Students at University of West Florida are Ready to Repeal DADT!
April 7, 2010
Yesterday I made the drive from Orlando to Pensacola (for those of you not familiar- that’s 7 hours on a long, straight highway…) I have to admit I was exhausted from all the recent travel, but when I arrived on campus at the University of West Florida, to speak with the Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) there, that all changed. I walked into the meeting room in the student center and was greeted by almost 75 students -- full of energy and passion. I was there to encourage them to join HRC in our efforts to repeal DADT. The meeting began with some formal campus business- candidates for student body vice president, election of new officers for the GSA, etc…but each presentation was met with cheers and applause from the audience. From the slogan emblazoned on their t-shirts: “Advocate, Educate, Support,” this was clearly a group that was there to make a difference! After the announcements and candidate speeches, they watched the weekly episode of HRC’s “Equally Speaking” to keep up to date on national LGBT news. I had worked with the president of the GSA, Stephen Loveless, for a few weeks by phone to set up a “Voices of Honor” event and community outreach activities for DADT. Before I even made my presentation, sign-up sheets for these activities were already circulated and filled. Stephen put some pressure on the group- “You only get a DADT t-shirt if you volunteer.” As I began my presentation, I asked who in the room has served in the military or comes from a military family; over half the hands in the room went up! I talked about the MREA and the importance of passing this legislation now. I knew I was preaching to the choir, because what the students really wanted to know was how they could take action. Everyone in the room committed to signing a postcard, making a call to Senator Nelson’s district office, and updating their Facebook status with a message about repealing DADT. I will be in Pensacola for the next few days to meet with community leaders and veterans in preparation for our “Voices of Honor” tour on Wednesday, April 14th at 7 pm on the UWF campus in the Student Commons. This event will be the culmination of a week of class presentations, on campus phone banking to legislators, and a flag display to draw attention to repealing the discriminatory DADT law. For more information on this event and other events across the country, AND to TAKE ACTION, visit www.hrc.org/repealDADT.