On September 21, 2010, I attended a candidate's forum hosted by the Pompano Beach Civic Association to listen to a friend running for the Florida State House. I showed up in dressed in jeans and a polo shirt and upon entering the auditorium; I quickly realized that there was going to be more to the evening's line up. Having then just learned that Allen West was going to be speaking, well it explained a lot, include the need to mentally prepare myself to brave the insanity and to sit through an evening in an auditorium with hate-filled fear-mongering homophobes and tea baggers.
While I can't wait for this election season to end, until it's over, I'm mustering up the energy to help Pro-Equality Congressman Ron Klein get re-elected to Florida's 22nd Congressional District. His right-wing extremist challenger, who actually lives in Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz's district and cannot vote for himself, decided to try and carpetbag his way into the district. It's been reported that West has been showered with Tea Party campaign funds from all over the country. The fight for this congressional district has the potential to serve as a barometer as to whether LGBTQI-Americans have any hopes to advance legislative efforts for equality in the next session of the United States Congress.
While Congressman Klein was in Washington, DC performing the job he was elected for, his opponent, disgraced Colonel Allen West, spoke to the civic association about his campaign for the US House of Representatives. In the video below the jump, I questioned West on the military's discriminatory policy of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." In my question, I included Eric Alva when I spoke about LGBT-men and women risking their lives, why should they not have the same right to serve? West's response, as expected, just infuriated me and all I could think was "run fat boy, run."
Below is a transcript of my question and West's response:
Michael Rajner: There are men and women risking their lives on a daily basis for this nation, just like you did. Why should they also not have the right to serve in our nation's military?
Allen West: Well unfortunately, they are serving, you just said that. But the thing I think you are looking at is, the military, the mission of the military is not to accommodate sexual behavior. Let me tell you something as a commander. I fined people for not having the proper haircut. I kicked people out because they couldn't run fast. I kicked people out because they couldn't do pushups. I kicked people out because they were overweight. So the thing is, there was a compromise, that was reached during the Clinton administration and I stand by that compromise and I think that is the best thing for the mission of the United States military.
And so I appreciate any American that goes in and serves, but let me tell you something about me as a heterosexual in the military. I couldn't even walk in my uniform holding my wife's hand unless it was an official formal ceremony. So there are some rules and restrictions.
You know how many years you can go to jail in the military for committing adultery? Do we have that in the civilian world? You can go to a military prison for 18 months for committing adultery. The United States military is a different society then the society we have here and I think the most important thing that we need to be focusing on, we have been in Afghanistan for 9 years and we are still fighting major combat operations, that is where the focus should be so that we don't have double amputees, be it heterosexual or gay, coming back to the United States of America.
Please help me re-elect one of our Pro-Equality champions in the United States Congress. Congressman Klein has stepped up to the plate when it comes to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and HIV/AIDS-related issues. Now its time for the LGBTQIA-community to step up to the plate and make certain we send our Pro-Equality champions back to the Unites States Congress for our community to move forward.
Like you, I'm angry and I'm frustrated, but now is not the time for the pity party. Now is the time to channel all that anger into something constructive. Misdirected anger will only get us a Congress being strangled by the Tea Party right-wing extremists who would rather us be shunned from society to die unemployed, homeless and ill.