Monday, January 09, 2006

 

USS Iowa could be minority museum

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Quad-City Times
January 05, 2006


Turning a battleship around is never easy — especially in the politically roiled waters of the San Francisco Bay.

Last July, San Francisco’s county supervisors voted 8-3 against bringing the vintage World War II battleship Iowa to San Francisco as a permanent tourist attraction. Some opponents said they were taking a stand against both the war in Iraq and a military that boots out gays and lesbians, a powerful faction in local politics.

But now, advocates of the move are trying to woo the supervisors with a promise to create a privately funded dockside museum that will tell the story of minorities in the military, including lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender troops.

“Our feeling was that this would make it a better fit for San Francisco,” said Jim Maloney, director of the Military Education Initiative, a group that supports the lifting of restrictions on gays in the military. “Adding in the component of LGBT service would be obviously quite unique,” he said.

The new plan also calls for an annual peace symposium on the Iowa, which has a storied record of combat in the South Pacific and off the Korean coast.

Franklin D. Roosevelt’s favorite battleship, the Iowa carried him to Casablanca, Morocco, in 1943, en route to a conference of Allied leaders in Tehran, Iran.

In 1989, 47 crew members were killed in a shipboard explosion that officials blamed on a sailor who they said was involved in a failed gay relationship. The Navy later backed away from that explanation, ruling that the explosion was an accident and apologizing to the family of the dead sailor.

“That’s a story that deserves to be told,” Maloney said.


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