August 9, 2012 at 5:09 pm EDT | by Chris Johnson
McDonnell won’t let lesbian vet testify before GOP platform committee
Bob McDonnell, Robert McDonnell, gay news, gay politics dc

Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell won’t let a lesbian vet testify before the GOP platform committee (photo by Gage Skidmore via Wikimedia commons)

The governor of Virginia and chair of the GOP platform committee won’t allow a lesbian veteran from his state to testify on same-sex marriage and repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act before the panel.

Tucker Martin, a spokesperson for Gov. Bob McDonnell, said retired Navy Capt. Joan Darrah, an Alexandria, Va., resident, won’t have an opportunity to speak before the platform committee — which will meet in Tampa, Fla., prior to the Republican National Convention — because speaking opportunities have already been allocated.

“First and foremost, the Governor thanks Capt. Darrah for her service to our nation,” Martin said. “Capt. Darrah has dedicated her life to the defense of the United States and the Governor salutes her for it. In the weeks leading up to Tampa, the Platform Committee has heard directly from hundreds of groups and individuals regarding suggestions and proposals for inclusion in the Platform. The Committee continues to welcome submissions from individuals and outside groups via the website:  However, once in Tampa, the only individuals to speak at the Platform Committee are the Platform Delegates and Subcommittee Chairs.  We thank Capt. Darrah for her interest in the Republican Party Platform, and, we also hope that she will still submit her suggestions to the Platform Committee via the online submission process.”

In an open letter to McDonnell, Darrah, who along with her partner Lynne Kennedy is a plaintiff in Servicemembers Legal Defense Network’s lawsuit against DOMA, requested the opportunity to speak before the committee about the importance of repealing the anti-gay as well as endorsing marriage equality. The committee is meeting the week of August 20.

“Quite simply, these objectives correspond with the ideals of the Republican Party: opposition to government intrusion in people’s lives, and a modern military that supports all our service members and their families,” Darrah writes.

An advocate for “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal, Darrah had testified before the House Armed Services personnel subcommittee on lifting the military’s gay ban. Over the course of serving nearly two decades in the armed forces, Darrah narrowly escaped death while working at the Pentagon during the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks,

The Washington Blade reported on Wednesday that Log Cabin Republicans is touting being credentialed to send a four-member delegation before the platform committee in Tampa. Striking out anti-gay language that appeared in the 2008 platform, such as the endorsement of the Federal Marriage Amendment, is one goal of the group.

Chris Johnson is Chief Political & White House Reporter for the Washington Blade. Johnson attends the daily White House press briefings and is a member of the White House Correspondents' Association. Follow Chris

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