Veterans Across Ohio Push Senator Voinovich to Stand Up for Repeal

Yesterday, HRC held simultaneous public forums with veterans affected by the harmful “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT) policy in Cleveland and Columbus.  The events, covered by local media, were held at the Cleveland City Hall where Senator George Voinovich cut his political teeth decades ago as Cleveland Mayor, and the Ohio Statehouse where he served as Governor.  Repeal advocates wanted to respectfully remind the Senator that he has bucked the more conservative elements of his party when it was the right thing to do – as it is the right thing to do with repealing this discriminatory law.

In Cleveland, Major General Dennis Laich and Cleveland City Councilman Joe Cimperman were joined by four Ohio veterans who stood up to tell their stories and make their voices heard.  Brian Tupaz, Robert Tackett, Marie Bohousch and Mark Szabo each took to the stage to share publicly their personal experience with DADT.  Their stories serve as a painful reminder of how this law has failed our service members and our country.

Two and a half hours south by southwest, at the Ohio Statehouse, Claudia Mason and David Goetz echoed those in Cleveland and called on Senator Voinovich to publicly declare his support for DADT repeal. They reminded him that he has stood on the side of equality before, voting in favor of the Matthew Shepard/James Byrd Jr. Hates Crimes Prevention Act last year, and should honor the 14,000 service members who have been discharged under this discriminatory law by voting to end this law.

Claudia, a retired Army Lieutenant Colonel from Dayton, is a straight ally and is outspoken about the importance of repealing this law. She called on Senator Voinovich to join his fellow Buckeye, Senator Sherrod Brown and listen to the recommendation from the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Secretary Gates in supporting repeal this year.

Also this week, members of the Columbus steering committee joined Collin and me at the Ohio Democratic Party offices to call repeal supporters and urge them to call on Senator Voinovich to support repeal this year. If you’re a Buckeye, make your voice heard by calling Senator Voinovich at 202.224.3353.

We’ll be putting the pressure on Senator Voinovich and urging him to join the ranks of supportive Republicans like Senator Scott Brown of Massachusetts and Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” this year. Now is the last opportunity for Voinovich to stand on the side of equality. With a vote in the Senate on repeal of DADT expected as early as Saturday morning, Senator Voinovich needs to hear from you NOW!

Human Rights Campaign | HRC Back Story

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Levin: Obama not doing all he can/should to push for DADT repeal

Pretty damning words from the Chairman of the Armed Services Committee. And, I might add, this is what Joe and I have been saying for two years now, about issue after issue: The President isn’t giving his all. We’ve been criticized by those who don’t understand how the presidency works (or who have an interest, usually financial or cocktail-based), in sucking up to the administration). The apologists keep saying the President has done everything he can. Levin says otherwise.

From ThinkProgress:

The way I think the President needs to fight is to say that he is going to use all of the power he has of a bully pulpit and urge the Senate to stay in, right up to New Years. … [T]hat’s the problem, that I don’t see that kind of a willingness to fight that hard, where he will take that kind of a position, and that’s what’s necessary. The Senate and the House, these are tests of wills.


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Because the Grinch doesn’t win: Pro-fairness Sens. push SB 4022

Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT), Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO), Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), and GOP Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) have made it official:


The bill will go straight to the floor, thanks to a little known provision called Rule 14.

The moderate Republicans will go straight to “aye,” thanks to little known reasoning not to.

This policy will inevitably go to the dustbin of history, thanks to a much known ruler that measures the longterm arc rather than short-term partisan whims.

That’s the plan, at least.


*Call your senators (especially in key areas):

Lisa Murkowski (R-AK): 202-224-6665

George Voinovich (R-OH): 202-224-3353

Olympia Snowe (R-ME): 202-224-5344

Richard Lugar (R-IN): 202-224-4814

Judd Gregg (R-NH): 202-224-3324

Scott Brown (R-MA): 202-224-4543

Kit Bond (R-MO): 202-224-5721

Mark Kirk (R-IL): 202-224-2854

Joe Manchin (D-WV): 202-224-3954

*MORE: Call your senator now and tell them not to go home until DADT is repealed [Courage]


*SEE ALSO: Obama supports free-standing bill to repeal DADT [Wash Blade]

Good As You

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AP: ‘The rejection was a defeat for Obama… in recent weeks the White House has done little to push’ repeal

Associated Press:

The rejection was a defeat for Obama, who campaigned promising to overturn the law and later called it one of his top legislative priorities for the year. But in recent weeks the White House has done little to push the legislation, focusing its influence instead on tax cuts and a nuclear arms treaty with Russia.

