MEDIA RELEASE - For Immediate Release - July 25, 1996
For more information contact: Mickey Wheatley, Joel Lawson or Martin Childers at 301-921-6933
"End Your Silence" Activists Exhort Leaders
In a full-page ad in Friday's edition (7/26/96) of The Washington Blade, a gay newspaper, the activists are calling on closeted gays and lesbians in Congress to "end your silence and defend your community in this time of unprecedented hostility."
DOMA, passed by the House last week and expected to pass the Senate as early as this week, proactively denies same-sex couples the basic rights currently provided as privileges to heterosexual couples who choose to marry.
"This is apartheid legislation," said Joel Lawson, a Washington, D.C. activist who helped organize the ad effort. "DOMA codifies discrimination. It is `special rights' for heterosexuals, and every Member of Congress has an obligation to oppose it, especially gay or lesbian members. We can no longer afford their silence."
"Gay and Lesbian Members of the House still have the opportunity to come out and shatter the myths that gave birth to DOMA," said Lawson. "Gay and lesbian Members of the Senate must speak out as that body prepares to vote on this anti-gay legislation." Mickey Wheatley, a civil rights attorney and gay activist, added, "Lesbian and gay members of Congress have a special and historical responsibility to speak out from their own life stories against the outrageous attacks on gay and lesbian people that the DOMA legislation and congressional debate represent."
"The silence of the members of the Congressional Closet has been deafening," said Martin Childers, another Washington, D.C. activist. "They must come out. They must speak out. Our freedom and their integrity are at stake."
Note: Text of the ad follows.
to all Closeted Gay and Lesbian Members of Congress
Gay and lesbian members of the House of Representatives who voted for the anti-gay "Defense of Marriage Act" (DOMA): atone for your vote against your community. Stand forward, apologize for supporting the DOMA, and shatter the myths that afforded its passage.
Gay and lesbian members of the Senate: speak out before your chamber votes on the DOMA. Tell our stories, your stories, to America from the highest point of debate in the nation -- the floor of the United States Senate.
Gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered Americans can no longer afford your silence. Create a moment in history. Speak for us. Protect us. Together, we can render powerless the anti-gay slurs that now pass for legitimate political discourse. Take this step, and the community will work with you to defeat ignorance and bigotry.
Come out. Speak out. Our freedom and your integrity are at stake.