Do Tell

It’s the first anniversary of official integration of openly gay, lesbian and bisexual people in the military. I can think of no better way to observe it than by the words of Joint Chiefs Chairman Mike Mullen as he testified before Congress last year:

“No matter how I look at the issue, I cannot escape being troubled by the fact that we have in place a policy which forces young men and women to lie about who they are in order to defend their fellow citizens. For me, it comes down to integrity – theirs as individuals and ours as an institution.”

What many don’t understand is that lies create shame- and shame creates pain. For many LGBT people, lying on a daily basis is dehumanizing and debilitating over the long term, destroying integrity, creating depression, increasing anxiety and lowering significantly a person’s quality of life.

On the other hand, telling the truth and being accepted can greatly minimize depression, anxiety and shame, increasing quality of life significantly.

I think the military’s embracing of honesty sends an important message to Americans- one that should have been sent from the beginning:  lying is bad. In fact, it’s bad policy.

Obvious, isn’t it?

And here’s to the many members of the military who survived- who “served in silence” before truth was finally policy (including my husband). Thank you for your service.

In fact, maybe today should be Gay Veteran’s Day….

 

Bachmann Staffer Arrested For Terrorism

Denny Rehberg’s role model, Michele Bachmann, besides being an habitual liar, seems to be headed for a little Bachmanngate…. From The Atlantic:

The evangelical organizer who helped Michele Bachmann win the Ames Straw Poll in Iowa Saturday was previously charged with terrorism in Uganda after being arrested for possession of assault rifles and ammunition in February 2006, just days before Uganda’s first multi-party elections in 20 years.

Peter E. Waldron spent 37 days in the Luriza Prison outside Kampala, where he says he was tortured, after being arrested along with six Congolese and Ugandan nationals for the weapons, which were described variously in news reports as having been found in his bedroom or a closet in his home. The charges, which could have led to life in prison, were dropped in March 2006 after a pressure campaign by Waldron’s friends and colleagues and what Waldron says was the intervention of the Bush administration. He was released and deported from the east African nation, along with the Congolese. On Saturday, Waldron told The Atlantic in Ames that he was a staffer for Bachmann and responsible for her faith-based organizing both in Iowa and South Carolina. But he also declined repeatedly to give his name.

Oh, and it gets much more interesting. Full Story here.

But before you think you’ve got it all figured out- think again. Andrew Rice gives us even more:

Peter Waldron, an evangelical minister who told the publication that he is doing outreach on Bachmann’s behalf to the born-again community, spent more than a month in Kampala’s Luzira Prison in 2006, and possesses a resume more in keeping with a spy novel than a presidential campaign. Among other things, the Atlantic item reports, Waldron is now promoting an autobiographical movie on his website that asks, teasingly, “was he a businessman, a preacher, a spy?” Franke-Ruta adds that “one man who knew Waldron in 2004 told The St. Petersburg Times in 2006 that Waldron had told him he used to work for the CIA.”

I bring this up because I happen to be that man who knew Waldron.

Saying that I “knew” Waldron is putting it a little strongly: I met him in 2004 in the course of writing an article on the evangelical movement in Uganda, where we both lived at the time. The piece was published in The New Republic, and is now regrettably behind a paywall. (Update: Link here. Thanks to TNR and Ben Smith.)

To summarize, it was in part an examination of Muslim-Christian relations in the country and also a profile of Martin Ssempa, a popular, controversial and publicity-savvy Ugandan preacher who seemed emblematic of the a wave of fervent Christianity that has lately been sweeping Africa. Ssempa invited me to his church on the campus of Makerere University one Sunday, where he was joined by a curious guest: Waldron. The American’s role in the story was cut down a bit in the editing process, but since the question of how he presented himself at the time now seems important, I’ll reproduce below what I wrote about him in my first draft of the article, back when our interaction was fresh on my mind.

Looks like this guy represents something we’ve all come to see in Bachmann’s campaign- denial of the facts/reality in favor of extremist ideological fantasy. Rice sums it up perfectly:

When I look back now, my impression of him remains now what it was then, which is that he was a particularly flamboyant example of an archetypal character: the American who goes to Africa, a continent where a little money and a lot of talk can buy substantial power, in search of a position of influence.

It eluded him in Uganda, but maybe now he’s found it back home, with the Bachmann campaign.

I wonder how long Denny’s pal is going to be able to take this. And whether Rehberg will have the wits to distance himself from Bachmann… Anyway, his full article here.

 

 

Focus On The Family: Stop Lying!

Kathy at CanyonWalker Connections does a great job of exposing Focus On The Family‘s lies. Excerpt:

My team is looking stupid.  I’d like to think I live my life with genuine concern and grace towards others.  Then, some person or group wears the same team jersey comes along and treats people badly, messing up all the traction. Christians can be amongst the kindest, most loving, giving and forgiving people and then, well, you know. We can also be the meanest, most hateful people when we think that  you have it wrong and we have it right.

Fabulous!
This is a great piece- especially if you’re unsure how to respond to the Christianist Agenda.  Read it all here.