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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

January 29, 2009 at 4:00 PM

National politics

New attitude demands new military policy

President Obama is in the White House and the possibility of real change is gripping America. From coast to coast and throughout the patchwork quilt of diversity, all across our country, people are hopeful and optimistic.

This is true for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community as well. Last week, Seattle Times editorial page Editor James Vesely wrote advocating the repeal of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy for the U.S. Military [“Straights and gays, all in formation,” column, Jan. 18]. On behalf of the Human Rights Campaign, I would like to commend Vesely and The Times for this action.

This policy is the only law in the country that asks people to be dishonest about their personal lives or risk being fired or prosecuted. It is responsible for the dismissal of 800 badly needed specialists such as Arabic translators, thus hindering our military.

Since its inception 15 years ago, support for open service from the American public has grown 31 points and now stands at 75 percent [Washington Post/ABC, July 2008]. But, even more remarkable is that 73 percent of veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan say they are comfortable in the presence of gays [Zogby, Dec. 2006]. And support for open service among all veterans stands at 50 percent.

It’s a new day in America with a new attitude from Americans. The time is now to repeal this antiquated and failed military policy.

— Steve Gibbs, co-chair of the Seattle HRC Steering Committee, Seattle

To be black is to be “American”

Maybe it’s because I am a “young American” at 25, but I found the front-page, reprinted article from the Chicago Tribune, “Cool to some, but strange to others,” completely ridiculous [Jan. 27].

First, this is not news.

Second, the article portrays “black culture” as some kind of wacky, foreign and exotic stepchild to “traditional” American culture. That there is a news story on this subject at all, intimates that black culture is not American culture.

Pundits and journalists need to get over the fact that we weren’t all dropped out of the same mold in this country and get on with reporting real news.

— Marina Hench, Seattle

Bitter irony behind bearing arms

Will the U.S. gun craze, our romance with firearms, ever end [“Gunman in Portland shooting spree dies,” Local News, Jan. 28]?

How many more of our young people will we sacrifice in the name of a misdirected policy, the right to bear arms?”

We Rotarians host outstanding foreign students in a program of peace and international understanding. So much for peace! They are shot down on the sidewalks of Portland. What bitter irony that American parents fret about their children’s safety while abroad. The real dangers are right here under our American noses.

The details of these murders — random shooting of unknown victims in a relatively peaceful American city — highlight the insanity of our gun policies. Handguns exist only to shoot people; disturbed people will use them if they are readily at hand.

When will Americans be hurt and incensed enough to demand a change?

— Robert Hauck, Shoreline

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