There was a strong wind of optimism last night as a crowd of about 50 SLDN supporters — old and new — heeded the call to honor some of our fiercest advocates in the fight to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” These friends came because they know that now, at this political juncture, their resolute support is needed.
Representative Shelley Berkeley (D-NV), who has been an original co-sponsor of repeal legislation since its inception, was joined by freshman Representatives Eric Massa (D-NY), Chellie Pingree (D-ME), and Jared Polis (D-CO) at the Army and Navy Club here in D.C. Reps. Berkeley, Massa, Pingree, and Polis shared their thoughts on the fight for equality just hours after President Obama signed hate crimes legislation.
Polis, the first openly gay man elected to the House of Representatives, spoke of his dialogue with Chairman Ike Skelton of the House Armed Services Committee, during which he secured a commitment from the Chairman to hold DADT hearings before the end of the 111th Congress. Massa, a retired Navy officer who spoke often on the 2008 campaign trail about DADT repeal, exuberantly talked about needing the best and the brightest in the armed forces, especially in times of war. Pingree, who serves on the Armed Services Committee with Polis and Massa, took the opportunity to express her commitment to DADT repeal.
The tide has shifted. The congressional champions SLDN honored last night, and the dedicated donors who joined us, are just a few examples of how far we have come. Our service members have waited years for justice, but with friends like these, finally, they can see a little light at the end of the tunnel.