Coloradan congressional candidate and openly gay man Jared Polis got a bit of gay-baiting last week. The distasteful drama started when a Polis mailer used an image of American soldiers raising a flag over Iwo Jima. Polis’ ad, however, superimposed controversial security force Blackwater’s logo over the stars and stripes. The mailer read, “When American troops risk their lives for our freedoms it’s heroic. When companies risk American lives for their profits it is anything but”. While this may be true, Colorado Veterans for America – which supports Polis’ rival, Joan Fitz-Gerald – ain’t happy and have accused Polis of defacing the flag. Member Jim Hudson, meanwhile, questioned Polis’ commitment to the country.
“When he was over in Iraq, who provided his security?” Hudson asked. “If these security companies weren’t doing it, who would? It would require that we have more young people in the military.”
Hudson, a former solider, took his critique of Polis one step further in a telephone interview with The Denver Post, questioning why Polis, who is openly gay, hasn’t served in the military.
“He says that he has to ‘tell’ that he’s gay,” Hudson said. “I can tell you, when I served in Vietnam, I served with many gays, and was honored to do so. And they didn’t feel compelled to make an issue of their orientation, because, I presume, that they thought it was more important that they serve their country.”
Polis was quick to reply, calling Hudson comments “homophobic”:
This is the kind of homophobic comment that we have worked so hard to overcome in order to reach some sort of tolerance in America. I was in ROTC as a college student and the ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ policy of the military definitely played into my decision to not continue my training. I don’t feel that anyone – man or woman – should have to pretend or hide who they are to serve our nation and I look forward to a time when gay men and women can serve openly in our military.
I ask Joan Fitz-Gerald to disassociate herself with this obviously homophobic group.
No word on whether Fitz-Gerald will honor Polis request. It’s not as if the CVA can really do that much damage: they’ve only got 2,000 members!