Organizing for DADT Repeal Across the Country
March 19, 2010
Our organizers are busy around the country organizing to help repeal the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" law. Here are some updates from the field...
From Adrian Matanza in Indiana: After a busy weekend at HRC's Equality Convention, Nick and I got into Indy, checked in with our host families, and got to work. Last week we met with one of our student leaders at IU Bloomington, Rick who has been really helpful with our Employment Non-Discrimination Act work in Indiana's Ninth District by collecting over 200 handwritten letters that we delivered to the congressman. Along with the work we're doing with ENDA at IU Bloomington, we're partnering up again to put the pressure on legislators to pass the Military Readiness Enhancement Act, the bill that repeals the failed “Don't Ask, Don't Tell” law. Last night, Nick and I continued our outreach at Greg's, a local hangout here in Indianapolis. We met up with Scott, one of our veterans here in Indy that has been organizing local vets and the repeal efforts. We collected over 100 postcards from community members that want to see an end to this discriminatory law. Everyone was very helpful and wanted to learn more about how they can help here in the Hoosier state. Along with Jarrod, we also hosted a Voices of Honor Tour stop here in Indianapolis last night on the IUPUI Campus. We screened the film 'Ask Not' then talked about what HRC is doing in the state with local vets and other community leaders to repeal DADT. From Karl Bach in Nebraska: We're off to a great start here in Nebraska! I just returned from a PFLAG meeting in Hastings (The birthplace of Kool-Aid!) where folks wrote letters urging their Senators to co-sponsor the bill that would repeal DADT. I’ve been overwhelmed with how eager folks are to get politically engaged. Omaha super volunteers Joni and Cathy have been organizing letter writing events and have even collected postcards at local bars. Brenda, David and Jim volunteered to visit the bowling alley last Sunday where they collected letters and had entire bowling teams call into Senatorial offices between frames. Maybe this excitement is due to the Lincoln Journal Star’s editorial supporting repeal of this discriminatory law, or because of the area’s close ties to the military community (Offutt Air Force Base is just down the road from Omaha). Either way, it’s amazing to hear the stories of sons daughters, friends and loved ones affect by this law. If you are a veteran the most important way for you to get involved is to complete HRC’s survey and share your story. From David Contreras Turley in Florida: Bienvenidos a Miami! DADT repeal has started off with a bang in Southern Florida. I arrived in Miami late this past Saturday night to start organizing the local Hispanic community around the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. We are in Florida because we need Senator Bill Nelson, who sits on the Armed Services Committee, to vote in favor of DADT repeal so we can bring this out of committee and on to the Senate floor for a vote. As a Latino, I can’t tell you how proud I am to be working with my community on HRC’s behalf. In an area as populated as Miami-Dade County where I am currently stationed, there is a tremendous amount of organizing to do and great potential with that. I have been on the ground now for three days and there is so much work that and I have literally been working around the clock. We have been receiving amazing support and additional leads from LGBT Latino groups such as Unid@s and the Unity Coalition. There is a lot going in Southern Florida, so I will make sure to keep you updated, but thus far we have already done DADT outreach at Fort Lauderdale Pride and at the Calle Ocho Festival, one of the nation’s largest Pan-American street fairs. Our HRC volunteers and Southern Florida Steering Committee members collected almost 600 postcards from the two festivals on Sunday alone. We also identified 67 new volunteers and 11 new veterans willing to join the repeal fight. I especially enjoyed working at Calle Ocho because we ended post-carding next to an Army recruitment booth where support was surprisingly positive. The Latino focus of my DADT work is especially interesting. Southern Florida has one of the nation’s largest Hispanic communities so it is no mystery that the majority of Spanish speaking media outlets are based in the area. Organizing the Latino community around DADT with our coalition partners such as the Unity Coalition in conjunction with their great Spanish media contacts, gives HRC the unique opportunity to spread our message of equality to a whole new audience. Univision for example has the Nation’s most watched morning news program, Despierta America, reaching over 7 million viewers. That is more than twice the amount of Americans that tune in every morning for the Today Show, the Nation’s most widely watched English morning show that is viewed by 3 million Americans. My goal is to have our Spanish speaking veterans who are working with our Voices of Honor Tour do a Spanish media blitz so we can better spread HRC’s vision of equality to an even larger audience. The sky is the limit here in Miami. We are going to secure Senator Bill Nelson’s support for DADT repeal and make long lasting partners within the Latino community so we can better bring the message equality to every single American community and household in this great, diverse nation of ours.
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