Another open letter to Representative Frank LoBiondo, NJ-2

Dear Representative Frank LoBiondo,

Over the past week, I’ve been calling your office nearly every day, because I’ve been very concerned about Donald Trump’s transgender military service ban. I know that you spoke out about this back in July, but as this terrible policy moved from a series of tweets to an actual directive, I thought you would want to update your policy statement — specifically condemning Donald Trump, or talking about the importance of supporting our military, or anything more concrete than having “serious concerns”.

I was pretty surprised when your chief of staff Jason Galanes called me late Tuesday afternoon. I was even more surprised — though not very pleased — when he assured me that it was well-known that you opposed the transgender military ban, and that no further action was necessary. In fact, I’ve polled my cohort of politically active South Jersey friends and family members: I’m actually the only person who knew you’d put out any statement, milquetoast as it was.

In this phone conversation, Mr. Galanes parried my pleas for you to go public and talk on a grand scale about transgender military rights by telling me that making a press statement is functionally equivalent to giving a press conference, that a twitter statement is the same as a policy directive, and that you’ve been very busy talking to local radio stations (sir, I’m pretty sure you have a face for TV). When I asked why you hadn’t signed a letter that 143 of your colleagues have signed protesting the transgender military ban, Mr. Galanes responded, “we never got the letter to sign. Why aren’t you calling the Democrats and asking them why they didn’t include us?”

I think it’s pretty ridiculous for Mr. Galanes to be outsourcing a major function of his job — he’s your official spokesman, he should be the one reaching out to Democratic offices, as opposed to snapping at concerned constituents and hiding behind partisan rivalries to obscure a lack of content — but I’ve thought about it and I accept Mr. Galanes’ offer. After all, I am a mom, and I have a lot of experience making playdates between kids who don’t necessarily seem to have a lot in common on the surface. This can’t be much harder, right?

So tomorrow, I’m going to contact House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer and tell him that your chief of staff Jason Galanes said that you’re willing to sign on to the letter that circulated the House, and that you’ll stand with Democrats in the face of any executive branch overreach that affects our transgender military service. I’m going to contact the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus to say you’re interested in meeting with them and protecting our trans military members. I’m going to contact the LGBT military group OutServe-SLDN and see how you can help them. I’ll CC Jason Galanes on all of this, so he can be kept up to date on all of the ways you can make a difference. And I’m going to ask every politically-aware person I know in South Jersey

It is so rare that we can have the chance to do good for an entire group of deserving people. In protecting the rights of transgender military service members, you are the best positioned of all to help our military and our veterans, groups you have worked for your entire Congressional career. You’ve asked member of my family before — Mr. Galanes confirmed this — what one Republican legislator can do. Sir, one Republican legislator willing to condemn bigotry could be everything. If you stand up against Donald Trump could be the fulcrum that Archimedes sought to place his lever to shift the Earth. And even if you are not — even if this a futile effort that changes no minds and no official policy — it will mean the world to every transgender service member, past and present.

As I write this letter, news has broken that Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis has frozen the transgender ban from being implemented, pending a high-level study. Will you stand with him, and with our troops? Or will you stand with a commander in chief who has no command over himself, much less the country? Will you stand with the people who elected you as their public servant, or will you stand mutely with your party — a party that has welcomed an enabler of racism, white supremacism, and everything you think America stands against as its leader?

One last thing. Your chief of staff Jason Galanes said, “I think it’s very clear where the congressman stands,” on transgender rights, and in return I made a crude remark about where you stand vis-a-vis Donald Trump. Since then, I’ve been wracked with guilt that my desire to shock your chief-of-staff out of complacency has actually hurt a cause I hold dear. It would pain me greatly to think that I have hurt the cause of transgender rights by speaking when I shouldn’t have, and I genuinely hope that this wasn’t true.

Representative LoBiondo, I would like to apologize. I do not think that you have made it clear you’re fine licking the president’s butthole. Rather, I think you’ve made it clear that you value your own office and your own seniority in the Republican party, your comfortable place and your government salary, more than you value representing your constituents and listening to what the people have to say. I think you’d prefer to do radio shows rather than be exposed to discomfort of having to look someone in the lie.Representative LoBiondo, I think you’re fine giving the impression that it’s fine to lick the president’s butthole as long as it serves you a momentary electoral gain. And honestly, I think that’s even worse.

I want to be wrong about you. Prove me wrong about you. Stand up. Speak up. And act — for us, not for Donald Trump.