Re-Elect Al D'Amato

by Michael Aronowitz, President, Log Cabin Republicans New York

October 15, 1998 Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Blogger Tumblr

(New York, NY) – Many people remember the debate when President Bill Clinton put forth the notion that gays should be allowed to serve in the military -- and we all know how that ended up. But do we remember that while Democrat Sam Nunn led the fight against such a policy, Republican Alfonse D'Amato stood before the full Senate in January 1993 -- one of the first of either party -- and declared his belief that gays could and should be allowed to serve our country?

D'Amato was not running for re-election in 1993. He was simply standing up for his belief that gays and lesbians deserve to be treated equally and fairly. D'Amato, over many years, has continued to show his commitment to equality for the gay and lesbian community.

Let's look at a partial list of his solid record: He consistently practices non-discrimination policies within his federal office. He was an original co-sponsor of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. He led the battle to increase funding for the Ryan White Care Act and the AIDS Drug Assistance Program. He strongly denounced the hate-filled comments against our community by Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott and other Republican leaders. He played an instrumental role in securing a Senate vote on openly gay candidate Fred Hochberg's nomination to head the Small Business Administration. He called upon the Senate leadership to allow a vote on Jim Hormel's nomination for Ambassador of Luxembourg.

I don't believe that much more can be said about his commitment to our community. Indeed, he has received high ratings from the Human Rights Campaign. Based on their criteria, D'Amato has earned and should receive their endorsement. Although the national gay organization is under extraordinary pressure from liberal, leftist interests, we hope they will stay the course and offer the deserved endorsement of Senator D'Amato's proven friendship over the many years.

But if the gay amd lesbian community cannot recognize D'Amato's long-standing record on behalf of the gay and lesbian community, it will be a travesty. We will continue to send a message that no matter what Republicans do for our community, the activist community will never acknowledge or endorse them. This is a recipe for a failed civil rights movement and is currently evidenced by the lack of real legislative progress that gays and lesbians have achieved in the fight for equal rights to date. If the gay and lesbian community continues to ignore the accomplishments of Republicans on behalf of our community, we will never achieve civil rights. The time has come to ask a number of fundamental questions regarding the direction of our movement. Have we served ourselves well by consistently attacking and vilifying the Republican party? Have we truly earned any significant legislation from Democrats during their tenure of leadership? The answer to both questions is no.

Republican leadership on a number of matters has been extraordinarily important to our community. While we have waited for leadership from the White House, Republican leaders in the Congress increased funding for the much needed AIDS Drugs Assistance Program and Ryan White Care Act and streamlined the FDA Drug approval process. D'Amato was instrumental on both of these issues.

If we do not support Senator D'Amato, and return him to his leadership position in the Senate, the gay and lesbian community will have lost a powerful voice of support in a Congress controlled by Republicans. It is important that we continue to re-elect Republicans who have the courage to stand up against their own Republican leadership. D'Amato has consistently fought for equal and fair treatment of gays and lesbians and communicated that it is not inconsistent with Republican ideals to support individual liberties for all people.

Is the Republican party the harbinger of good will toward the gay community? Not at this time, yet D'Amato has been and will continue to be a significant voice in the Senate Republican leadership. He will continue to call upon his fellow senators to respect the principle of individual liberty that the Republican Party was founded upon. Let's show our gratitude and recognition of D'Amato's consistent, and long held support, by thanking him with our vote in November.