Monday, July 27, 2009

Stonewall Democrats Thank Harry Reid for Standing Strong on DADT

I just got this message from the National Stonewall Democrats. I guess, at least for now, we have some reason to be proud of our Senior Senator. Harry Reid seems to be growing some spine on LGBT civil rights. I hope he follows through, and I hope he doesn't give in on health care.

But enough of my ranting, let's talk good news today. :-)

Stonewall Democrats applauds Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid for his recent leadership on issues of importance to LGBT and allied Democrats. Senator Reid's public call for a "permanent" moratorium on the discriminatory "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy and his saavy handling of a successful cloture vote on the Matthew Shepard Actwere strong demonstrations of his commitment to the LGBT community, and are worthy of commendation.

The 1993 law known as "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" bars gays and lesbians from serving openly in the military. Since the inception of the policy, more than 13,000 people have been discharged solely on the basis of sexual orientation, including many with specialized or unique skills and language training.

When asked about a proposal being offered by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) that would suspend the discharge of gay and lesbian service members for 18 months, Senator Reid declared his support, and then went even further - he stated that he would like to see a full repeal of the ban, saying "If Kirsten offers this amendment I will support it... my only difference I would have is I would make it permanent."

In addition, Senator Reid's strong leadership and impassioned rhetoric on behalf of the Matthew Shepard Act were instrumental in the bill's passage.

"For the last decade, Matthew Shepard's name has been associated with hate crimes. When this bill passes, his name wil thereafter be associated with justice," Senator Reid said.

Stonewall Democrats Communications Director Jenna Lowenstein commented: "Stonewall Democrats congratulates Senator Reid for taking such a principled stand on these issues of critical importance to LGBT and allied people. His position on "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" indicates an understanding that the law is both an affront to fairness and equality and detrimental to our national security. And his eloquent statements on behalf of hate crimes legislation were heartfelt and important to the bill's success."

She added, "The Stonewall Democrats of Southern Nevada a long history of supporting Senator Reid and working with him on important issues. Such strong actions from the Senator are a validation of the chapter's past and future work on his behalf."

In addition to doing direct voter contact for his past reelection campaigns, the chapter and its members have hosted several successful LGBT-focused fundraisers for Senator Reid. In addition, past work of the Stonewall Democrats of Southern Nevada has been instrumental in shaping Senator Reid's views on LGBT issues, including his opposition to the federal marriage amendment in 2004.

With more than 120 local chapters, including Stonewall Democrats of Southern Nevada, National Stonewall Democrats is the national organization of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) and allied Democrats. Stonewall Democrats works to elect pro-equality Democrats to public office and improve the Democratic Party on issues important to pro-equality Americans.

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