Tag Archives: Baldwin

Justice Department to monitor polls in Milwaukee

The Justice Department announced that its Civil Rights Division will deploy more than 500 personnel to 67 jurisdictions, including Milwaukee, on Election Day.

Although state and local governments have primary responsibility for administering elections, Justice’s Civil Rights Division is charged with enforcing the federal voting rights laws that protect the rights of all citizens to access the ballot on Election Day.

Since the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the department has regularly monitored elections in the field in jurisdictions around the country to protect the rights of voters.

“The bedrock of our democracy is the right to vote, and the Department of Justice works tirelessly to uphold that right not only on Election Day, but every day,” said Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch in a statement.  “We enforce federal statutes related to voting through a range of activities — including filing our own litigation when the facts warrant, submitting statements of interest in private lawsuits to help explain our understanding of these laws, and providing guidance to election officials and the general public about what these laws mean and what they require.

“On Election Day itself, lawyers in the Civil Rights Division’s Voting Section will staff a hotline starting in the early hours of the morning, and just as we have sent election monitors in prior elections, we will continue to have a robust election monitors program in place on election day.  As always, our personnel will perform these duties impartially, with one goal in mind: to see to it that every eligible voter can participate in our elections to the full extent that federal law provides.  The department is deeply committed to the fair and unbiased application of our voting rights laws and we will work tirelessly to ensure that every eligible person that wants to do so is able to cast a ballot.”

Leading up to and throughout Election Day, Civil Rights Division staff members will be available by telephone to receive complaints related to possible violations of the federal voting rights laws (Toll free at 1-800-253-3931 or 202-307-2767 or TTY 202-305-0082).

In addition, individuals may also report such complaints by fax to 202-307-3961, by email to   and by a complaint form on the department’s website: www.justice.gov/crt/votercomplaint.

Allegations of election fraud are handled by the 94 U.S. Attorneys’ Offices across the country and the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section.

Complaints may be directed to any of the local U.S. Attorneys’ Offices, the local FBI offices or the Public Integrity Section at 202-514-1412.

Complaints related to disruption at a polling place should be reported immediately to local election officials (including officials in the polling place).

Complaints related to violence, threats of violence or intimidation at a polling place should be reported immediately to local police authorities by calling 911.

They should also be reported to the department after local authorities have been contacted.

On Election Day, the Civil Rights Division will monitor the election on the ground in 67 jurisdictions for compliance with the federal voting rights laws:

  • Bethel Census Area, Alaska;
  • Dillingham Census Area, Alaska;
  • Kusilvak Census Area, Alaska;
  • Yukon-Koyukuk Census Area, Alaska;
  • Maricopa County, Arizona;
  • Navajo County, Arizona;
  • Alameda County, California;
  • Napa County, California;
  • Siskiyou County, California;
  • East Hartford, Connecticut;
  • Farmington, Connecticut;
  • Hartford, Connecticut;
  • Middletown, Connecticut;
  • New Britain, Connecticut;
  • Newington, Connecticut;
  • West Hartford, Connecticut;
  • Hillsborough County, Florida;
  • Lee County, Florida;
  • Miami-Dade County, Florida;
  • Orange County, Florida;
  • Palm Beach County, Florida;
  • Fulton County, Georgia;
  • Gwinnett County, Georgia;
  • Hancock County, Georgia;
  • Chicago, Illinois;
  • Cook County, Illinois;
  • Finney County, Kansas;
  • Orleans Parish, Louisiana;
  • Quincy, Massachusetts;
  • Dearborn Heights, Michigan;
  • Detroit, Michigan;
  • Hamtramck, Michigan;
  • St. Louis, Missouri;
  • Douglas County, Nebraska;
  • Mineral County, Nevada;
  • Washoe County, Nevada;
  • Middlesex County, New Jersey;
  • Cibola County, New Mexico;
  • Kings County, New York;
  • Orange County, New York;
  • Queens County, New York;
  • Cumberland County, North Carolina;
  • Forsyth County, North Carolina;
  • Mecklenburg County, North Carolina;
  • Robeson County, North Carolina;
  • Wake County, North Carolina;
  • Benson County, North Dakota;
  • Rolette County, North Dakota;
  • Cuyahoga County, Ohio;
  • Franklin County, Ohio;
  • Hamilton County, Ohio;
  • Allegheny County, Pennsylvania;
  • Lehigh County, Pennsylvania;
  • Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania;
  • Pawtucket, Rhode Island;
  • Providence, Rhode Island;
  • Bennett County, South Dakota;
  • Jackson County, South Dakota;
  • Oglala Lakota County, South Dakota;
  • Shelby County, Tennessee;
  • Dallas County, Texas;
  • Harris County, Texas;
  • Waller County, Texas;
  • San Juan County, Utah;
  • Fairfax County, Virginia;
  • Prince William County, Virginia, and
  • Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

