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How Dornan Town Hall Meeting Was Disrupted

October 16, 1988

Since the beginning of this unfortunate media circus about my brother, I have done my very best to avoid perpetuating it. Yet the press has literally hounded me by phone at my home, my daughter's home, my husband's office and also in public to satisfy a perverse appetite for tales of personal pain regardless of who gets hurt in the process. In order to defend myself in the press, I would have had to reveal family problems that simply were no one's business. So I just tried to keep quiet.

I am breaking my silence now, however, your articles have been so hurtful and so unkind. I have never imagined (as if I were some hallucinogenic nut) that my brother had AIDS. From individuals on my side of the family and from my brother's friends I was told he had AIDS . I was also told that my brother's roommate died of AIDS. I had no reason to doubt what they were saying was true. Happily I have been proven wrong.

I know there are families out there who had had pain just as the Dornan and Hansen families have had. You just don't expect to see personal pain on the front page of newspapers. Even though I am the wife of a congressman, this incident had nothing to do with Bob's role or with his congressional duties. Surely I have some rights to privacy and most certainly so does my brother.

Yes, it was my mistake for ever bringing up my brother at my husband's congressional town hall meeting and for mentioning as fact something about which I did not have conclusive proof. But I never mentioned my brother by name; my husband accidentally mentioned it in a kind way during private questioning by reporters after the town hall meeting. We asked you not to print it, to leave it alone, to leave my brother alone, but you would not. You relentlessly invaded my privacy, my family's privacy and my brother's privacy. And it provided a tacky vehicle to try to ridicule and embarrass my husband for his opposition to the promotion of homosexuality as a happy life style that young Americans should consider.

I honestly don't think I'll ever get use to political reporting; it's a dirty business.

With respect to the outburst against my husband at his town hall meeting, I am reminded of the immortal words of Gen. George S. Patton (in response to a furor over his slapping an enlisted man): "If I had known all this would happen I would have kissed the little S.O.B."

MRS. SALLIE H. DORNAN

Garden Grove

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