The Freedom Federation, a coalition of religious right groups that has sought to build support beyond the movement’s white evangelical base, has sent a letter to every U.S. Senator, urging them not to repeal Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. The letter, signed by leaders of a wide variety of religious right organizations, claims that these organizations together represent 40 million people. (I covered the Freedom Federation’s first conference back in April. A few hundred people were in attendance.)
The letter claims that with the exception of Admiral Mike Mullen, “our military leaders . . . object to the repeal.” But as Greg Sargent reports on today’s hearings: “Military leaders essentially pleaded with GOP Senators to support repealing DADT, arguing that the failure to do so would put the state of our military at serious risk” (emphasis in original).
Sargent further reports that GOP Senators seemed unwilling to listen to the pleas of the military leaders.
Taking a look at who signed the Freedom Federation letter — the people who collectively represent 40 million Americans, or so they claim — the signatories include Sarah Palin*; Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council (which today hosted a webcast about how repeal of DADT would be evidence of a “radical agenda” taking over the military); Joseph Farah, editor of the conspiratorial World Net Daily; the American Family Association, whose public policy director Bryan Fischer asserts there is a link between Nazism and homosexuality.
I could name more (like Rusty Thomas of Elijah Ministries, who worked with Fischer in Idaho organizing a conference against “sodomites”), but let me just highlight the crowning touch: one of the signatories includes a former Navy chaplain, Gordon James Klingenschmitt, who was court-martialed for appearing at a partisan political event in uniform. He has issued imprecatory prayers against his political foes; his own DADT petition calls for “defending our troops from open homosexual aggression.”
Should Senators give one ounce of credence to any coalition letter that sought support from this disgraced military man? From a post I did a few months back:
Klingenschmitt, who Americans United for the Separation of Church and State called a “phony martyr” because he falsely claimed he was expelled from the military because he prayed in Jesus’s name, when in fact the court-martial was over his uniformed appearance at a partisan event, was accused by his Navy supervisor of being “totally untruthful, unethical and insubordinate,” and “contemptuous of all authority.”
Here’s the best part: the Freedom Federation letter says that “the rush to repeal DADT by January 2011 is a slap in the face of the American people who are tired of bully politics.”
*UPDATE: Apparently it was not Sarah Palin who signed the letter (although it looked like it on the original version) but someone named Rita Grace who is president of a group called Sarah Palin Republican Women.