The department will gather information on:

• whether voters are subject to different voting qualifications or procedures on the basis of race, color or membership in a language minority group;

• whether jurisdictions are complying with the minority language provisions of the Voting Rights Act; whether jurisdictions permit voters to receive assistance by a person of his or her choice if the voter is blind, has a disability or is unable to read or write;

• whether jurisdictions provide polling locations and voting systems allowing voters with disabilities to cast a private and independent ballot;

• whether jurisdictions comply with the voter registration list requirements of the National Voter Registration Act;

• whether jurisdictions comply with the provisional ballot requirements of the Help America Vote Act.

Last month, the Justice Department announced efforts to ensure that all qualified voters have the opportunity to cast their ballots and have their votes counted free of discrimination, intimidation or fraud in the election process.

Earlier this fall, U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin and U.S. Reps. Gwen Moore, Mark Pocan and Ron Kind sent a letter to the Justice Department asking for monitoring of the election in Wisconsin.

Moore and Pocan issued statement on Nov. 7:

“I take great comfort in knowing that personnel from the U.S. Justice Department will be on the ground in Milwaukee during this historic election,” said Moore. “Too many Wisconsinites, especially those in communities of color, face a host of unnecessary obstacles in their efforts exercise their constitutional right to vote. This is simply unacceptable. My colleagues and I in Wisconsin’s Democratic congressional delegation would like to thank the DOJ for ensuring that all voters, regardless of party affiliation or political ideology, have the right to take part in our democracy, free of discrimination or intimidation.”

Pocan said, “The decision by the Department of Justice, while welcome, is a bittersweet victory for those of us who want to ensure voting rights are upheld. Although the DOJ’s efforts to enforce federal voting-rights laws is essential to fending off the worst aspects of this relentless attack on the right to vote, my colleagues and I will fight to end the suppression and intimidation that have become normalized in this election. The bedrock of democracy is the robust participation of all of us in the political process—this has always been a core Wisconsin value. We cannot and will not tolerate the continued threat of disenfranchisement against hundreds of thousands of Wisconsinites.”

Scott Walker’s disapproval rating equal to Clinton’s

Gov. Scott Walker’s approval rating continues to fall among Wisconsin voters. Only 39 percent in the latest Marquette University Law School poll approve of how Walker is handling his job, while 57 percent disapprove.

In March, Walker’s approval was 43 percent and disapproval was 53 percent.

The governor’s diminishing stature among state voters is rooted in their feelings about the direction the state is headed under his iron-clad grip over the Legislature and judiciary.

Forty-six percent of registered voters say Wisconsin is headed in the right direction while 50 percent say it is on the wrong track, according to the Marquette poll. That’s comparable to February polling, in which 44 percent of respondents said the state was moving in the right direction and 52 percent said it was not.

But 50 percent or more have said “wrong track” in each Marquette poll asking this question since January 2015.

The lagging state of Wisconsin’s economy seems largely to blame. Twenty-nine percent of respondents think the economy got worse over the past year while 25 percent say it got better and 44 percent say it has remained about the same.

Looking ahead to the next 12 months, 25 percent expect the economy to improve, 23 percent think it will worsen and 43 percent expect no change.

Presidential polling

As in national polling, the Marquette poll shows President Barack Obama’s job approval has edged upward since 2014. Fifty-one percent of voters approve of the job Obama is doing, while 43 percent disapprove — much as it looked in March.

Obama’s trajectory is clear, however. With all 2014 surveys combined, Obama had a 44 percent approval to 49 percent disapproval rating in the Marquette poll. In 2015, combined polling put approval at 49 percent with disapproval at 47 percent. In combined 2016 polls, approval is 50 percent and disapproval 45 percent.

Whether Obama’s increasing approval rating helps boost presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton in the state come November remains to be seen. Clinton is viewed unfavorably by 58 percent and favorably by 37 percent of voters who were polled.

