Senator Snowe Joins Other GOP Voices Supporting Repeal

It has been an incredible few weeks up here in Maine. Along with my fellow organizers, David Turley and Jeremy Kennedy, I have been working around the clock and braving cold New England temperatures to keep the pressure on Maine’s senators to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” this year.  We had a big breakthrough last night, when shortly after the House passed a standalone repeal bill, Senator Olympia Snowe announced her support of the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”  To have both of Maine’s Republican senators now in support of repeal is a wonderful testament  to the progress  made.

Last week we worked with the Allen Avenue Unitarian Universalist Church in Portland, Maine. Eager parishioners, some of whom were military veterans, signed petitions and called their senator to urge them to support repeal. Over the last several weeks, we have generated an absolute blitz of constituent  phone calls and letters from all over the state.

It could have been the petitions, handwritten letters delivered by local veterans, phone calls and meetings that helped move the ball down the field. Whatever it was, Snowe’s announcement told me that we had been successful in delivering the message that Mainers overwhelmingly support repeal. Thank you for all of your hard work!

Joining veterans on a visit to Senator Snowe's office to deliver hundreds of letters and petitions

To see the work of volunteers, veterans and organizers pay off is among the most rewarding feelings. We are all so overwhelmed by this progress, but we can’t yet rest on our laurels yet. We’re now thanking the senators for their support, and urging them to keep up the pressure to bring this to a vote before the end of the 111th Congress.

Contact your friends,  family, and neighbors and ask them to call their Senators and do the same. No matter where you are, I hope that you will call the Capitol switchboard at (202) 224-3121 and ask them to connect you to your Senators. Urge them to support the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” this year.  If you’d like to volunteer with us in Maine, please contact Jessica Osborn at Jessica.osborn@hrc.org.


Human Rights Campaign | HRC Back Story

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‘Don’t Trust, Don’t Believe’

Meghan Stabler

By Meghan Stabler |  HRC Board of Directors, Houston

“I’m a politician which means I’m a cheat and a liar, and when I’m not kissing babies I’m stealing their lollipops. But it also means I keep my options open.”

Sure, it’s a movie line, and it’s a comment that I use in some of my speeches regarding politicians, but it is also so true.

We are maybe 48 hours from a vote to finally repeal the discriminatory law called “don’t ask don’t tell.” Yet there is significant risk! Not passing now will likely put repeal on hold for a minimum of two-plus years.

Our opponents are doing whatever they can to stop the bill. I just received this message from one group called Public Advocate of the United States: “All the Homosexual Lobby needs is for their lapdogs in the Senate to rubber stamp the bill and it will go to Barack Obama’s desk for his signature. And unless you take action RIGHT NOW, he’s going to succeed. Tell [your Senator] to PROTECT our armed forces and vote AGAINST the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

So our opponents are making all the last minute calls to Congress they can.  Is our community?

Now is not the time for us to rest, now is not the time for us to stop calling Congress.

Just because a senator says they will vote for DADT repeal means they’re keeping options open, just as the politician said in the Hunt for Red October quote at the opening of my note. We need some Republicans to vote YES, but just because they or their staffers say they will is no guarantee. If they are not a bill co-sponsor, then their vote is still an at-risk one.

So, share this note to your friends. Ensure they keep calling. Then call again. And again. Ask that they co-sponsor the bill. If not, hound them to do so, and make sure they understand history is the measure of actions of the past.

Keep calling. Call 202-224-Murkowski-6665, Snowe-5344, Voinovich-3353, Lugar-4814, Gregg-3324, Kirk-2854, Brown-4543.

—  admin

Senator Olympia Snowe (R-ME) Says She’ll Vote for ‘DADT’ Repeal

As the measure to repeal "DADT" now heads to the Senate for approval, Senator Olympia Snowe of Maine says she'll do the right thing.

Said Snowe in a statement: Snowe.jpg

"After careful analysis of the comprehensive report compiled by the Department of Defense and thorough consideration of the testimony provided by the Secretary of Defense, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the service chiefs, I support repeal of the 'don’t ask, don’t tell' law."

Snowe was a "no" vote in last week's failed attempt to pass the Defense authorization bill with 'DADT' repeal attached as an amendment.


