Thursday, July 14, 2005

More on the U.S.S Iowa Situation -- Please Help!

Gryph and I have tag-teamed a bit of additional information concerning the aforementioned flap over locating the battleship U.S.S. Iowa in San Francisco.

Turns out that if we don't act quickly, the loony decision by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors to reject a resolution to permanently berth the ship in San Francisco as the centerpiece of a museum will be a moot point.

Seems that a House Representative inserted a bit of language into HR 1815 (Section 1014), the massive defense spending authorization bill for fiscal year 2006, that specifically states that the Iowa MUST go to the city of Stockton, California, provided they submit a suitable application! My guess is that it was House Representative Richard Pombo, R-Tracy, who raised a separate bill with almost identical wording, HR 492, with cosponsor Representative Dennis Cardoza, D-Merced.

Obviously, the issue here is that San Francisco, despite having the dedicated Historic Ships Memorial At Pacific Square Foundation, which has been working since 1996 to provide the planning and resources to berth the Iowa there, is about to be outflanked by congressional fiat. Gryph has provided links to the Iowa's veteran's organization, which is mounting a letter-writing campaign to get this section struck from 1815.

I would go a step further. HR 1815 is currently in the hands of the Senate Armed Forces Committee for review. I would ask that you notify those individual Senators and Senator Diane Feinstein specifically about this provision (SEC. 1014. Transfer of U.S.S. Iowa), and ask that it be removed from the final legislation. Senator Feinstein in particular ought to be particularly receptive, given her heated response.

The Iowa represents an enormous opportunity for my soon-to-be-adopted city of San Francisco, both culturally and economically -- an echo of its maritime and military history as the bastion of defense for the California coast and the Golden Gate, and a nod to its current popularity as a tourist destination. From a gay standpoint, as Gryph previously pointed out, the Iowa's own history presents a natural opening for an exhibit and discussion concerning the attitude towards gays in the military for a city that is symbolically the center of the entire gay liberation movement.

Please don't let this opportunity be lost. Email the San Francisco Board of Supervisors and express your opinion (or, even better for you non-Bay Area folks, get your friends in the Bay Area to do it as well); then contact your Representatives and Senators, as well as the Armed Services members, to let them know that the Historic Ships Memorial at Pacific Square Foundation has spent enormous amounts of dollars and volunteer time to plan and prepare for a museum that will honor those who served, on the Iowa and elsewhere, and be a proud memorial for the history and valor of the United States armed forces. They deserve the opportunity to have the ship and should be allowed to compete, not have that taken away by a provision buried in a massive bill.

Thank you!

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