House and senate numbers

In the race for U.S. Senate, former Sen. Russ Feingold is viewed favorably by 40 percent of registered voters and unfavorably by 33 percent. Another 26 percent say they haven’t heard enough or don’t know how they feel about him. Again, this set of numbers closely tracks the March results.

Meanwhile, Sen. Ron Johnson, who defeated Feingold during the tea party wave election of 2010, is seen favorably by 33 percent of registered voters and unfavorably by 31 percent, with 35 percent saying they have not heard enough or don’t know how they feel, almost exactly matching the March poll.

Democratic U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, who does not face re-election until 2018, is viewed favorably by 37 percent of respondents and unfavorably by 33 percent, while 31 percent say they haven’t heard enough or don’t have an opinion. When last measured in August 2015, Baldwin had a 36 percent favorable and 40 percent unfavorable rating, with 24 percent unable to give an opinion.

House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Janesville, is viewed favorably by 49 percent of registered voters and unfavorably by 32 percent. Eighteen percent do not have an opinion of him. In March, 48 percent had a favorable opinion, 31 percent unfavorable and 21 percent were unable to say. Ryan does not face a serious challenge this year.

The Marquette University Law School Poll is the most extensive statewide polling project in Wisconsin.

Politifact gets a false for tax loophole finding

This past week, Politifact Wisconsin wrongly gave Senator Tammy Baldwin a “false” rating on statements she made pertaining to closing the carried interest tax loophole. Instead of looking at the big picture, Politifact Wisconsin chose only to see the numbers they wanted. Fortunately, the group Patriotic Millionaires, a group of millionaires who want reform the tax code so the rich pay their fair share of taxes, did their own analysis and found that Senator Baldwin’s statements were correct.

Read Excerpts from the piece below.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel is certainly entitled to their own opinion that millionaires and billionaires shouldn’t be asked to pay their fair share of taxes; after all they have opposed the Buffet Rule, which would do just that. They also can offer their own editorial opinions about tax policy through “politfacts” but one thing that they are not entitled to is their own set of actual facts.

In a recent opinion from the paper’s “Politifact Wisconsin,” they claimed Senator Baldwin made a “false” statement about legislation she has introduced to close the carried interest tax loophole and require the managers of investment partnerships to pay the same tax rates on their income that most American workers pay.

As Chairperson of the Patriotic Millionaires, a group of more than 200 Americans with annual incomes over $1 million and/or assets of more than $5 million who believe that the country’s current level of economic inequality is both dangerous and immoral, we strongly support Baldwin’s legislation. We also couldn’t disagree more with the Journal Sentinel’s shallow review of both the Senator’s statement and this important reform proposal that closes a tax loophole which allows some of the highest-paid people in our country to pay less taxes as a percentage of their income than many hard-working middle-class Americans.

[…]

The substantive crux of the argument is this: all else being equal, at any income level, nurses, truck drivers, and teachers pay higher tax rates than an investment manager would at the same level of income. This is because we currently have a rigged tax code that rewards wealth rather than hard work. This point is lost on the paper in its attempt to play a game of gotcha with Baldwin.

[…]

PolitiFact Wisconsin cherry-picked which specific tax rates to include in their analysis, all while omitting the fact that the surtaxes apply to ordinary taxes as well as capital gains. However, what they have done is take the extremes and compare them as apples to cherries. They took an investment fund manager’s taxes by adding capital gains plus the surtaxes and compared it to what hard working ordinary taxpayers pay minus their FICA, Medicare, and all other deductions and credits. The true issue is that the base rate for investment fund managers is lower than that of regular workers.

Baldwin has offered a serious solution to an unfair tax loophole that only serves the millionaire and billionaire fund managers. The nonpartisan Joint Committee on Taxation recently estimated that her tax reform would raise more than $15 billion in revenue during the next 10 years.

That is $15 billion that could be invested in cities like Milwaukee. We know Baldwin understands this and it why she has taken on this special interest tax loophole. As she has said, closing this loophole can enable “an investment in workforce readiness, job training and small businesses—which can lead to greater economic growth and raise the incomes of working families struggling to get ahead.”

[…]

Morris Pearl currently serves as Chair of the Board of the Patriotic Millionaires, a group of 200 high-net-worth Americans who are committed to building a more prosperous, stable, and inclusive nation. Previously, Pearl was a managing director at BlackRock, one of the largest investment firms in the world.
Read the full article here.