Towleroad News #gay

—  admin

Sen. Olympia Snowe To Support Repeal

Joe. My. God.

—  admin

Portland calls on Sens. Collins and Snowe for Repeal

After a great Thanksgiving holiday with my family, I am back out on the road. Each year, I am especially thankful for all the men and women who serve in the Armed Forces to ensure my freedom. Now that I am back out, I am headed to Portland, Maine, where we are already hard at work in our efforts to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

Yesterday, HRC teamed up with Organizing for America and Equality Maine in beautiful Portland for a phone bank to urge Mainers to contact Senators Collins and Snowe about repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” in this lame-duck session of Congress.  The law discriminates against gay, lesbian and bisexual military members, and it is long overdue for repeal. We were able to contact many constituents who agreed to call their Senators right after our conversations. Many even agreed to join us in the fight to repeal by signing up to volunteer for our next phone bank. It was great to see Mainers stay involved with the campaign after a hectic election cycle and after getting stuffed for the holiday.

Even after learning the positive results of the Pentagon’s study about open service and military readiness, we continue to put pressure on the Senate to vote for repeal. The study shows that a strong majority of our men and women in uniform and their families have no issue with gays and lesbians serving their country openly.

If you have already called, emailed or visited your Senators about repealing DADT, please do it again. We are so close to victory.  We are in a state of emergency of now and we need all hands on deck.  Contact your friends, your family, your neighbors and ask them to call their Senators and urge them to vote for repeal.  To call your Senators, call Congress at (202) 224-3121 and urge your Senators to support the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” If you’d like to volunteer with us in Maine, please contact Jessica Osborn at Jessica.osborn@hrc.org.


Human Rights Campaign | HRC Back Story

—  admin

Maine Senators Snowe and Collins Release Statements on DADT As Senate Prepares to Vote on Cloture

In their write-up of the SLDN – Lady Gaga rally in Maine, the NYT posts responses from the two senators (Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins) which the rally, which took place in Portland, meant to pressure:

Soldier In an e-mail message, Kevin Kelley, a spokesman for Ms. Collins, said she was the only Republican on the Armed Forces committee to vote for a repeal and “She believes that our Armed Forces should welcome the service of any qualified individual who is willing and capable to serve our country.” However, she is calling for an open debate and allowing members to offer amendments.

In a statement, Ms. Snowe said the law is due "for a thorough review," but wants a comprehensive review complete before a vote is taken.

Here's Snowe's full statement.

The White House offered a lame statement.

If you haven't called your senator, now is the time.

According to Alex Nicholson at Servicemembers United, here's what's happening tomorrow on DADT:

Tomorrow the Senate will vote at 2:15pm on cloture for the motion to proceed to debate on NDAA. All that means is that we need 60 votes tomorrow to move forward.

The good news is that we had the 60 votes lined up (a few more than 60, in fact) and we were ready to move forward as NDAA normally does. The bad news is that Senator Reid, the Senate Majority Leader, just changed the terms of the debate to slight even the moderate Republicans who were lined up to vote with us to break the filibuster.

So now, this is where we are… either Senator Reid needs to change his mind and let at least some Republicans have an amendment or two of their own, or one or two Republicans need to vote to break the filibuster without the ability to offer any of their own amendments to other areas of NDAA. 

So there are two things you can do:

1. You can call Senator Reid's office and tell him to return to the original terms of amendments and debate for NDAA (the orginal terms that had us the 60 votes locked down).

and/or

2. You can call the 5 Republicans who were either going to or likely to vote to break the filibuster under the original terms of debate for NDAA (Susan Collins, Dick Lugar, George Voinovich, Olympia Snowe, and Scott Brown) and ask them to vote to break the filibuster anyway.

My suggestion is that we all do BOTH! No one can be let off the hook here. Please call these senate offices today and tomorrow. Numbers are below.

