Each one of my past supervisors from the ranks of E7 to E9 wrote character reference letters that requested my retention.  My commander and First Sergeant said my character, performance and honorable service was not at question…it was merely a legal matter.

Upon my discharge, I was hired by global contractor KBR to fill a technical position in Iraq and later in Bagram, Afghanistan.  I was once again working with the same Airmen I had worked for on active duty, but this time openly gay.  No one had a problem.

I continue to work side by side with members of our military – each of them knowing me as a gay man — and it has caused no impact on the mission.  My contracting job for the Department of Defense now is the same job I performed when I was in uniform.

Mr. President, we need you to help repeal this law – this year — so that my comrades continue to work in a force that retains the best and brightest based on performance rather than sexual orientation.  Our men and women in the military deserve better.  Listen to them, and, please, sir, do not turn your back on us.

Very Respectfully,

Former SSgt. Anthony Loverde

United States Air Force

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Fox News Host Suggests Trump ‘Force’ Court to Throw Him in Jail – by Quoting Him

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The Fox News host who targeted a juror serving on Donald Trump’s criminal New York trial is now suggesting the ex-president should violate his gag order and “force” the court to throw him in jail, by quoting the Fox News host.

Jesse Watters came under fire earlier this week for profiling juror number two, sharing possibly identifying information published by a myriad of reporters but then using that information to pass judgment on her ability to serve.

“I’m not so sure about juror number two,” Watters concluded on Fox News.

Jurors, at the judge’s direction, were to remain anonymous, for their protection and the protection of the trial.

The judge excused her, after she said she felt she was not able to be impartial because friends and family were calling her asking if she had been chosen to serve on the Trump trial, after the media blitz.

New York Supreme Court Judge Juan Merchan admonished the press for reporting the information, but some news outlets appeared to ignore his warning.

Watters on Wednesday “did a segment with a jury consultant, revealing details about people who had been seated on the jury and questioning whether some were ‘stealth liberals’ who would be out to convict Trump,” the Associated Press reported.

READ MORE: Gaetz: ‘Corrupt’ Republicans Could ‘Take a Bribe’ and Throw House to Dems, Blocking Trump Run

Trump later posted Watters’ quote on his Truth Social platform, leading some, including New York prosecutors, to ask the judge to cite him for allegedly breaking his gag order.

Judge Merchan ordered Trump to not mention witnesses, jurors, prosecutors, court staff, or the family members of prosecutors and court staff, CNN has reported.

New York prosecutors told Juge Merchan Trump has violated the gag order at least ten times.

“Prosecutor Christopher Conroy described the ‘most disturbing’ example as a social media message Trump posted on Wednesday evening quoting a Fox News host as saying, ‘They are catching undercover Liberal Activists lying to the Judge in order to get on the Trump Jury,'” Politico reports.

That host was Jesse Watters.

RELATED: ‘Afraid and Intimidated’: Trump Trial Juror Targeted by Fox News Dismissed

Friday afternoon, Watters appeared to egg Trump on, urging the ex-president to violate the gag order.

“I would make them put me in jail,” Watters said on Fox News. “I would have a tweet about something perhaps I said on ‘The Five’ or ‘Jesse Watters Primetime,’ and I would force them to throw me in jail.”

Watch Watters’ remark below or at this link.

 

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Gaetz: ‘Corrupt’ Republicans Could ‘Take a Bribe’ and Throw House to Dems, Blocking Trump Run

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U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) says some of his fellow House Republicans would “take a bribe” to throw the razor-thin GOP majority to the Democrats if a far-right faction calls up a motion to oust Speaker of the House Mike Johnson, allowing Democrats to hand the gavel to the Minority Leader, Hakeem Jeffries. he warned if that happens, Democrats would immediately declare Trump ineligible to be President, pack the U.S. Supreme Court, and pass numerous laws like the American Rescue Plan.

“I do believe in a one seat majority there could be one or two or three of my colleagues who would take a bribe in one form or another in order to deprive the Republicans of a majority at all,” Gaetz said Friday on his podcast (video below.)

