New York City
Council holds hearing
on second DADT repeal resolution
Center: Council Members
Seabrook and Monserratte
|On Friday Jan. 25th, the New
York City Council's Committees on Veterans and Civil Rights
held a joint hearing on a proposed resolution asking the
President and Congress to repeal the Don't Ask Don't Tell
policy. The measure was introduced by Speaker Chris
Quinn, with Larry Seabrook -Chair of the Committee on Civil
Rights, Hiram Monserratte - Chair of the Committee on
Veterans, and Council Members Avella, Brewer, Foster, Gerson,
Gonzalez, Jackson, James, Koppell, Liu, Mealy, Mendez, Nelson,
Palma, and Weprin.
The Council's first
resolution on DADT, in 2005 at the request of American
Veterans For Equal Rights New York, was the first in the
nation and led to similar resolutions in San Francisco, Los
Angeles, Chicago, St. Louis, Atlanta, Portland, and Tucson,
among other cities, and the State of California.
L-R Denny Meyer, Brian Fricke,
Espanoza, Rhonda Davis, Nathaniel Frank
|Testifying at the hearing,
in favor of the resolution, were Rhonda
Davis, Brian Fricke, Cholene Espanoza, and Heather Sarver, all
representing SLDN; Nathanial Frank representing the Michael
Palm Center, Colin Casey speaking for State Senator Tom Duane,
Denny Meyer representing AVER-NY, Matt Faiella representing
the NYCLU, and Hayley
Gorenberg, of Lambda Legal
,among others. NY Congressional Representatives Ackerman
and Maloney sent statements for the record. Although opponents
of allowing gays in the military were invited, none were
represented at the hearing.
The most poignant testimony
came from two plain-spoken straight Vietnam Era veterans.
Speaking from the heart in gruff Archie Bunker-like terms,
without notes, each said that he had come to change his mind
about gays in the military from his previous attitude.
They said that considering that today's military is all
volunteer, no one is forced to serve alongside gay
servicemembers. Times have changed, they said, and
they now believe that any patriotic American should have the
right to choose to volunteer to serve our nation regardless of
sexual orientation. The courage of these two
heterosexual men in their fifties to speak out in favor of our
rights drew applause and handshakes from the mostly LGBT-activist
participants present at the hearing.
Chief James Donovan,
President of American Veterans For Equal Rights (AVER), noted,
"I am proud that AVER New York has spearheaded this
movement, which has caught on in several cities throughout the
country through the efforts of other AVER Chapters. Once again
it has been proven what grass-roots work can accomplish.
I am deeply grateful to all the organizations that have
supported the effort to repeal the DADT law. "
Council Civil Rights
Committee Chair Larry Seabrook spoke eloquently about how the
racial discrimination he had experienced and witnessed has
resulted in his realizing that the disenfranchisement of LGBT
Americans, especially those who have volunteered to serve in
the military, is intolerable.
The resolution is
expected to pass, after a second hearing, later this year.
2008 Gay Military Signal