Alex Nicholson
Executive Director
Servicemembers United

Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV)
Senate Majority Leader
(202) 224-3542

Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME)
(202) 224-2523

Sen. Dick Lugar (R-IN)
(202) 224-4814

Sen. George Voinovich (R-OH)
(202) 224-3353

Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME)
(202) 224-5344

Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA)
(202) 224-4543

Here's the Washington Post's look at tomorrow's vote:

"The vote is expected to be close but is almost certain to pass if Democrats can break a Republican-led filibuster. The House passed a similar measure in May, and a House-Senate compromise version is expected to pass both chambers after the November midterm elections. But even if Tuesday's vote succeeds, Senate aides said Republicans may introduce an amendment this week that would remove the repeal from the defense bill."


Towleroad News #gay

—  John Wright

SCREWED: Olympia Snowe wants to see the Pentagon report before voting

From Sen. Snowe’s web site, dated today:

SNOWE STATEMENT ON DEFENSE AUTHORIZATION BILL

September 20, 2010

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Olympia J. Snowe (R-Maine) released the following statement regarding tomorrow’s procedural vote on the Defense authorization bill and the majority’s intention to limit the number of amendments considered:

“First and foremost, the Senate should have the ability to debate more than the three amendments the Majority Leader is allowing, especially as this bill is the largest discretionary authorization measure that Congress considers, that the bill describes the policies and programs that provide resources and direction to the nearly 2.4 million men and women of the military – active, reserve and civilians, including the courageous Americans serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, and that two of the three amendments don’t even relate to the military.  It is therefore imperative that Senate deliberations on the defense bill be conducted without limitations and in a manner that allows for the consideration of all related amendments that Senators may wish to offer.  

“Moreover, as I have previously stated, given that the law implementing the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy has been in place for nearly 17 years, I agree that it is overdue for a thorough review.  The question is, whether we should be voting on this issue before we have the benefit of the comprehensive review that President Obama’s Secretary of Defense ordered in March, to secure the input of our men and women in uniform during this time of war – as the Joint Chiefs of Staff from all of the services have requested prior to any vote.  We should all have the opportunity to review that report which is to be completed on December 1, as we reevaluate this policy and the implementation of any new changes.”

Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

—  John Wright

Monday: Veterans, Lady Gaga to Maine to press Sens. Snowe, Collins to break DADT filibuster

BREAKING VIA TWITTER: @ladygaga Meet me in Portland, Maine 2moro, 9/20 to help repeal #DADT. I’m holding a Rally + speaking live in Deering Oaks Park http://bit.ly/cO4cY9

– Lady Gaga to her 6.3 million followers today

And she is marshalling her forces with focus — on Maine, a state with two Republican senators — who may be convinced to vote with Dems to break any McCain filibuster on DADT repeal language in the Def Auth bill. (SLDN):

Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN), a national, legal services and policy organization dedicated to ending “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT), will be holding a grassroots rally with young people near the University of Southern Maine campus on Monday, September 20, 2010, at 4:00 p.m. ET, at Deering Oaks Park, Portland, ME, in a major Senate push to break the expected filibuster by Sen. John McCain of the National Defense Authorization Act, to which repeal is included.  The key U.S. Senate vote is scheduled for 2:15 p.m. on Tuesday.

The votes to break McCain’s filibuster are not there.  We need Sens. Snowe and Collins on board; they’re key to us breaking the filibuster,” said Aubrey Sarvis, Army veteran and executive director for Servicemembers Legal Defense Network.  ”With the vote less than 48 hours away, we need everyone supporting repeal to call the Senate.  We’re bringing gay and straight service members to Portland to help make the case.  And we’re proud to have the support of Lady Gaga to bring grassroots attention to repeal at a critical hour.  Like Lady Gaga, all New England senators, indeed all 100 senators, Democrats and Republicans, need to engage in a real debate on this issue, and not just posture and spin this week over procedure and Senate rules.”

As we saw during the VMAs, Lady Gaga attended with service members affected by DADT (photo), and SLDN director of communications, Trevor Thomas, has acknowledged that the influence of Gaga on the lobbying process has made a substantial impact, and it’s needed again to reach out to even more people in the next 48 hours. (via Kerry Eleveld):

“We know that Lady Gaga can move young people,” Thomas said, noting that she has more followers on twitter than the president (@ladygaga edges out @BarackObama by nearly a million followers). He added that SLDN had been sending action alerts to its 80,000 subscribers asking them to call their senators for the past several weeks. Short of the Gaga intervention, he said his organization would simply be sending out the same action alert on Monday that it did on Friday.