He added, “the risk that one or two of my corrupt Republican colleagues might take a bribe, take a walk, feign an ailment and flip this thing to the Democrats is a risk that is too high for me at this time.”

Gaetz’s fellow far-right Florida Republican member of Congress, Anna Paulina Luna, told listeners, “I heard that when, if and when the motion vacate is introduced, that there will be immediate resignations of a couple of more moderate members of Congress. And in the event that that happens, that ultimately means it does go to a Democrat speaker.”

RELATED: Jeffries Vows Democrats Will Ensure Ukraine Aid Passes as Johnson Defectors Grow

U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) last month filed a “motion to vacate,” which she can use at any time to force a vote to oust the GOP Speaker, Mike Johnson. U.S. Rep. Tim Massie (R-KY) and just today, U.S. Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ) has signed on as co-sponsors.

Congressman Gaetz told listeners if Democrats do take the House through a force vote to remove Johnson, Democrats would “be declaring Donald Trump an insurrectionist and setting up a barrier to him being able to become the president United States.”

“That’ll be their leadoff hitter, and then the chaser to that shot will be a massive spending package that looks a lot more like the American Rescue Plan. They will blow past every concept of every cap ever imagined. You’ll be looking at Universal Basic Income, you could be looking at packing the Supreme Court.”

Watch a short clip of Gaetz’s remarks below or at this link.

READ MORE: ‘Stop Bringing Up Nazis and Hitler’: Marjorie Taylor Greene Smacked Down by Democrats

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Jeffries Vows Democrats Will Ensure Ukraine Aid Passes as Johnson Defectors Grow

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Democratic House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries vowed Friday the majority of Democrats will support Republicans’ Ukraine, Israel, Taiwan, and Gaza foreign aid legislation as Republican Speaker Mike Johnson lost support of another member of his conference to a faction determined to oust him.

“Democrats will provide a majority of our majority as it relates to funding Israel, humanitarian assistance, Ukraine, and our allies in the Indo Pacific,” Minority Leader Jeffries said. “It remains to be seen what Republicans will do in terms of meeting the national security needs of the American people, but it was important for House Democrats to ensure that the national security bills are going to be considered.”

Despite Republicans having a one-vote majority, more Democrats on Friday voted to move the critical and long-awaited foreign aid bills forward than did Republicans.

READ MORE: ‘Stop Bringing Up Nazis and Hitler’: Marjorie Taylor Greene Smacked Down by Democrats

The 316-94 vote included 165 Democrats and 151 Republicans voting yes, and 55 Republicans and 39 Democrats voting no.

Axios’ Juliegrace Brufke posted the list of Republicans voting against their party’s legislation.

Calling it a “rare” moment in modern congressional history to have to rely on opposition party votes to pass legislation, BBC News reports Speaker Johnson’s “hold on power is tenuous, and the legislators who oppose him – and his bid to provide aid to Ukraine – occupy some key positions within the House’s power structure.”

Amid the procedural vote to move the foreign aid funding bills forward, U.S. Rep. Paul Gosar, a far-right Republican of Arizona, announced he is joining Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), and Congressman Tim Massie (R-KY) in formally announcing their will vote to oust Speaker Johnson.

Gosar, like Greene, is reportedly a Christian nationalist. In 2022 CNN reported his “lengthy ties to White nationalists, [a] pro-Nazi blogger and far-right fringe received little pushback for years.”

RELATED: ‘Repercussions’: Democrats and Republicans Stand Against ‘Pro-Putin’ House GOP Faction

“We’ve been very honest in our assessment of the situation from the beginning,” Jeffries on Friday also declared. “At the appropriate time as House Democrats, we will have a conversation about how to deal with any hypothetical motion to vacate.”

“Moscow Marjorie Taylor Greene, Massie, and Gosar are quite a group. But central to our conversation is to make sure that the national security legislation in totality is passed by the House of Representatives.”

Watch the videos above or at this link.

 

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