Monday, November 15, 2010

Brody's Notes... LGBT Veterans Hold Vigil Then Travel To Capitol Hill: Senate Staffer Tells Them No Contact From White House On DADT Repeal

USN veteran Autumn Sandeen lays a wreath at the gravesite of Leonard Matlovich. Standing left to right, Ian Finkenbinder, Miriam Ben-Shalom, Evelyn Thomas, Robert Smith, James Pietrangelo, Dan Choi and Mara Boyd.  Photo via Americablog
By Mark Singer (Washington DC) NOV 15 | A sparsely attended vigil was held at 8AM this morning in Washington D. C.'s Congressional Cemetery at the gravesite of Leonard Matlovich, the former USAF Sergeant who was discharged in 1975 for being disclosing that he was Gay. Matlovich is considered an icon in the LGBT Equality Rights movement for his advocacy on behalf Lesbian and Gay servicemembers and his prominent  pioneering activist role nearly three decades ago.
The vigil is the first in a series of events scheduled for this week by activist groups including GetEqual to lobby the Senate for passage of the Defense Authorization Bill which includes the DADT repeal amendment.
Led by former U. S. Army Lieutenant Dan Choi, the eight LGBT veterans paid homage to Matlovich in a simple wreath laying ceremony before traveling to Capitol Hill to the Senate offices of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin (D-MI).
The group was met at the entrance to Majority Leader Reid's office in the Hart Senate Office Building by U. S. Capitol Police officers equipped with zip tie handcuffs in apparent readiness for any acts of civil disobedience by the veterans.
In a brief conversation with the Senator's Deputy Chief of Staff, Lt. Choi, acting as group spokesman, asked when the Defense Authorization bill, to which the DADT repeal amendment is attached, was due to go up for the Senate's vote and was told that there was no specific timing for scheduling the bill at this point. The staffer, in response to Choi's question as to whether or not Reid was committed to bring the measure to the Senate during the current "lame duck" session, replied that he didn't know and then added that the White House has not been in contact with Senator Reid to discuss the legislative efforts.
In the offices of Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin, staffer Josh Campbell told Choi that their office also had not been contacted by the administration regarding the bill and the DADT repeal.