HRC Blog

Sen. Byrd to Vote for DADT Repeal; WV Organizing Wrap-up

In West Virginia, we’ve been working hard with Fairness West Virginia and West Virginia Pride to activate the community around the repeal of "Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell" this year.  After seven successful Voices of Honor stops all over the state and a great Veteran’s Lobby Day in Washington, D.C., we’ve continued to make strides with Mountaineers from every corner of West Virginia.  Last evening's announcement that Sen. Robert Byrd would vote for DADT repeal was a tremendous victory. This past weekend before the critical votes to repeal DADT, and Team West Virginia has had no intention of letting up. We made final stops in Charleston and Parkersburg, gathering handwritten letters and prompting on-the-spot phone calls into Senator Byrd’s office. A venue known as the Broadway, in Charleston, welcomed us for a second time on Saturday night. Dozens of handwritten letters were generated and the staff continued to support our efforts by sending folks over to write a letter as they placed their orders. The camaraderie, passion, and electricity in the West Virginia community is absolutely astounding. But we didn’t stop there. The following morning, HRC Organizer Nick Veach made a stop at the Unitarian Universalist Church in the capital city. Here’s what he has to say about it:

In the final push to repeal “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” in the state of West Virginia I was welcomed as usual by the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Charleston, WV.  The UU of Charleston had hosted a previous “Voices of Honor” event and has remained committed to helping with repeal of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell”. Members of the congregation made phone calls to Senator Robert Byrd’s office expressing their interest in immediately repealing the discriminatory and ineffective military law.  Members of the church identified themselves as military veterans, concerned constituents and people of faith as they called Senator Byrd’s office in Washington, DC. The Human Rights Campaign looks forward to keeping our relationship with the Unitarian Universalist Congregation and other pro-equality faith-based religions and organizations.

And we didn’t stop there, either. On Monday morning, I met with Nick and West Virginia Organizer and three tour Army Veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom to deliver over 45 handwritten letters and stacks of postcards to Senator Byrd’s office in Charleston. We had an energized, positive meeting with the Senator’s staff, who were pleased and surprised to see the outpouring of support. Jared Towner, one of our WV organizers for DADT Repeal and 3 tour Veteran of Iraqi Freedom, provides this report: 

Team WV has been working hard in communities across the state.  This weekend I tabled at The Wood Star in Parkersburg WV, and The Stonewall in Huntington.  We collected dozens of handwritten letters and prompted even more phone calls to Senator Byrd’s office asking him to support repeal this year. What motivates me to keep pressing on with this work is the personal stories of sacrifice and patriotism. Not a day goes by that I don’t meet someone who has always wanted to serve his or her country but feels this is impossible because of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. Everyday I meet obviously talented, motivated and intelligent veterans who have been kicked out of the military because of this law.  As a straight ally and three tour Army Veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom,  I’ve always felt that this policy truly creates a weaker National Defense for the United States of America.  For years I let that drive my passion to see this arcane policy repealed.  However, after being out in the field doing this work with the Human Rights Campaign, I can honestly tell you that my drive, my focused has changed. Everyday I see the eyes of those that would wear the uniform, of those who would sacrifice everything for life liberty and the pursuit of happiness. I see the genuine hope of these individuals who want their country to love them as much as they love it. I have seen the worst of humanity in war, and it makes getting up in morning a little easier every day knowing that I get to see this hope and belief of a better tomorrow.  This work that we’re doing is as all American as Apple Pie and Coal Dust.  Thank you HRC, thank you to our supporters, and this year we will see the End of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.
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