WASHINGTON - Three hundred volunteers for the Human Rights Campaign, the nation's largest gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender organization, went to Capitol Hill today to lobby their senators and representatives about civil rights for GLBT Americans.
The volunteer lobbyists included Eric Alva, the first Marine wounded in the Iraq war, during his first day serving as a Human Rights Campaign spokesperson. Alva, who recently came out as a gay man, is calling for an end to the discriminatory "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy that bans gay, lesbian and bisexual Americans from serving openly in the armed forces. Volunteers also spoke to their congressional delegations about the need for a federal law ending workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity and granting local law enforcement officers the tools they need to prosecute hate violence.
"Today, members of Congress are hearing from their constituents loud and clear," said Joe Solmonese, president of the Human Rights Campaign. "When 300 voices rise up and tell their representatives that equal rights are crucial for all Americans, including gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people, Congress can't help but listen."
The 300 volunteers came from across the country to the Human Rights Campaign's headquarters in Washington, D.C. Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, D-Fla., spoke to the group at their kick-off event this morning. The volunteers then went to Capitol Hill to meet with their senators and representatives. Many of the volunteers have suffered from anti-gay job discrimination, or have friends or relatives who have been the victims of anti-gay hate crimes. By sharing their personal stories with their members of Congress, the volunteers' experiences helped put a face to the issues of discrimination and hate violence.
The volunteers' visits to Capitol Hill are a part of the Human Rights Campaign's ongoing effort under the new congressional leadership to pass fair policies ensuring that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Americans are treated equally in the workplace and protected from hate violence.
The Human Rights Campaign is America's largest civil rights organization working to achieve gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender equality. By inspiring and engaging all Americans, HRC strives to end discrimination against GLBT citizens and realize a nation that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all.
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