Can’t say we didn’t warn them.

Obviously, this is resonating at the White House. Jake Tapper just did a two-part tweet that reads:

WH spox: POTUS “committed to working with Congress to achieve a repeal of #DADT this year


and is “willing to explore all legislative options to reach this goal during the lame duck session.” 2/2 #DADT

We need to see the President sending this message — not a spokesperson. And, we need to see hear and see the President make the statement, not get it by email.

President Obama should know by now that the disillusionment is justified.


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Virigina Students Push Webb and Warner on Repeal

The following is from HRC Field Organizer Sarah Showalter:

As a Virginia resident and new member of the HRC team, I was very excited to hit the ground today in Richmond. I am already overwhelmed by the community support for the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” here in my hometown.  We hit the streets of Virginia Commonwealth University this morning to find that students are very supportive of our continued efforts to end this discriminatory law once and for all.  Students at VCU are energized and ready to take action by calling Senators Warner and Webb. A student film crew even stopped us on the street for an interview about our actions on campus.  It was very exciting to meet so many people who realize that the time for repeal is NOW!

If you are a family member of a veteran or active duty service member from Virginia, please call Senator Webb’s office today at 202-224-4024 and ask him to put aside politics and pass the National Defense Authorization Act with language that repeals “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

To get involved in our DADT efforts in Virginia, please call Sarah Showalter at 804-283-5435 or email me at Time is short. We need your help.

Human Rights Campaign | HRC Back Story

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Organizers Continue to Push Senator Murkowski on Repeal

It’s been five days on the ground here in Alaska and the excitement about repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” during the lame duck session this year is growing.  We’ve had hundreds of Alaskans take action to urge Sen. Lisa Murkowski to vote for the National Defense Authorization Act, the defense appropriations bill which also contains repeal language.

Not only have we been successful with mobilizing the grassroots to take action, but I have been meeting with leaders of the LGBT and larger progressive communities, as well as reasonable voices within the Republican Party to mobilize support from a “grasstops” perspective.  We’ve also identified dozens of veterans who are supportive of repeal in the state who are taking action by calling and writing to Sen. Murkowski, and submitting letters to the editor of their local newspaper.

Here in Alaska, especially during the winter when it’s cold and dark much of the day, you have to go where the people are in order to get the job done.  So whether that meant catching people to take action at a Rocky Horror Picture Show or grabbing students at the University of Alaska – Anchorage and Alaska Pacific University to make phone calls, that’s what we did.

It’s been long days and we’ve come so far, but the journey toward open service is not yet complete.  If you’d like to help carry the torch in Alaska, please contact me at

Human Rights Campaign | HRC Back Story

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HRC in Indiana to Push Senator Lugar on Repeal

With elections all wrapped up, it is more important than ever to stay focused on the important work that the current Congress must still do. As the Senate reconvenes next week, they have the chance to take final action on the National Defense Authorization Act of 2011. Last year, Senator Lugar was one of a handful of Republicans who joined with the Democratic majority to vote for the NDAA which included the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Protection Act, and he has the chance to do the same this year with “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” attached. Without Senate action this year, it would be the first time in nearly half a century that  Congress has failed to pass this critical legislation.

I touched down in the Hoosier state on Sunday afternoon and started running to keep up the support for repeal this year. After spending significant time out here earlier this year, and working to urge Senator Bayh to vote in favor of repeal in the Senate Armed Service Committee, it was easy to jump right back in and switch to pushing for Senator Lugar to do the same now, and to support repealing this discriminatory law.

We’ll be out here working to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” by mobilizing our grassroots folk on the ground, as well as our veteran allies, to contact Senator Lugar and insist that he do the right thing. If you’d like to get involved and help repeal this discriminatory law, contact me at

Additionally, If you’re in the Bloomington area next week, join HRC and the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network for a discussion with Major General Dennis J. Laich.

What: “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”: A Veteran’s Perspective

When: Thursday, November 18th, 2010, 12 noon

Where: Maurer School of Law, Room 123, IU Bloomington Bloomington, IN 47405

Human Rights Campaign | HRC Back Story

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Is Iowa’s Incoming Gov. Terry Branstad Going to Cave To A Conservative Push to Ban Gay Marriage?

