Do Not Let Up on the Hefley Amendment!
We won round one! But the battle is not over -- it will resume as early as next week.
Rep. Hefley (R-CO) has announced he will NOT offer his amendment to the Treasury, Postal appropriations bill. He was clearly scared off from a confrontation with Rep. Jim Kolbe and those who would stand by him against this amendment.
However, Hefley is only taking a pause. He will be back with his amendment, perhaps as early as next week, when the Commerce, Justice, State, Judiciary appropriations bill comes up. And this time, we understand he is REWRITING THE AMENDMENT, possibly extending the jurisdiction of the ban on implementing ANY non-discrimination policy to include sexual orientation in ANY office throughout the federal government. All branches, all agencies. This may not hold once the amendment is unveiled in its final form, but if this is true, this is a much larger battle than previously believed. This would go directly to the heart of every non-discrimination policy in each Congressional office.
So the message is -- KEEP THE CALLS COMING TO CAPITOL HILL! We already scared him off once -- we must REDOUBLE OUR EFFORTS:
1. Call your Representative TODAY! 202-225-3121 -- TELL THEM YOU OPPOSE THE HEFLEY AMENDMENT TO THE COMMERCE, JUSTICE APPROPRIATIONS BILL!
KEY EXCERPTS OF Log Cabin Republicans LETTER TO HOUSE REPUBLICANS:
Dear Republican Members of the House:
I will not mince words -- this amendment is not only morally wrong and politically dangerous, it flatly contradicts the stated values of the Republican Party and is designed merely to attack gay and lesbian Americans. I urge you not only to vote against the amendment, but to speak in clear opposition to the amendment among your colleagues and on the floor of the House of Representatives. I cannot forsee a more crucial vote to my organization and our membership in this Congress than this one; further, we view it as a critical moment for the Republican Majority.
You are well aware that Log Cabin Republicans has always been a staunch opponent of preferences and quotas and a defender of our shared Republican principles. Over 70 Republican Members of the 105th Congress have certified in writing that "sexual orientation is not a consideration in the hiring, firing and promoting practices" in their own Congressional offices. That is the core of the employment non-discrimination Executive Order signed by President Clinton that the Hefley Amendment seeks to overturn, which added a provision to an Executive Order first enacted by President Richard Nixon in 1972 and codified what is already in practice in every federal agency today. You will recall that in 1996, the Dole-Kemp campaign publicly pledged that a Dole-Kemp Administration would leave in place all non-discrimination policies in the executive branch which included gay and lesbian federal workers. As a Party, we Republicans have prided ourselves in defending the principle that merit should be the sole criterion by which every American is judged in the workplace -- no discrimination, no preferential treatment. The Hefley Amendment would violate all of these principles in the most sweeping manner ever attempted in the history of United States Congress, and for reasons that are morally and politically wrong.
The purpose of this amendment is blatantly clear. It is designed to pander to a narrow faction inside the Republican Party that cares nothing about our Majority and will stoop to any depth -- including the destruction of our Party -- to impose their extreme anti-gay views upon the GOP leadership. The so-called arguments in favor of the Hefley Amendment are a transparent veil that cannot cover the truth -- this intolerant faction is demanding that we make exceptions to the merit principle, that gay and lesbian Americans must never be treated equally no matter how meritorious they may be as individuals. The American people are not fooled. They can see what is going on here.
The flurry of recent anti-gay comments by senior members of the Congressional leadership have provoked alarm and serious concern among Republicans all across the country for a good reason -- these comments and actions are simply wrong -- morally, intellectually and politically wrong. Log Cabin Republicans has been labeled "perverts" and has been compared to pedophiles and the Ku Klux Klan by the leadership of the Texas Republican Party. Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott has said that gay Americans suffer from a disorder akin to kleptomania and drug addiction. A small handful of Members in the Senate have grossly and unfairly attacked the character and reputation of the pending nominee for Ambassador to Luxembourg, Mr. James Hormel, solely because he is gay. Every poll which analyzes the problems facing the Republican Party at the ballot box show a consistent trend -- swing voters fear that our Party is controlled by the far right.
The time has come for moral leadership, if not from those elected to lead the Conference, then by the rank and file Members themselves. Words and rhetoric about tolerance is not enough. Indeed, there comes a time in every political leader's life when he or she can no longer pander to the lowest common denominator and must do what is right. This is such a time for the House of Representatives.
RICHARD L. TAFEL
We will keep you updated as we get more information --- KEEP THE PRESSURE ON!