LGBT groups interrupted a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing Thursday to urge Senator John McCain to end his threat to filibuster legislation that would repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”
Members of GetEQUAL – a direct action lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization – and H.E.R.O. – an Arizona-based grassroots group of community organizers – stood in the middle of the hearing room of the Dirksen Senate Office Building while holding images of those who opposed civil rights progress in the past, such as George Wallace and Bull Conor.
They also held signs saying, “Senator McCain repeal Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, do you want to be the next George Wallace?” and “Senator McCain repeal Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, its not too late to change your legacy.”
According to the group’s Facebook page, they were able to interrupt the hearing for over 45 minutes. “Still standing! 45 minutes for Equality – Sen. McCain has not lifted his head ONCE since action began. But he can’t pretend to be reading forever!”
“We have spoken loud and clear to Senator McCain and his staff that we are not going away until the Senator stops playing politics with the lives of our men and women in uniform,” said Jimmy Gruender, the co-chair of H.E.R.O. “We will go anywhere, at any time of day to deliver the message to our Senator that he is standing on the wrong side of history.”
“I understand the opposition to [don’t ask, don’t tell],” McCain said in October of 2006. “The day that the leadership of the military comes to me and says, ‘Senator, we ought to change the policy,’ then I think we ought to consider seriously changing it.”
But the Senator appears to have changed his tune.
In February, after Defense Secretary Robert Gates voiced his support for President Obama’s effort to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” McCain responded that “at this moment of immense hardship for our armed services, we should not be seeking to overturn the ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ policy.”
In May, McCain again voiced his opposition to repealing the policy and hinted at filibustering the process, saying “I’m going to do everything I can to support the men and women of the military and to fight what is clearly a political agenda.”
“Senator McCain is more interested in placating the McCain-Palin wing of the Republican party than he is in supporting our men and women in uniform,” said Robin McGehee, the co-founder and director of GetEQUAL. “When 80 percent of the American people, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, military leaders, and active-duty service members all agree that it is past time we stop the firing of critical military personnel, you can be assured that you’re standing on the wrong side of history.”
Below is video of Senator McCain objecting to the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. (From August 5, 2010.)