Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV): I’m Sorry I Wasn’t There To Vote Against DADT Repeal

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), who was the lone Democrat to vote against the Defense Authorization Act when it included the repeal of DADT, now says he regrets not being in DC to also vote against the stand-alone version of the bill.

U.S. Senator Joe Manchin apologized to his constituents Tuesday for missing two key votes over the weekend. Manchin has caught heat from friends and foes alike for failing to be on the Senate floor Saturday to vote on the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and the DREAM Act. Instead he was celebrating Christmas with his grandchildren in Pennsylvania. “Let me apologize to anybody and everybody within our listening and reading areas. I’m very sorry for missing the two votes,” Manchin said during a conference call with reporters Tuesday. For the record, Manchin says he would have voted against both bills. He says he took his cue on Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell from military leaders who felt in the middle of two conflicts now was not the time to change a major policy. And he was not satisfied with the DREAM Act because he wants to see comprehensive immigration change.

Joe. My. God.

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GUEST POST: Mountaineers Deliver Message to Senator Manchin

The following is a guest post from U.S. Army Veteran and repeal advocate Pepe Johnson:

Today Jared Towner and I carried hundreds of petitions and individual letters to the office of West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin III calling on him to support the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” Fairness WV created an election petition Monday morning and in less than 36 hours gathered the names of hundreds of Mountaineers who support integrity and equality in our armed forces. On top of the petition were added numerous handwritten letters from more constituents collected by various volunteers including the WVU Young Democrats.

As I printed the petitions out the night before I was moved. There were names from all over the Mountain State – from Shepherdstown to Bluefield, over to Logan, up the Ohio River Valley to Ripley, Wellsburg and Newell, into the heart of the mountains in Elkins, and across the central and southern part of the state picking up places like Sutton, Hinton, Craigsville, Poca and too many mountain hometowns to mention in this blog post.

I recognized some of the names, too. There were elementary school teachers and high school principals, doctors and nurses, ministers, department store clerks and oil field workers. And a lot of veterans – people I’ve met along the journey we’ve taken in West Virginia for DADT this year. There were friends and family – people I’ve known all my life and new friends I’ve made.

Across this state there are people that truly believe in our state’s motto and believe it applies to everyone – including LGBT Mountaineers. We took their message to Senator Manchin today and we’ll continue to remind him that “Mountaineers are always free.”


Human Rights Campaign | HRC Back Story

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Sen. Manchin: Sorry for DADT Vote

SEN JOE MANCHIN X390 (GETTY) | ADVOCATE.COMSen. Joe Manchin, the only Democratic senator to vote against “don’t
ask, don’t tell” repeal, apologized for his vote and said this was not an issue
of whether he agrees with the law but “an issue of timing.”
Advocate.com: Daily News

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HRC and SLDN Bring WV Veteran Voices to Senator Manchin

In West Virginia, we’re pulling out all the stops to show newly elect Senator Manchin that supporting the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” is the right thing to do. Yesterday, veterans Pepe Johnson and Jared Towner joined SLDN staff member Jeremy Wilson to meet with the Senator’s staff in Washington, D.C. to discuss how DADT has affected each of them.

The group also delivered a video, which was collaboration between the Human Rights Campaign and Servicemembers Legal Defense Network that highlighted the stories of Mountaineer veterans, straight and gay, from around the state.

Jared Towner, who has served three tours of duty in Iraq and is a West Virginia Young Democrat and former staffer for Manchin’s senate campaign, had this to say about yesterday’s meeting:

It was good to see my friends from the Repeal cause again today.  We met with Senator Manchin’s Legislative Aid Joe Ann McLaughlin and his military fellow Sylvia Pletos to talk about the absolute need to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” As a straight veteran who has served in combat, I am fully in support of repeal. I lobbied the late Senator Byrd before his historic vote to support repeal and I will keep fighting until we see the end of this discriminatory law.

While our audience at Senator Manchin’s office was engaged and responsive, we cannot rest on our laurels and assume that the vote is won. We must, as an active constituency, reassure Senator Manchin that his vote for the repeal is what’s best for WV and the nation as a whole.

I made my voice heard today, and I’m asking that you do the same. Please call his D.C. Office at (202) 224-3954 to urge Senator Manchin to support repeal. Our Senator needs to hear from you right now to ensure the end of this repressive and dangerous policy.

Do you live in the Charleston area? We need your help! Please contact me at Christine.Sloane@hrc.org to find out ways to get involved over the coming week. We simply can’t do this without you.


Human Rights Campaign | HRC Back Story

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Mountaineers Ask Joe Manchin to Stand Up for Service Members

At West Virginia University, spirits are high that we can show Senator-elect Joe Manchin that Mountaineers support the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” this year.

Last spring I spent a lot of time here in Morgantown and found tons of support from various pro-equality groups like BiGLTM (Bisexual, Gay, Lesbian and Transgender Mountaineers) at WVU and OUTLaw at the WVU Law School. Also integral to our work are the WVU College Democrats. This past week has proved no different, as we reconnected to get the message to Manchin: repeal this discriminatory law now.

It never ceases to amaze me how personal this issue is to people from every walk of life; gay, straight, veteran and non-veteran.

On Thursday night, BiLGTM brought its members together to write letters to Manchin. One student wrote “Repealing DADT is important to me because my father fought in the Vietnam Conflict, and I know his sexuality has nothing to do with his bravery. Anybody who is willing to put his or her life on the line for our country should not be discriminated against”.

What matters in this campaign is that our Senators hear these stories in the most powerful way. It wouldn’t be possible for me to help West Virginian’s ensure their stories are told without the help of Fairness West Virginia. Fairness has been absolutely important to our work to repeal DADT this year. We’re continuing to work side by side to ensure that Senator-elect Manchin hears our message.

Can you make a phone call? Can you host a letter-writing party like BiGLTM did? Former Army Sergeant Pepe Johnson, who sits on boards for both Fairness West Virginia and Servicemembers Legal Defense Network will be delivering hand written letters directly to the Senator-elect’s office.

We hope that we’ll have your story in hand. Please contact me today at Christine.Sloane@hrc.org for more information.


Human Rights Campaign | HRC Back Story

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WEST VIRGINIA: Teabaggers Use Stephen Colbert Against Gov. Joe Manchin

Joe. My. God.

—  John Wright