Read the release on WisDems.org

 

Johnson, Baldwin recommend Wisconsinites for federal district court

Wisconsin’s U.S. senators recently announced their joint recommendation that the White House consider three Wisconsinites for the federal bench in the Eastern District of Wisconsin.

U.S. Sens. Ron Johnson, R, and Tammy Baldwin, D, recommended Beth J. Kushner, Pamela Pepper, and William S. Pocan, who were backed by a bipartisan federal nominating commission established last April.

Johnson, in a news release, said, “I appreciate all the hard work by the bipartisan judicial commission and state bar to help examine the highly qualified candidates that applied to serve the state of Wisconsin as a federal judge for the Eastern District of Wisconsin.

He added, “I especially want to thank Senator Baldwin for working with me in a cooperative, bipartisan fashion.”

Baldwin, in the announcement, said, “The filling of judicial vacancies has been a top priority for me since I was sworn in to the U.S. Senate last year. The people of Wisconsin deserve to have these vacancies filled and this is an important step forward in providing Wisconsin with highly qualified public servants who will work hard for them in our judicial system. Each of the nominees Senator Johnson and I are recommending to President Obama are experienced, highly qualified, and would make an outstanding federal district judge.”

Kushner, a partner at von Briesen & Roper, handles complex litigation and construction law, according to the senators’ release. She has close to 30 years of litigation experience where she has handled a range of business and commercial disputes, product liability claims, fraud and RICO cases, antitrust disputes and class actions.

Kushner has been listed in Best Lawyers in America since 2007, and has been listed in Wisconsin SuperLawyers since 2005 and as one of their Top 25 Women Lawyers since 2011.

She is one of two Wisconsin attorneys in Benchmark Litigation’s “Top 250 Women in Litigation,” is a Fellow of the Litigation Counsel of America, and has a rating of AV Preeminent by Martindale-Hubbell. 

Before joining von Briesen, Kushner served as assistant general counsel for Rexnord Corporation in West Milwaukee and Brookfield.
 
She’s a 1975 graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and 1979 graduate of the University of Virginia School of Law.

Pepper is the chief judge for the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in the Eastern District of Wisconsin.

Pepper is a member of the Association for Women Lawyers, the American Bar Association, State Bar of Wisconsin, Seventh Circuit Bar Association, Eastern District of Wisconsin Bar Association, Milwaukee Bar Association, NACTT Academy for Consumer Bankruptcy Education, National Conference of Bankruptcy Judges and American Bankruptcy Institute.

Previously, she served on the board of Federal Defender Services and the State Public Defender.

She is a former president of the Milwaukee Bar Association and former chair of the State Bar of Wisconsin’s Board of Governors.

She also serves as faculty member for the Advanced Consumer Bankruptcy Practice Institute.

Before taking the bench, Pepper worked in private practice as a criminal defense attorney, representing clients in federal and state court. Between 1990 and 1997, Pepper was a federal prosecutor in Chicago and Milwaukee.  From 1989 to 1990, she clerked for the Judge Frank M. Johnson Jr. on the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals.

Pepper is a 1986 graduate of Northwestern University and a 1989 graduate of Cornell Law School.  She also obtained a graduate certificate in dispute resolution from Marquette University in 2003.

Pocan is a circuit judge in Milwaukee. He currently presides over the felony division.
 
For more than 20 years, Pocan worked at Jastroch & LaBarge, S.C. in Waukesha, where he first represented corporations and other business entities in the area of commercial litigation and later represented individuals in the area of consumer law.
 
Pocan is currently a member of the Wisconsin Court System’s Planning and Policy Advisory Committee, the Wisconsin Trial Judge Association Board of Directors, the Milwaukee Bar Association, and the Thomas E. Fairchild American Inns of Court.

Pocan has also been a member of the Legislative Committee of the Judicial Conference, the Judicial Conference Nominating Committee, the Adoption & Out of Home Care Committee of the Milwaukee Child Welfare Partnership Council, the Wisconsin Legislative Council Special Committee on the Review of Spousal Maintenance Awards in Divorce Proceedings, State Bar of Wisconsin Consumer Protection Committee, State Bar of Wisconsin Public Interest Section, and the Milwaukee Bar Association Civil Bench/Bar Committee.