The power of celebrity combined with the reach of social networking has changed the game for activism and spreading the word on short notice. It’s a larger reach than a press release or mailing list when you’ve got a clock ticking down on a critical legislative matter like this. Lady Gaga deserves incredible kudos for harnessing the energy of young people out there to press allies — and potential allies — to act.

Note: 1,000,000+ watched Lady Gaga’s call to action online; and 237,131 people visited SLDN’s action Site as a result — 91.62% were first-time visitors.

For tomorrow’s event, follow the Twitter hashtag: #4the14k – “For the 14,000″: A Rally for the 14,000+ Discharged
Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

—  John Wright

BREAKING: Lady Gaga and SLDN will rally for DADT repeal in Portland, ME – targeting Collins & Snowe

This is BIG. Lady Gaga just tweeted:

Meet me in Portland, Maine 2moro, 9/20 to help repeal #DADT. I’m holding a Rally + speaking live in Deering Oaks Park http://bit.ly/cO4cY9

Yes, our truly fierce advocate is on her way to my hometown, Portland, Maine, to hold a rally with SLDN to push for the repeal of DADT. The targets are Maine’s Republican Senators: Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe.

The rally, called “For the 14,000”: A Rally for the 14,000+ Discharged” is tomorrow at 4:00 PM Eastern in Deering Oaks Park. For you tweeters, the hashtag is #4the14k.

This is very, very strategic on the part of SLDN and Lady Gaga.

Here’s what SLDN’s Aubrey Sarvis said, via press release:

The votes to break McCain’s filibuster are not there. We need Sens. Snowe and Collins on board; they’re key to us breaking the filibuster. With the vote less than 48 hours away, we need everyone supporting repeal to call the Senate. We’re bringing gay and straight service members to Portland to help make the case. And we’re proud to have the support of Lady Gaga to bring grassroots attention to repeal at a critical hour. Like Lady Gaga, all New England senators, indeed all 100 senators, Democrats and Republicans, need to engage in a real debate on this issue, and not just posture and spin this week over procedure and Senate rules.

So, that’s the situation. It’s dire.

As Aubrey notes, right now, we don’t have the 60 votes to break the GOP filibuster of the Defense Authorization. Senator Susan Collins already voted for that very bill in the Senate Armed Services Committee on May 27, 2010. Collins is now playing partisan procedural games to rationalize her support for the filibuster. It’s gross. Maine’s other Senator, Olympia Snowe, should do the right thing, too. She is playing the same game.

The usual lobbying tactics aren’t working. So, desperate times call for new and innovative tactics. And, this is one of the most sophisticated lobbying efforts I’ve seen in a long time.

They’re taking the fight right to Collins and Snowe — in a way that no other issue or group has. This event will be noticed in Maine. It’s so much smarter than bringing another celebrity to DC, where political media is so cynical. Again, Gaga has over 6,390,000 followers on twitter. And, she’s got over 18,255,000 fans on Facebook. No political organization in DC has anything that compares to that kind of outreach.

The 14,000 gay and lesbian servicemembers who have been discharged under DADT and the 60,000 gay and lesbian servicemembers still serving have been waiting 17 years for this vote. It’s not a political or procedural game for them — it’s their lives and they’re willing to put their lives on the line for the rest of us. And, the time is now.

Lady Gaga has been using her extensive bully pulpit to elevate the DADT repeal issue for the past several weeks. It’s been very, very impressive. (Meanwhile, despite the impending vote and the GOP filibuster, President Obama has been largely silent on this issue, which, sadly, is not a surprise.)

This week, the action is in the Senate. Collins and Snowe are the targets. Now, they can’t hide. They’re going to have a very powerful spotlight on them, thanks to Lady Gaga and SLDN.

Maine is the best chance we have. If Collins and Snowe abandon the gay and lesbian servicemembers, it could be a long time before we get another vote.

I’ll have more as events unfold…the next two days are going to be wild.




AMERICAblog Gay

—  John Wright