A Gay Vote for D'Amato
Michael Aronowitz, Op-Ed Page, The New York Post
TRUE leadership in the public forum requires courage and integrity. In his
service as New York's U.S. senator, Alfonse D'Amato has exhibited both
qualities. His relentless work in delivering solid results for all New
Yorkers is well known, but his courage been more clearly on display in his
leadership within the Senate on behalf of the gay and lesbian community.
D'Amato's critics and opponent claim he is an arch-conservative until election-year politics intrude. Not so. Think back to 1993, when President Clinton put forth the notion that gays should be allowed to serve in the military.
We all know how that debate ended. But do we remember that while Democrat Sen. Sam Nunn led the fight against the proposal, Republican Sen. D'Amato stood before the full Senate 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 -- indeed, New Yorkers had just returned him to office for six more years. He was simply standing up for his belief that gays and lesbians deserve to be treated equally and fairly.
In fact, the senator has shown his commitment to equality year in and year out. A partial list of the promises he has kept and the results he has delivered:
- Sen. D'Amato consistently practices non-discrimination policies within his federal office.
- He is a leading co-sponsor of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act.
- The senator 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 and has called upon the Senate leadership to allow a vote on Jim Hormel's nomination for ambassador of Luxembourg (Hormel would be the first openly gay U.S. ambassador).
Rarely has the Human Rights Campaign backed a Republican for major office. Those who insist on labeling D'Amato an "ultraconservative'' -- are willfully and divisively ignoring this authoritative acknowledgment of his solid record.
This endorsement also clearly shows that Sen. Alfonse D'Amato is a man of his word. Once he has made a personal commitment, he does everything within his power to deliver results -- and usually succeeds.
The same can not be said about Chuck Schumer -- and, again, the point is plain on issues relating to the gay community.
Rep. Schumer contends that he has a better record here. In fact, he has mainly taken advantage of the gay and lesbian vote.
Where was Schumer when President Clinton failed to deliver on promises to New York gay and lesbian activists for increases in HIV/AIDS services and the AIDS Drug Assistance Program funding?
Where was Schumer when Clinton backed away from his promise to gay and lesbian fund-raisers to provide needle exchange programs?
Where was Schumer when the president touted his support for the Defense of Marriage Act?
Each time, Chuck Schumer was silent.
Republican leadership on a number of matters has been extraordinarily important to our community. While we have waited for leadership from the White House, GOP leaders in Congress boosted funding for the much-needed AIDS Drugs Assistance Program and Ryan White Care Act and streamlined the Food & Drug Administration's drug-approval process. Al D'Amato was instrumental in all cases.
Rep. Schumer has shown no leadership, and risked little, for gays and lesbians (as well as for the greater New York community). He has offered lip service, while Sen. Alfonse D'Amato has stood up against bigotry and hatred from within his own political party. He may well be the most significant moderate voice in the Senate Republican leadership.
If we do not support Sen. D'Amato, and return him to his leadership position in the Senate, the gay and lesbian community, as well as all New Yorkers, 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 for these ideals, even against the party's leaders. D'Amato has consistently fought for equal and fair treatment of gays and lesbians. More, he has argued and demonstrated that support for the individual liberties of all people is an essential Republican ideal -- the very principle on which the Republican Party was founded.
And if New York's voters give him the chance, he will continue to do so.
New York deserves the best public servant -- one with the courage to lead. We can count upon Alfonse D'Amato to live up to his commitments and maintain his integrity on issues important for all New Yorkers.
Michael S. Aronowitz is the chairman of Log Cabin Republicans of New York state, part of the largest gay and lesbian Republican organization in the nation.