Sunday, December 05, 2010

Sen. Byrd Wanted to Repeal DADT. Sen. Manchin Should Do the Same.

As Congressional leaders debate repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell", I keep thinking how our late Senator Robert C. Byrd's position had evolved on the issue to the point that he was actively working to pass the repeal in the final days of his life.

I called Sen. Joe Manchin's office Friday to ask him to follow Sen. Byrd's leadership on the issue and support repealing the outdated policy. During my call, I reminded Sen. Manchin's staff of Sen. Byrd's position and faxed them a copy of a letter that Sen. Byrd sent me on June 22, 2010 - just 6 days before his death - expressing his support for repeal. I received the letter after Sen. Byrd died, which was exceptionally powerful.

Here is what I wrote in my fax to Sen. Manchin along with a faxed copy of the letter from Sen. Byrd:
Senator Manchin, 
I hope that you will honor Sen. Byrd’s legacy by voting to repeal Don’t Ask Don’t Tell (DADT) and allow all members of the military to serve openly. This is especially important to me because I received the attached letter from Sen. Byrd expressing his support for repealing DADT after he passed away. 
I was on vacation when Senator Byrd died and upon my return home this letter from him was waiting in my mailbox. It was very powerful to read – knowing it would be the last letter I would receive from him. 
Since you are serving the unfinished term of Sen. Byrd and given that the Pentagon report released earlier this week affirmed that the policy could be repealed in a manner that Sen. Byrd supported, I hope you will also support the repeal of DADT. 
Thank you very much, 
Jim McKay, Lavalette, WV
I posted a Twitter update about my call and the letter, and @davidbadash asked if he could publish a copy of the letter on TheNewCivilRightsMovement.com.  I scanned in a copy and David published a nice article this morning praising Sen. Byrd for his leadership.  

I appreciate David helping spread the word. Hopefully, Sen. Byrd will continue to inspire others to do the right thing even after his death last summer.  I especially hope that Sen. Manchin will defer to Sen. Byrd's position since he is serving Sen. Byrd's unexpired term.
Byrd DADT Letter

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