Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Congressman Cleaver & "Don't Ask, Don't Tell"

I had the honor of meeting Congressman Emanuel Cleaver this afternoon at the Broadway Cafe, a coffeeshop I often frequent. I sat at a table in the sun with my partner, Ron, reading the paper while Ron played with his new iphone. At a certain point, I looked up and noticed the congressman, along with three other suited figures, in deep conversation over coffee at a nearby table. Why we kept exchanging glances, I'm not sure, but he became aware of my presence, too. As Cleaver's other comrades got up to leave, Cleaver stopped at our table. He seemed in no particular hurry, either, as we proceeded to discuss the urgency of health care reform. Another coffee drinker rose to join the conversation, as well.

But health care was not the only issue on my agenda. I would have been remiss not to bring up at least one issue of relevance to my own community, and I reminded him as I sat there in a tee shirt with a rainbow logo on it that I'd appreciate his support for overturning "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." Cleaver then took time to explain his own strong desire to overturn that silly policy and pointed out that he was one of the co-signers of a June 22nd letter to President Obama urging the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell."

Cleaver, a black minister, has long been one of the great civil rights pioneers. In him, the gay community has a strong friend. I was honored to meet him and impressed that he took as much time as he did to converse with us and respond to our questions in such a casual and unscripted environment.


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