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.”