* In response to "Clinton Eases Ban on Gays in Military but Restricts Conduct," July 20:
The "don't ask, don't tell" policy is no compromise but repackaged discrimination. The policy includes expulsion of discovered gay and lesbian service people. It mandates discrimination by enforcing a double standard of conduct, placing particular limits on the freedom of speech of lesbian and gay personnel. The policy fails to address the issue of sexual harassment perpetrated by heterosexuals, of which the Tailhook scandal is an example.
Such a discriminatory policy is a blatant violation of President Clinton's campaign promise to lift the ban. We are saddened by the President's unwillingness to stand up for what's right, for his own principles, and make a case to Congress.
GLAAD/LA (Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation/Los Angeles), along with our communities, will continue to fight for equality on every level, in the media, in the courts, the Legislature and the streets.
* This don't ask, don't tell compromise for gays in the military is indeed a compromise. It is a compromise of values, beliefs and ideals. It is saying, "I won't ask you, and you can't tell me because homosexuals do not get equal treatment and do not have equal rights."
The United States is now taking a back-seat role in the fight for freedom around the world, unwilling to acknowledge the mess created in its own back yard.
MICHAEL L. STEMPEL
* The personal attacks on President Clinton in the wake of the unfortunate compromise on gays in the military are both a misdirection of energy and a demonstration of political naivete. There can be little doubt that the President wanted to lift the ban unequivocally. But even the suggestion of such a pronouncement last January gathered conservative forces from both parties who were prepared to override the President's actions.
The President is not an elected dictator who can rule by fiat.
President Clinton is the most sympathetic chief executive that gays have ever had in the White House. No other President has ever suggested the steps that he initially proposed. However, for him to refuse a compromise at this point would be to invite a humiliating congressional defeat and a poisoning of relations with Congress and the military that would jeopardize Clinton's entire legislative agenda.
This imperfect compromise is a small beginning that can lead inexorably to a gradual but inevitable change in the ways gays are viewed in our society. If we are to direct our energy and anger let it be to defeat bigoted legislators like Sens. Sam Nunn and Jesse Helms. Only when we have a Congress that shares the President's sympathies can we put the policies of prejudice and hatred behind us.
* The new policy regarding gays in the military makes sense. Homosexuals can remain in the military as long as they do not openly promote or display their homosexuality. If that offends them, they can leave. The military can get along very nicely without them.
ERNEST T. JOHNSTON
* Simply put, doesn't the new policy regarding gays in the military--don't ask, don't tell--sound a lot like "get back into the closet and we won't knock"? And this took six-months of work by congressional and military "experts"!
* I was amused by the juxtaposition of two articles dealing with homosexuality in the July 16 issue. On the one hand, we learned that the military would be allowed to discriminate against homosexuals, and on the other, we learned that geneticists were finally zeroing in on proof that homosexuality is a natural and genetically determined part of human behavior. It was satisfying for me to see ignorance and bigotry so clearly shown up for what they are. It will be more satisfying when we can point to the gene (or genes) that makes homosexuality an immutable trait and thus immune to discrimination, at least legal discrimination.
More importantly than the single issue of the fair treatment of homosexuals is the broad question of the contribution of science to human ethics. It isn't popular anymore to assert that science can show us what is good or right, but I believe that if we wish to have an ethical system based on what is real, then science can clarify and in some cases even solve our fundamental ethical questions. To the degree that ethics is based on reality, the study of reality must affect ethics positively. The current defensiveness of moral theorists against the encroachment of science is simply the fear which all people feel in the face of the immutable. If something is either true or not, then we can be wrong, which makes us nervous.
We need to embrace and celebrate the insights genetics and neuroscience will give us into ourselves, and be willing to change the views we have that are based only on tradition and prejudice.
JAMES D. NEWMAN
Considering the successful track record that demands from the public accomplished with the tobacco industry, isn't it time the public took on the National Rifle Assn.?
GLENDA N. MADDOX
* I got a big chuckle out of your article, "Ethnic Minorities Now School Board Majority" (July 2). Now let me get this straight. It said that out of the 640,000 students in the Los Angeles Unified School District, 87% were minority and of this minority enrollment, 64% were Latinos.
I know it has been many years (20 to be exact) since I have attended school, but back then we were taught in math and in history that if you have 51% or more of anything it was considered a majority.
Is this the new math?
Williams and LAPD
Your July 17 editorial, "The Mayor and the Police Chief," states that Mayor Richard Riordan and Police Chief Willie L. Williams have to get along. This is only half true. The chief has to get along with the mayor, period. Under the City Charter amendment The Times strongly supported, the chief was stripped of civil service protection. If the mayor and his new Police Commission don't like him, they can fire him summarily for any reason. Thus the chief became merely a political appointee, not an independent professional. The Times apparently assumed that the mayor would always remain a liberal and the chief a conservative, but now the reverse is true. Second thoughts, anyone?
* Re "How Low Can Morale Go? Don't Ask," July 8:
Susan Yocum, LAPD patrol officer and author of the article, is distressed that the LAPD command staff is displaying "an uncontrollable zeal to 'clean up' the department." As a resident of Los Angeles I think they're going in the direction they should have been headed a long time ago.
Under the Daryl Gates regime, officers were backed by a leadership that gave them a false impression of being superior to citizens in the communities they serve. In my opinion the new command is now telling its rank-and-file "the party is over" and yes, if officers cannot and will not perform their duties properly and within departmental policy, they will be dealt with.
We want police officers who feel they are a part of the greater Los Angeles community, and if they don't want to be here, we certainly don't want them here. Please take William Violante's invitation to go to another police agency, so that the city of Los Angeles can continue its healing process.
* It appears Yocum is part of the problem and not the solution. With such finger-pointing and negativity, I suggest she apply for work in a venue other than Los Angeles. Fast, quick and in a hurry.
Covina City Council
* True to the model set down by Howard Jarvis and Paul Gann, the good burghers of Covina have taken the cowardly route of venting their spleen by attacking their City Council ("Voters Angry Over Tax Oust Board," July 14). Covina would have been better served if the recall leaders had proposed an alternative budget incorporating the financial constraints they claim would have prevented their city's money crunch. Maybe it is time for California cities and counties to adopt voter approval of budgets. A ballot would list each line item and two or more alternate figures with a detailed description of the fiscal and social advantages and disadvantages of an up or down vote on each. The voter would be asked to total his choices and if they exceeded a forecast of income, the ballot would be declared invalid. If the total was less than the forecasted income, the residue would be put in a general account. This will eliminate the gutless who now sit back and find fault and refuse to participate in the pigsticking.
LOUIS ST. MARTIN
L.A. Athletic Club
The Los Angeles Athletic Club gets my vote for being a great friend of the community. I have observed its janitorial staff cleaning and sweeping sidewalks as far as two blocks away from the club. Most buildings take care of their own front walk but to see people going far beyond their own responsibility is what will make for a true rebuilding of L.A. If we all just watched out and took care of just our immediate neighbor's property as well as our own, this would have more effect than the proposed 3,000 additional police officers.
R. MARK MATHESON