December 22, 2010
photo courtesy of Joe Mirabella
By Adam Bink
Some random thoughts and interesting tidbits:
- As I wrote in this morning’s thread, Courage chair and founder Rick Jacobs flew in this morning, arriving at 5 AM, and planning on getting back on a plane at 12:30. Talk about “I wouldn’t miss it for the world”. After successfully recalling which of the eateries I like here in town were actually open at 6 AM, we had a fun breakfast and then headed down to the Department of the Interior, where the ceremony was being held. We saw old, current, and new friends alike from all walks of life in the LGBT movement. It was like a family reunion. As I wrote this afternoon, even folks who I know don’t like each other were being cordial, back-slapping and wishing congrats on each other. It was so much fun I jokingly asked more than one friend on the way out when the next time we should do this will be. There really is nothing like watching pen being put to paper, knowing the law would be changed, and knowing you had a hand in it. You should all be proud.
Here’s a quick shot of Rick and I in front of where the President would speak:
- Probably my favorite moment afterwards was seeing Rep. Patrick Murphy and him exchanging hugs with both Rick and I. He told us “guys, we couldn’t have done it without you and Courage.” I believe that’s true on both ends, Patrick. What a champion. Also, give yourselves another pat on the back. The system worked, and we made it work.
- Rick and I both had the opportunity to speak to several members of Congress afterwards about this ‘n that. I was happy to note that a lot of members are interested in helping work to end another form of discrimination. I’ve been spending a fair amount of time working to repeal the ban on blood donations from gay men (technically, men who have sex with men, or MSM). As you may be aware, sexually active gay men are banned from donating blood by an outdated policy. Over the summer, an HHS advisory committee set into motion a search for a more optimal policy that both increases blood safety (by screening for risks they should be screening for now among heterosexual donors) and supply (by allowing low-risk MSM to donate). For more background, see here and here. The regulatory process has been very slow-going, but after taking aside several of our pro-equality members of Congress, I was happy to see how much enthusiasm there is for being champions on this issue. And this is less something that needs legislative action than something that could use internal champions to help it move. I’m very excited, and telling you about all this because it’s an opportunity we have to repeal ANOTHER ban- and one that may be easier to do. More on this in the new year.
- Full video, including Vice President Biden’s speech.
- Transcript of remarks by both men.
- Ah, it’s as if President Obama got the e-mail we at Courage Campiagn sent out, natch, urging members to help make sure certification is done quickly.
Our e-mail (bolding mine):
Here’s the skinny: the Senate vote was the last major legislative obstacle. Now the bill will head to President Obama’s desk for his signature. But even after the President signs this law, no one can serve openly. Certification is first required from the President, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, and Secretary of Defense
It’s part of a backroom deal cut months ago, and it’s ridiculous. We’ve seen how the Administration has dragged their feet over the past two years on “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”. We can’t let that happen again. We have to mount a fight to finish the job, and we need your help.
The President today (bolding mine):
Because of these efforts, in the coming days we will begin the process laid out by this law. Now, the old policy remains in effect until Secretary Gates, Admiral Mullen and I certify the military’s readiness to implement the repeal. And it’s especially important for service members to remember that. But I have spoken to every one of the service chiefs and they are all committed to implementing this change swiftly and efficiently. We are not going to be dragging our feet to get this done.
That’s an excellent promise to see him make. We’ll hold you to that, Mr. President.
- My favorite line in the entire speech was “We are not a nation that says ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’. We are a nation that says, ‘Out of many, we are one.’”
- A list of legislators, military leaders and other folks who were present today. Was your member on the list? Also, as ever, Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee was the best dressed member of Congress in the room.
- Dear conservative reporters, don’t try to “gotcha” Barney Frank. If you do, then to quote Meryl Streep in Doubt, “you will lose.”
- Joe Manchin is sorry for missing the vote on DADT repeal and the DREAM Act to go to a Christmas party. Whatever, Joe.
- Good for Sen. Reid. Dan Choi got his ring back today. For those who don’t know the story, it’s here. I was in the room in Vegas when this happened and it really was something.
That’s all I’ve got. If you’ve got more fun stuff to add, hit it up in the comments.
A good day, a fine day. One more step towards equality in America.