Congress Could Vote On Repeal Of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell By March 2010

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=58B0GLDUz3E[/youtube]

Rep. Tammy Baldwin

(SAN FRANCISCO)  Speaking to a packed room at the 2009 Gay & Lesbian Leadership Conference, Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D) Wisconsin, said she is confident the House of Representatives will successfully present a bill aimed at ending “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell”.

Pennsylvania Congressman Patrick Murphy (D) currently has 184 co-sponsors  of his bill aimed at repealing Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.  Fifteen more members of Congress have voiced their commitment to vote in favor of his bill to repeal the law that was enacted in 1993.

218 votes are needed for the bill to leave the House of Representatives and go on for consideration in the Senate.   That means the repeal in the House only needs 19 more votes to pass.

Congresswoman Baldwin said she expects Don’t Ask Don’t Tell and a couple of other key LGBT agenda items to successfully pass the House of Representatives by February of 2010.

“We can see a January markup and February House consideration of ENDA and I think when we do the Defense Authorization Bill, which we have to do every year, it’s a must pass bill for the Congress… you know inclusion of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell… all of that you know really within the first three months of 2010.”

Rep. Baldwin acknowledged the frustration within the LGBT community about the pace of the Congress and the Obama Administration in dealing with issues like Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, Employment Non Discrimination and the Defense of Marriage Act.  But she encouraged the LGBT community to stay engaged in the political fight.

“As representatives, as many of us are, we meet the people who bear this burden every day.   You think of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, you cant’ meet a Dan Choi or Lt Col Fehrenbach and say ‘Oh I hope sometime next year we’ll get around to doing this’.   You want it done immediately and I think that tension is very healthy and it should be placed at our feet as members of Congress but also at the President’s feet.”

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Does The US Have The Moral Authority To Lead On Gay Equal Rights?

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nr-nd6dN_EI[/youtube]

(SAN FRANCISCO) The question was posed to a panel gathered at the 2009 Gay and Lesbian Leadership Institute Conference in San Francisco.

Panelists Discuss International LGBT Human Rights

Panelists Discuss International LGBT Human Rights

It’s a question that met with a low rumbling round of laughter from the audience of more than a hundred local, state and national elected or appointed officials from across the country.

The first member of the panel who attempts to answer the question is part of the international delegation in attendance at the conference.

In broken English, the Mayor of Berlin, Germany, Klaus Wowereit responds with another question, “Do I answer truthfully or diplomatically?”

Another round of laughter rumbles through the room.

The unfortunate part of the continuing conversation outlines three problems the United States is actually creating internationally.

First, in many instances, conservative US religious groups are fostering deadly homophobia. The glaring example is a bill making it’s way through the Ugandan Legislature. If passed, people found guilty of engaging in homosexual acts could be put to death. The authors of the bill in Uganda, as well as the President of the African country have close ties to US religious leaders like Pastor Rick Warren.

Second, US voters tend to be pre-occupied with national issues, and that parallel can be drawn with Gay and Lesbian voters. With issues like Gay Marriage and “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” Gays and Lesbians are often blinded to Gay Civil Rights in other countries.

And Finally, America’s reputation abroad is still recovering from the Bush eight year Presidency, as well as it’s role in a sluggish world wide economic disaster. Those two situations have put the Obama Administration in a delicate balancing act in global affairs, including Gay Human Rights issues.

Cary Alan Johnson, the Executive Director of the International Gay & Lesbian Human Right’s Campaign suggests to the room full of local and state elected officials to use the levers of their local offices.

“Who in the room here is from Atlanta?” Johnson asks the audience, “Atlanta is a sister city of Kingston, Jamaica. During those sister city meetings and economic summits, bring up their treatment of Gays in their country. Make it clear that your city doesn’t approve of their action, or in-action when it comes to attacks on gays.”

Many European countries are making huge strides in advocating for Gay Equal Rights. Some governments are leaps and bounds ahead of US policies. But panelist Philippa Drew, a retired member of the United Kingdom Civil Service points out the leadership role the American Gay and Lesbian community has, simply because of history.

Drew points to the Stonewall Riots, and the well mobilized reaction to the AIDS epidemic.

“Of course there is still a lot of work to go,” Drew says passionately, “But we have watched you from outside and we have taken courage from that, what I would say now is please come out of your national closet…please come out of your national closet. Please, we need you to come and join the promotion and protection of LGBT rights worldwide.”

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