As George Bush mobilises thousands of Army Reservists in preparation for a war with Iraq, an anti-war movement is building within US gay and lesbian communities.
In Chicago the opposition has taken the form of a series of full-page ads in local gay newspapers. The ads warn the cost of the war would be in lost funding for HIV/AIDS services as well as loss of life.
A new US war will indirectly kill people in our community here at home by diverting necessary funds away from already scaled-back social service programs, the ads state.
The Chicago Anti-Bashing Network paid for the ads after a week of intensive fundraising, and they were signed by some of the state’s highest profile gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender activists.
US lobby group the National Gay and Lesbian Taskforce has also joined the anti-war movement, joining Keep America Safe, a coalition of organisations including the National Organization for Women and the National Council of Churches.
Task Force executive director Lorri L. Jean wrote in a statement on the organisation’s website the coalition was formed to give the Bush administration a diverse but united opposition to a strike on Iraq.
In the aftermath of September 11, we have grown increasingly alarmed that under the guise of a nation at war, the Bush Administration has eviscerated many of the fundamental principles upon which this nation was founded and which are at the very core of our free and democratic society, Jean wrote.
The lobby has called for other US gay and lesbian organisations to join the coalition.
Meantime, the Center for the Study of Sexual Minorities in the Military reported this week that the creator of the US military’s don’t ask, don’t tell policy on gay and lesbian soldiers has backed plans to accept openly gay servicepeople.
The Center interviewed Charles Moskos, the author of the gay and lesbian soldiers’ policy this week. Moskos said the problems and hassles associated with accepting gay and lesbian servicepeople could be overcome.
He said the current policy of banning gay men in a US draft provided an opportunity for too many people to get out of going to war.
The gay and lesbian members of the Green Party of the United States have issued a statement in protest to the hypocritical don’t ask, don’t tell policy.
In November, the US Army fired nine linguists, including six trained in Arabic, for being gay -“ at a time when translators might be most valuable in everything from negotiation to intelligence, a spokesman said.
But quite often, the military suspends its discharge of gay personnel during wartime. In other words, queer soldiers are prohibited from peacetime careers, but may serve as cannon fodder during a war.