Rabbis Disappointed in McCain's "Unwillingness to Meet"
"Allowing gay and lesbian service members to continue to contribute to our nation's security while living their lives according to the standards of honor so prized by the military reflects our understanding that every man and woman is created in the image of God."
December 8, 2010 Washington DC - Four leading Arizona Reform rabbis today released a letter urging Sen. John McCain help repeal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." The letter conveys the views the rabbis had sought to convey in person to Sen. McCain, but were denied the opportunity. The full text of the letter follows:
Dear Senator McCain:
We, along with a delegation of retired military flag and general officers and retired military chaplains, recently requested a meeting with you in Washington DC to discuss the future of the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy. After multiple follow-up calls and an extended period without hearing any response, we were informed by your Chief of Staff, Mark Buse, that your office was "not able to accommodate [our] request as the Senator's schedule is full." Mr. Buse did, however, note in an email that he would ensure that you personally saw any information we wished to convey.
To that end, and on behalf of our synagogues and congregants, and the Reform Jewish Movement of which we are a part, we write to express our great disappointment in your unwillingness to meet with us.
Even more so, we are deeply disappointed by your opposition to repealing "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." We believe that the policy is antithetical to the values of justice and compassion on which our nation was founded. We note, as well, the recent support for repeal expressed by the Secretary of Defense, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the overwhelming majority of military service men and women.
You have heard the testimony from military leaders and other such experts making clear that while there will be an initial period of transition, repealing "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" will not have an adverse effect on the Armed Forces (in fact, legislative repeal is preferred to that through judicial action). Just as the arguments against President Truman's decision to racially integrate the armed forces proved to be false, so will be those made against repealing "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." Our military today remains the finest force known in history; it is stronger because its members reflect the faces of the people it defends.
As a Movement, we spent significant time exploring the biblical texts and teachings that eventually helped guide us to welcoming gay and lesbian clergy and members as full participants in our congregations. Let us assure you that as spiritual leaders from the largest Jewish denomination in North America, we are firm in our belief that repealing "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" is the right and moral action.
Allowing gay and lesbian service members to continue to contribute to our nation's security while living their lives according to the standards of honor so prized by the military reflects our understanding that every man and woman is created in the image of God. The spark of the divine is present in equal abundance in gay and lesbian men and women, as it is in those who are heterosexual.
We feel strongly enough about the importance of this issue that we sought the opportunity to visit with you in Washington at your convenience and these are the sentiments we would have preferred to express to you in person. We regret that you did not feel that such a conversation would have been worthwhile.
We respect your service to our nation throughout your military and congressional career. But we respectfully disagree with your defense of a policy that forces men and women who, like you, wish to serve, to do so while hiding their identity. This is a policy that is long overdue for repeal and we urge you to allow such repeal to proceed with all due haste.
Rabbi Charles Herring
Temple Kol Ami, Scottsdale
Rabbi John Linder
Temple Solel, Paradise Valley
Rabbi Thomas Louchheim
Congregation Or Chadash, Tuscon
Rabbi Andrew Straus
Temple Emanuel, Tempe