Last week, while most were still recovering from the July 4th weekend, HRC staff and volunteers worked across Virginia on the campaign to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” Following a very successful meeting with Senator Mark Warner’s Vienna staff, veterans and military families held meetings with the Senator’s offices in Roanoke, Richmond and Norfolk. With a repeal vote expected in the U.S. Senate in the near future, our team has been feverishly working to lock down a commitment from Senator Mark Warner. While he has yet to come out publicly in support of repeal, we are hopeful that he will hear the calls from the veterans and constituents across the Commonwealth who want him to stand up for this commonsense legislation. If you live in Virginia, give his DC office a ring today and ask that he support repeal of this discriminatory law. His staff can be reached at 202-224-2023.

On Saturday and Sunday, HRC staff and volunteers attended and worked the Blackbeard Festival in Hampton, Virginia. The event, aimed at celebrating Hampton’s 400th Anniversary and the local pirate history, drew thousands of Virginians. Salty landlubbers and rowdy swashbucklers alike supported repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and our staff and volunteers had a great time. Interesting gender-bending Virginia factoid: A good number of colonial-era women lived as men to serve and fight on the pirate ships. Who knew? Thanks to all the Pirates for their support and willingness to tell us about the local history!

I am confident Senator Warner has heard that veterans and military families are beating the drum for repeal, and I’m cautiously optimistic he will stand up and do the right thing. Virginians are overwhelming in favor of repeal, and until DADT is repealed we’ll be across Virginia working to demonstrate broad grassroots support. Keep an eye out for an HRC organizer in your neck of the woods!

P.S. If you live in the Richmond-metro area, join us this Saturday, July 17th at 1pm for a town hall forum and movie screening. Hosted by the Gay Community Center of Richmond, the event will feature a screening of the award winning film “Ask Not.” Participants will have a chance to learn about the state of the repeal movement, and also find out how to get more involved. The Center is located at 1407 Sherwood Avenue in Richmond. To RSVP, or if you have any questions, please email me at

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