by Mike Broihier
I spent several years as the editor of a rural weekly newspaper trying to decipher the intent of letters I received, so I’ll cut right to the chase. My name is Mike Broihier, I am a Democratic candidate for US Senate, and I would like your support.
As I’ve campaigned across Kentucky for the last 10-months I’m afraid I’ve disappointed some groups when they asked me, “What are you going to do for us?” Miners, teachers, racial and ethnic minority leaders and others have all asked me the same question and my reply was the same, “Nothing for you, specifically.”
I understand the temptation many candidates feel to make hyper-specific promises. I would have loved nothing more than to tell a group of young Somali immigrants that I would build them a new soccer field, but that isn’t the business of a senator.
My intent is broader and is the core of my campaign: social and economic justice for all. All, as in everyone, regardless of race, creed, color or sexual orientation and identity. I have seen too many missteps in my life in the pursuit of full equality in the eyes of the law. From the war on poverty which left many more impoverished and dependent on government largesse to the disgraceful failure of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. I am determined to break the cycle of dependency on elected officials to deliver rights owed to all by the fact they live in America.
My last tour of duty in the Marines was teaching at UC Berkeley, attached to the Naval ROTC unit. Short months before I retired, a senior, near graduation, came to office hours and told me he could not accept his commission as a Naval Officer because he was gay. With tears in my eyes, I begged him to stay. I told him of my many gay and lesbian friends serving despite Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. I told him nobody in the service cared who was gay and who wasn’t, but my entreaties failed. He opted to accept responsibility for the money the Navy had expended on his education and forgo a career that I was sure would be brilliant. He told me he could not take an oath under the color of a lie. I sadly shook his hand and said goodbye.
Five years later I was retired and editing a rural weekly newspaper. Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell was up for reauthorization and it appeared President Obama was going to get rid of it once and for all. I decided I need to weigh in, to tell my small, religious, conservative readership about the destructive and meanspirited nature of this law. So, I let it rip in an editorial headlined “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, Don’t Care.”
The gist was that the only people who cared about gays in the military were pastors and politicians. That my readers should trust the over 40 years of experience my wife and I had when I said that sexual orientation or identity didn’t matter. To believe that the military is a jarring meritocracy; few care about your religious beliefs, the color of your skin or who you love. When the shit hits the fan, the question of who you can count on is all that matters. And my readers believed me.
You can count me.
My only goal as your senator will be to ensure that the promise of America, that all are equal in the eyes of the law, means you as well. I know that you don’t want to be singled out for special treatment, that you only want full access to life, liberty and happiness. Those promises of fulfilling lives without fear or prejudice will be my guiding rules, every day, as I represent you in Washington.
Mike Broihier is running for the Democratic nomination to the U.S. Senate in Kentucky. He is a retired Marine Corps Lt. Col., and a former teacher and journalist. He and his wife Lynn grow asparagus in Lincoln County.