Back when Iowa's Governor-elect Terry Branstad was campaigning, he told the Cedar Rapids Gazette that he supported civil unions for gays — a remark that came only after he denounced same-sex marriage as what caused the ruin of "ancient societies," and argued only children raised by a father and a mother truly do well in life. And so, while saying he was fine "with people that want to live together and raise a child and things like that," he declared he did not want the state to hold a constitutional convention to overturn the State Supreme Court's same-sex marriage ruling. Too bad: Conservatives are going to push him to do it.


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Polis, Progressive Caucus Push Pelosi on ENDA


Nancy Pelosi has by now grown accustomed to being the Republican and Tea Parties' enemy number one. With the House Speaker's lethargic approach to Employment Non-Discrimination, however, she's increasingly finding herself being criticized by progressives, including those in her own party.

Out and proud Rep. Jared Polis, as well as fellow Congressional Progressive Caucus members, co-chairs Rep. Lynn C. Woolsey and Rep. Raul Grijalva, all Democrats, have started what will hopefully be a chorus of Congressional opposition to ENDA with a letter urging Pelosi to enact ENDA.

Rather than focusing completely on that old, worn out equality argument, however, the letter takes aim at ENDA's economic necessity in a time of financial uncertainty. It's a shrewd move.

"As our economy works to recover, now seems the right time to thrust the American workforce into the 21st century with legislation that addresses discriminatory workplace practices," reads the missive, obtained by the Washington Blade and currently being circulated for signatories.

"Already struggling with an unemployment rate of over 9 percent, the American worker should not need to contend with an employer’s personal discomfort or bias against the sexual orientation or gender identity of an employee."

The signatories conclude on a surprisingly accusatory note, telling Speaker Pelosi, "Turning a blind eye to harassment and discrimination against the LGBT community has too long been a stain on our otherwise proud record of worker protection."

It's unclear whether Polis and other progressive Democrats will be able to push Pelosi further than she's gone — which isn't very far, especially considering that Pelosi has said ENDA won't be approached until after DADT's repeal, an seemingly far-off goal — but at least they're trying.

Read the entire letter, AFTER THE JUMP…

    The Honorable Nancy Pelosi
    Speaker of the House
    US House of Representatives
    H 232, the Capitol
    Washington, D.C. 20515

    Dear Madam Speaker:

    Members of the Progressive Caucus thank you for unrelenting support for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community and for making American jobs a top priority for the 111th Congress. Now is a dire time for the American worker and we believe, H.R. 3017, the Employee Nondiscrimination Act is a vital piece in our economic recovery. With the support of the Democratic leadership and the demonstrated commitment of the Administration, we believe this Congress will finally shut the door on employee discrimination.

    For nearly 20 years progressive members of Congress have been fighting to end discrimination and create a fair and equitable workplace for the LGBT community. In a metaanalysis conducted by the Williams Institute, statistics revealed a persistent and unacceptable trend towards open harassment, unfair hiring practices, unwarranted firings and unequal pay. As a caucus concerned with open-minded and progressive views, we take exception to this blatant mistreatment.

    As our economy works to recover, now seems the right time to thrust the American workforce into the 21st century with legislation that addresses discriminatory workplace practices. Already struggling with an unemployment rate of over 9 percent, the American worker should not need to contend with an employer’s personal discomfort or bias against the sexual orientation or gender identity of an employee. States that have adopted anti-discrimination laws report higher employee satisfaction and company morale. Unfortunately, there are only 20 states and the District of Columbia with these policies in place and 12 that also encompass thetransgender community.

    Employment, promotions and retention should be based on merit and merit alone. For the individual this means a safe and productive work environment where there is a focus on results not a preoccupation with their choice in partner or gender identity. Employers, too, should set their sights on an egalitarian workplace that encourages a sense of community and teamwork. In fact, 94 percent of Fortune 100 companies have antidiscrimination policies protecting lesbian and gay employees and 60 percent protect transgender employees. The best companies hire, promote and retain the best talent, all of which is only made possible by creating a supportive and accepting environment.

    ENDA will put the LGBT community on an even footing with every other employee. Turning a blind eye to harassment and discrimination against the LGBT community has too long been a stain on our otherwise proud record of worker protection. It is imperative to shine a light on this issue and add yet another achievement to this exceptionally accomplished Congress.

    We look forward to working with you and to enact ENDA in the 111th Congress.


    Raul Grijalva, CPC Co-Chair


    Lynn Woolsey, CPC Co-Chair

    Jared Polis, CPC Member

Image via TalkNewsMedia's Flickr.

Towleroad News #gay

—  John Wright