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!