For many years, Pocan has been involved with organizing and presenting at Continuing Legal Education seminars put on for lawyers by such groups as the State Bar of Wisconsin, the Milwaukee Bar Association and other organizations, and has been a guest speaker at the University of Wisconsin and Marquette University law schools.
 
In 2006, Pocan was appointed to the circuit court, where he presided over juvenile and then civil cases before his latest move to the federal division.
 
Pocan is a 1977 graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Parkside and a graduate of the University of Wisconsin Law School.

Pocan received an American Jurisprudence Award in Constitutional Law while at the University of Wisconsin.

Senate approves ENDA, focus turns to the House

For session after session, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act has died in committee. That may not be the bill’s fate in the 113th Congress.

On Nov. 4, the U.S. Senate voted 61-30 to move forward with debating ENDA, which would ban bias based on sexual orientation and gender identity in the workplace with exceptions for businesses with fewer than 15 employees, religious institutions and the Armed Forces.

Debate followed the procedural vote and, on Nov. 7, the Senate made history, voting 64-32 to pass ENDA. 

Going into the big week, the bill had 54 Senate co-sponsors and at least 60 senators — including all the Democrats in the chamber — who were confirmed “yes” votes.

The civil rights legislation, in some form, has been introduced in every congressional session since 1994 except the 109th. 

In the 113th Congress, Colorado Democrat Jared Polis is the chief sponsor in the House, where ENDA is before the Judiciary; Education and the Workforce; and House Administration, Oversight and Government Reform committees. The measure has 186 co-sponsors, including Wisconsin Reps. Ron Kind, Gwen Moore and Mark Pocan.

Oregon Democrat Jeff Merkley is the chief sponsor in the Senate, where ENDA gained approval from the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee in June. Three Republicans on that committee — Mark Kirk of Illinois, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Orrin Hatch of Utah — backed the bill. The bipartisan support led Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to say, in the midst of the summer’s partisan feuds, that he would seek to bring ENDA to the floor in the fall.

Throughout the dog days of August, equality advocates lobbied for votes in key states where Democratic senators hadn’t signed on to ENDA or where moderate Republicans were considering support.

In October, Americans for Workplace Opportunity, a coalition of civil rights and labor groups, brought citizens to the Capitol to press for ENDA, a campaign overshadowed by the partial government shutdown that began just days before the scheduled lobby day.

In a floor speech on ENDA, co-sponsor Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., said, “Every American deserves the freedom to work free of discrimination. And passing the Employment Non-Discrimination Act strengthens this freedom by recognizing the right to be judged based on your skills, talents, loyalty, character, integrity and work ethic.”

Merkley added, “I think back to Martin Luther King’s commentary that the great arc of the universe bends toward justice and I feel that our notion of fairness about employment, how central that is to pursuit of happiness, how central it is to equality, how central it is to the golden rule …. means that we will accomplish this. But I do hope it’s sooner rather than later.”

Kirk delivered his first floor speech since returning to the Senate after a stroke to encourage support for ENDA.

Though there were votes against the bill, there was no spoken opposition on the floor in the procedural vote on Nov. 4. 

And in the vote that sent ENDA to the House, 54 Democrats and 10 Republicans backed the bill.

”All Americans deserve a fair opportunity to pursue the American dream,” said U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, a chief sponsor of the legislation.

President Barack Obama had praise for “common sense” and bipartisanship in the Senate.

Many others who cheered the Senate actions also stressed bipartisanship — and encouraged members of the House to take note of the GOP votes for the bill, as well as conservative support for equal opportunity at work. House Speaker John Boehner repeatedly has stated his opposition to ENDA, putting him at odds with a majority of Americans and a majority in his party.

“Most conservatives believe people in the workforce should be judged on their merits. They shouldn’t be judged on characteristics that are irrelevant in a productive employee,” said Jeff Cook-McCormac, a senior adviser to the GOP-focused American Unity Fund.

The fund is led by Republican Paul Singer, who has pledged $250,000 to Americans for Workplace Opportunity to pass ENDA this year. Democrat Jonathan Lewis of Miami also has pledged $250,000 to the campaign.

The funding commitment, said Americans for Workplace Opportunity campaign manager Matt McTighe, “is yet another indicator of the unusual partnerships —conservatives and liberals, Fortune 500 companies and labor unions — who are uniting behind this year’s effort to pass ENDA.”

