Gay activists are increasing the
pressure on Arizona Senator John McCain after he successfully rallied
Senate Republicans to oppose repeal of “Don't Ask, Don't Tell,”
the 17-year-old law that requires gay troops serving in the military
to remain celibate or closeted.
James Gruender co-chair of Human &
Equal Rights Organizers (HERO) says his group wants to hold McCain
accountable for spearheading Republican opposition to repeal.
Taking its message directly to McCain,
members of the group can be seen regularly protesting outside the
senator's Phoenix office.
The latest action came Sunday, when
protesters gathered outside the KTVK, Channel 3, television studios
in Phoenix as McCain debated his three rivals inside. The protesters
unfurled a large sign that read: “McCain CHARACTER MATTERS Support
Our Troops; Repeal 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell.'”
Gruender pointed to a tense exchange
last week between McCain and reporters for the gay media as evidence
that McCain is “out of touch with reality” on the issue of
After Democrats failed to break the
Republican filibuster, McCain, the ranking Republican on the Senate
Armed Services Committee, insisted that the military does not
persecute gay troops.
“Regulations are … we do not go out
and seek to find out someone's sexual orientation,” he said, and
then, speaking to Kerry Eleveld of gay glossy The Advocate, he
added, “That is the fact. That is the fact. Now, ma'am, I know
the military very well, and I know what's being done. And what is
being done is that they are not seeking out people who are gay. And
I don't care what you say, I know it's a fact.”
“Just another example of how McCain
is out of touch with reality,” Gruender told On Top Magazine
in an email. “It is well documented that the military has used
people's email, ex-lovers and other means to remove people from the
military under DADT. It has been far from don't ask, don't tell, it
really, at times, has been a witch hunt by the military.”
“Also, if his memory would serve him,
there has been lots of testimony in front of his own committee that
backs up that he is wrong,” he added.
Gruender said his group would continue
to protest McCain so long as he continued to block repeal of “Don't