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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‘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.

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