Lewis and Singer “realize there is simply nothing partisan about protecting every American from discrimination on the job,” said Chad Griffin, the president of the Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest LGBT civil rights group. “Each and every person in this country should be able to go to work without fear of being fired because of who they are or who they love. That’s not a Democratic value or a Republican value, it’s an American value.”

A recent national survey by TargetPoint Consulting, where Republican pollster Alex Lundry is the chief data scientist, found that two-thirds of voters, including 56 percent of Republicans, support passing a federal law to ban workplace bias based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

And 86 percent of Republicans agreed with the statement, “We should all follow the Golden Rule and treat others as we’d like to be treated, including gay, lesbian and transgender Americans.”

The percentage stayed about the same when Republicans were asked about equality in the workplace: 86 percent agreed that “everyone has a right to earn a living — including gay, lesbian and transgender Americans — and workers should be judged on the job they do, nothing more, nothing less.”

Lundry said supporting ENDA is smart policy and smart politics. Lundy said GOP support for the bill “is a testament to the conservative values at the heart of the proposed law.”

Workplace equality opponents tend to be on the far right of the political spectrum — such as the national Family Research Council and Traditional Values Coalition and regional Wisconsin Family Action, which before the Senate vote circulated the FRC’s false claims that ENDA would give special status to LGBT employees and that it threatens “the free market, undermines employers’ rights and violates the free exercise of religion.”

Heritage Action for America also opposes the bill, claiming it would “severely undermine civil liberties … and trample on religious liberty.”

Out for equal

Thirty-four percent of LGBT adults who are closeted at work would become comfortable coming out if the Employment Non-Discrimination Act passed Congress, according to a Harris poll released in October and commissioned by Out & Equal Workplace Advocates. — L.N.

Milwaukee Dems announce election night plans

Where are Democrats gathering on election night in Milwaukee? U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore, retiring U.S. Sen. Herb Kohl, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett are celebrating the election at the Hyatt Regency, 333 W. Kilbourn Ave., downtown Milwaukee. They’ll be joined with representatives and volunteers from the Obama-Biden campaign and the Baldwin for Senate campaign.

The event is open to the public – and free to attend. Doors to the ballroom open at 8:15 p.m.

News organizations likely will begin setting up at the Hyatt at about 5:30 p.m. and begin broadcasting by 6 p.m.

The event will serve as Moore’s election night party.

Tammy Baldwin, who is running against Tommy Thompson for the Senate, will hold her party in Madison.

Military leaders asked to give benefits to gay discharges

U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore, D-Wis., has joined with the openly gay members of Congress and others in calling on the Secretaries of Defense and Veterans Affairs to ensure that gay and lesbian servicemembers discharged under “don’t ask, don’t tell” get the benefits they earned.

Moore joined in signing letters addressed to Defense Secretary Robert Gates and VA Secretary Eric Shinseki asking for policy change as repeal of “don’t ask” moves forward. U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., and Reps. Barney Frank, D-Mass., Jared Polis (D-Colo.) and David Cicilline (D-R.I.) also signed.

The letters also ask Secretaries Gates and Shinseki to address the issue of discharge characterizations in the repeal process. Some gay and lesbian service members were discharged in a way that may block access to health care for veterans, education through the GI Bill and other benefits.

“Even after we have ceremoniously repealed ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ we know there are still consequences,” Moore said. “For some gays and lesbians the policy might as well have been ‘don’t ask, don’t tell, don’t provide veterans benefits they earned.’ We need to get rid of that silent part because we can’t leave anyone behind as our nation moves forward.”

Baldwin said, “It’s time to right a grievous wrong and fully recognize the military service of gay and lesbian Americans discharged under ‘don’t ask, don’t tell.” One way of recognizing their service is to allow them the benefits they rightly earned.  We cannot undo the injustice these former servicemembers have already suffered, but we can begin to serve them as honorably as they served our country.”

Also signing the letters were Reps. John Yarmuth, Henry Waxman, Luis Gutierrez, Shelley Berkley, Pete Stark, Bobby Rush, Ed Markey, Anthony Weiner, Lois Capps, Mike Doyle, Betty McCollum, Betty Sutton, Barbara Lee, Edolphus Towns, Danny Davis, Maxine Waters, Eleanor Holmes Norton, Russ Carnahan, Chellie Pingree, Al Green, Gregory Meeks, Bob Filner, Jan Schakowsky, Keith Ellison, Jim Moran, Karen Bass, Donna Edwards, and John Lewis.