Thank you,  Charlotte Rainbow Action Network for Equality, for hitting some of our NC delegation. The fact that these particular ones need to be lobbied is sad. Hagan recently did announce support for full repeal. None, however, are co-sponsors of the Military Readiness Enhancement Act.

On Wednesday these constituents and grassroots activists are taking their message to end the anti-gay “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT) to Capitol Hill, and plan on meeting with Sens. Richard Burr (R) and Kay Hagan (D) and Reps. Larry Kissell (D-08) and Mike McIntyre (D-07).

In March, the Charlotte Rainbow Action Network for Equality (CRANE) began their “March on Myrick” campaign to collect 13,500 plastic toy soldiers, each representing one person discharged under DADT, and attempted to deliver the soldiers to Rep. Sue Myrick (R-09) on April 1, 2010. At Myrick’s Charlotte office, constituents were initially turned away and later allowed to deliver only half of their constituent message. At the time, building security said the constituents were “soliciting” and threatened arrest although no laws were being broken. Constituents plan to deliver the remaining soldiers at a later date. (See rainbowaction.org/myrick for more.)

…”In working to raise awareness on the much-needed repeal of DADT, we have spoken to and worked with hundreds of constituents,” said Matt Comer, CRANE spokesperson. “Those who helped us collect these 67,500 soldiers represent a sizeable constituency who believe – like 75 percent of all Americans and 73 percent of U.S. servicemembers – that all people should be able to serve their country no matter their sexual orientation or gender identity. Sens. Burr and Hagan and Reps. Kissell and McIntyre – each serving in their respective chambers’ Armed Services committees – should immediately sign on as co-sponsors to a DADT repeal.”

The constituents will gather at the East Lawn of the Capitol (Independence Blvd. SE and First St. SE) on Wednesday, April 28, 2010, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. There, they will display one set of 13,500 plastic soldiers from the 67,500 they’ve collected over the past two months and reach out to Capitol visitors and passers-by to engage them on the issues and raise awareness. Due to package restrictions at Capitol Hill office buildings, they will deliver only a portion of each set of soldiers collected for each elected official.

“Although we’ll only be delivering a portion of the 13,500 soldiers to each of our elected officials, they should know that their constituents want this law repealed and they want it repealed now,” said Comer. “Their constituents also expect their message to be delivered in full, unfortunately something we can’t do today. As with our March on Myrick campaign, we’ll deliver the remaining message at a later date.”

The U.S. military has discharged more than 13,500 gay and lesbian service members since DADT’s implementation in 1994, including more than 800 mission-critical troops. In the past five years, the military has discharged at least 59 Arabic and Farsi linguists. Further, our government has wasted between $250 million and $1.2 billion enforcing the law, critical funds that could have been used to support rather than undermine our military readiness. The facts point to only one conclusion: DADT is a threat to national security and must be repealed. Repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” is just one step our elected leaders can take in their commitment to keep our nation strong and safe. We call on Burr, Hagan, Kissell, McIntyre and Myrick to co-sponsor the Military Readiness Enhancement Act today and support the repeal of this wasteful and damaging policy.

CRANE is a coalition of constituent, activist and student organizations across North Carolina working to raise awareness with constituents. They include: Blue Devils United (duke.edu/web/bdunited/), Charlotte Rainbow Action Network for Equality/CRANE (rainbowaciton.org), Equal People Organization (equalpeople.org), HRC Carolinas (northcarolina.hrc.org), NoH8NC (noh8nc.com), N.C. State GLBT Center (ncsu.edu/student_affairs/glbt/), N.C. State GLBTCA and UNC-Chapel Hill GLBTSA (unc.edu/glbtsa/).

Contact: Matt Comer, 336-391-9528, matt.hill.comer@gmail.com

Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding

6 Comments