Brown Honored for Backing ’Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ Repeal

by Michael K. Lavers

National News Editor

Wednesday September 21, 2011

Log Cabin Republicans honored U.S. Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) and U.S. Reps. Nan Hayworth (R-N.Y.) and Richard Hanna (R-N.Y.) in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday, Sept. 20.

Maine Sen. Susan Collins described the Pentagon's ban on openly gay and lesbian servicemembers as a "stinky law that became more odious with every application" as she delivered the keynote at Log Cabin's national dinner on the same day that the repeal of DADT became official. She also held up a postcard she received from an anonymous gay soldier in Afghanistan as she spoke to Log Cabin members and supporters-Collins cited the same soldier at a Capitol Hill press conference earlier on Tuesday.

"September 20, 2011, will long be remembered as the day those values moved our nation forward," said Collins, referring to limited government, a strong national defense and individual liberty.

Collins and Brown are among the eight Republican senators who voted for the DADT repeal bill late last year. President Barack Obama, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Chair of the Joint Chief of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen officially certified the repeal of the Clinton-era law in July.

"When I ran for this seat, and after I won, I pledged to keep an open mind on every issue-including the military's `don't ask, don't tell' policy," said Brown.

Hours before the dinner, Massachusetts Democrats held a conference call to highlight what they described as Brown's anti-LGBT record on Beacon Hill. They specifically cited Brown's 2006 vote in support of then-Gov. Mitt Romney's veto of a bill that would have created a gay and lesbian youth commission and his vote against $750,000 in funding for the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination in 1999. Democrats also criticized Brown for repeatedly voting for a proposed constitutional amendment that would have defined marriage as between a man and a woman in the Bay State.

Brown released a copy of the speech he delivered at the Log Cabin dinner after Bay State Democrats held their conference call. Christian Berle, deputy executive director of Log Cabin Republicans, applauded Brown for how he said the senator and his staff responded to the repeal of DADT.

"It's fantastic that a senator is asking questions, is thorough and wants to know what will happen with a thorough policy change," he said.

Berle acknowledged Brown's anti-LGBT voting record in the Massachusetts Legislature, but he stressed that he has worked well with gay Republicans on Capitol Hill. "In the state Senate his record was not friendly towards the LGBT community-I think the senator would acknowledge that," he said. "As a U.S. senator, I can tell you his door has always been open to Log Cabin."

Massachusetts Democrats and LGBT activists also criticized Brown for not appearing in the "It Gets Better" video in which Congressman Barney Frank and the rest of the Bay State's congressional delegation appeared in late July. Berle said it is unfair to label Brown as anti-gay.

"I do know a lot of groups burned a lot of bridges during the Senate race," he said, referring to the campaign between Brown and Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley to succeed the late-U.S. Sen. Ted Kennedy in special election held in Jan. 2010. "They called him a lot of nasty things because they didn't think he would win."

A new Public Policy Polling survey indicates that consumer advocate Elizabeth Warren leads Brown by a 46-44 percent margin. Warren announced her Senate candidacy on Sept. 14.

Based in Washington, D.C., Michael K. Lavers has appeared in the New York Times, BBC, WNYC, Huffington Post, Village Voice, Advocate and other mainstream and LGBT media outlets. He is an unapologetic political junkie who thoroughly enjoys living inside the Beltway.

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