In his oped last week for Bay Windows, US Sen. Scott Brown writes that voters across the state are sharing their concerns with him about “their economic future.” He also writes that he believes “all people should be treated with dignity and respect.”
Does this mean we can expect Sen. Brown to support the “Respect for Marriage Act,” which is supported by every member of the Massachusetts Congressional delegation except for Sen. Brown? Passage of this law would accomplish two of Sen. Brown’s goals: providing economic security for Massachusetts families and treating all Massachusetts families with dignity and respect.
Currently, marriages of same-sex couples in Massachusetts are not recognized by the federal government because of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act. This inequality means that married same-sex couples do not have access to many of the safety nets afforded other married couples: social security survivor benefits; Medicaid long-term care benefits; spousal veteran benefits; or rights of inheritance.
Sen. Brown also writes that he kept an open mind throughout the 2010 Congressional debate over repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and that in the end he decided that repeal was the right way to go. We remember things somewhat differently. In the months leading up to our win in Congress, Sen. Brown consistently supported Republican Party efforts to prevent a vote on the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” despite overwhelming public and Congressional support for repeal. It wasn’t until Senators Joe Lieberman and Susan Collins devised an extraordinary parliamentary maneuver in the lame duck session to go around the GOP’s obstructionist filibuster did Sen. Brown vote for repeal.
Meanwhile, we worked closely with MassEquality and the Human Rights Campaign to lobby Sen. Brown on this issue. During the period in which Sen. Brown was supporting GOP filibuster efforts to prevent a vote on “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” we helped deliver 2,262 constituent postcards and 110 handwritten letters to Sen. Brown urging him to repeal the policy; we helped make 10,000 calls to families of veterans and other MassEquality members urging them to call Sen. Brown and ask him to support repeal; we participated in and helped organize meetings in Sen. Brown’s Washington and Boston officesfor 27 veterans opposed to “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”; we participated in a panel at Faneuil Hall during which three other veterans in addition to ourselves spoke about their support for repeal; and, in the final days of the debate, we spoke at a press conference in front of Sen. Brown’s Boston office that was followed by lobby visits to Sen. Brown from straight and gay veterans supporting repeal.
Advocacy like this is part of the democratic process. But in Massachusetts in 2012 support for LGBT equality should not be something that is up for debate.
The writer is a former First Lieutenant of the New Jersey Army National Guard who was honorably discharged in the mid 1990s after choosing not to reenlist because of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”
The writer is a former Chief Warrant Officer 2 who was discharged from the US Army in 2003 because of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”