As a Pennsylvanian residing in the 2nd district, I am represented by three democratic congressmen: Rep. Chaka Fattah, Sen. Arlen Spector and Sen. Robert P. Casey. Although each often votes with the party, some are more liberal than others. In lobbying against such a debatable issue, one must look past the facade often created by politicians and find the real person underneath.
Rep. Chaka Fattah has served in various parts of the government for 28 years. After attending both the University of Pennsylvania and Harvard University’s Kenneday School of Government, Fattah was elected to the Pennsylvania House of Representatives and then to the State Senate. He has spent the last 16 years serving Pennsylvania’s 2nd district in the House of Representatives.
He is in full support of repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” stating last year that “Our nation’s core principles, as well as an overwhelming majority of the American people, support full and equal rights for all our citizens...For far too long the law, and administrative practice, have discriminated against LGBT Americans, and it is way past the time to end this discrimination.” He helped pass the House bill that would’ve allowed DADT to be repealed, had it not been filibustered in the Senate.
Last week, Judge Virginia Phillips of the District Court of California, after ruling that DADT was unconstitutional, ordered an injunction against the military’s policy. Although the Obama administration is seeking a repeal, Rep. Fattah strongly supports it: “The ruling stands on sound Constitutional grounds, citing free speech and due process violations by the government in barring openly gay and lesbian members from the armed services. She also cites the need to end ‘Don’t Ask Don’t Tell’ as a critical step toward improving military morale, readiness and recruiting at a time when our men and women in uniform are fighting distant battles.” Rep. Chaka Fattah, while up for reelection next month, will most certainly continue to be an ally in the fight against DADT.
Sen. Arlen Spector is less reliable as a liberal voter. A Republican for the vast majority of his political career, Sen. Spector changed parties last year in hopes of reelection. However, his voting record does not suggest a Democratic ideology. In 1996, he voted to prohibit same-sex marriage and in 2002 to exclude sexual orientation in the definition of a hate crime. Despite renouncing his previous position on many civil rights issues, Pennsylvanians did not buy his claim and he lost the primary to Joe Sestak, a legislator strongly in favor of gay rights.
It seems that the truth behind Sen. Spector’s political beliefs will be revealed during the Senate’s lame duck session, when ousted congressmen are no longer accountable to their constituents. He currently serves on the Committees of Appropriations and of the Judiciary, focusing on civil rights. He has voted for some gay rights in the past, but for the former Air Force officer and Warren Commission member, a repeal of DADT is not a sure deal.
Sen. Robert P. Casey Jr. has served in the Senate since 2007. His primary goal is the welfare of the American people, focusing on issues such as the economy, the environment and healthcare. He is in strong support of a repeal, stating "As we continue to fight two wars, our national security depends on a strong and talented military. And ending this discriminatory practice is the right thing to do for our military and for those who want to openly serve their country.” Although he does differ in his opinions on same-sex marriage, he is steadfast in his belief on “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” After the November elections, Sen. Casey will become Pennsylvania’s senior senator.
There are currently are multitude of organizations supporting gay rights in this country. However, one of particular interest is the Log Cabin Republicans, which initiated the current injunction against DADT by filing a lawsuit against the U.S. military. The organization fights to ensure that the voice of the gay and lesbian community is heard in a party where is it typically ignored and that equality drives its action. LCR has worked from the inside to prevent the passage of the Federal Marriage Amendment and other anti-gay legislation. Despite the conservatism of their party, this group is fighting for the equality that all people deserve.