Members of GetEqual and Missouri gay rights activists protested Thursday
at the district office of Rep. Ike Skelton in Jefferson City, Mo.,
they delivered more than 3,500 petitions and read a letter from a gay
soldier serving in Iraq.
The protesters demanded that Skelton, the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, apologize for comments he made last week that repealing "don't ask, don't tell" could force parents into a national conversation about homosexuality. "What do mommies and daddies say to their 7-year-old child?" the Democrat asked.
In video footage, below, Missouri activist Ed Reggi, cofounder of Show Me No Hate, reads the soldier's letter addressed to Congressman Skelton. Read the full text on the next page.
June 17, 2010
Representative Ike Skelton US House of Representatives 2206
Rayburn House Office Building Washington, DC 20515-2504
Dear Representative Skelton,
It was in Ray County, Missouri that I
first decided that I would join the Army. I was sitting on the pond
dock at my father's home, and came to the realization that my life was
not heading anywhere that I wanted it to. I had no way to pay for
college, and it seemed I would be stuck in that town not amounting to
much. I went and spoke with a recruiter in Liberty, Missouri and 11
days later I was sitting at Fort Sill, Oklahoma.
years later, I do not regret that decision. I am now sitting in Baghdad
preparing to redeploy back to the United States for a second, and final
time. I can honestly say I am proud of the work we have done here. I
look at the Iraqis that I personally helped train as a member of the
Military Transition Team and can rest assured that we are leaving the
area in capable hands. Through serving the country in the United States
Army I have become more patriotic than I knew possible.
my pride in the Army and what we stand for has been yanked away. One of
the first lessons that I learned after joining the Army was the
importance of Integrity. I have served our great country honorably in
two deployments. I have earned eight awards and have a clean record. I
was one of the first responders to Muqdadiyah in 2007 when then
President Bush ordered the surge, where my unit spent 15 months in
various provinces. I returned again nine months ago to finish what we
started and am proud to be a member of the last combat brigade operating
Although my record is untarnished, there is one
thing separating myself and the rest of "America's heroes." Though I
have less than a year left before my contract has been served, I was
informed that the Army is considering discharging me under the "Don't
Ask, Don't Tell" law, and this hurts extensively. My command realizes
and respects the efforts and contributions to my unit and the fact that
we are low-manned. It seems that they are holding out as long as they
can on my discharge process, waiting for "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" to be
I can understand if your views are against gay and
lesbians in general, but sir, you must realize your unique role in the
United States. Were it not for uncomfortable truths there would be no
need for you at all. As a representative of the state of Missouri and a
leader in Congress's role pertaining to the military, it is imperative
that you not succumb to weak leadership. However, I find it disturbingly
necessary to remind you today of your job and that is to open national
discussions on issues to find the best resolution. That is your job, and
were it not, there would be no need for Congress.
Skelton, I demand that you apologize for your remarks. You need to
recognize the disrespect that you issued to the gay and lesbian
soldiers, like myself, who are currently serving regardless if we are
recognized or not. I demand that you look at this from my perspective. I
have spent the majority of my adult life fighting for a war in which
you sent me to. I am fighting for your safety and freedom, and for every
"mommies and daddies'" 7-year-old's freedom and safety. I come in from
a long day out in the streets of Baghdad and see on television my
representative, my voice, condemning the act of acknowledging my
Congressman, regardless of your personal views on the
issue, we are serving now. To be disrespectful to us is not only
intolerant but ignorant. We deserve at the bare minimum an honest
assessment and a fair judgment on the matter. In order for this to
happen you, as the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, must
allow these discussions to take place. I will continue fighting for your
freedom congressman, will you cease blocking mine?
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