My Representative Judy Chu: Out and Proud in Support of LGBT People
Last night Melinda and I watched “Outrage: Do Ask, Do Tell” (currently showing on HBO — see http://www.hbo.com/docs/programs/outrage/index.html). This is a documentary naming a number of elected conservative Republicans who are gay and who have consistently voted against bills which would have a positive impact on the lives of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered persons in this country. I definitely recommend that everyone should watch this film.
One of those named, David Dreier, is the Congressional Representative in the district just east of where I live. The district is so close, in fact, that our ZIP Code is partly in his district. Dreier’s “secret identity” is such an un-secret that Melinda has called him “closet boy”–since even before she and I got together seventeen years ago. While I can’t imagine the tremendous pressure of living a dual life like he does, the worst part is that his closeting and self-hatred are so deep that he feels that he has to vote against LGBT legislation.
We were represented by Dreier until the redistricting took place following the 2000 census; at that time we were made part of California’s 32nd Congressional District. What a joy and a delight to be represented by Hilda Solis–someone who “gets it” about LGBT issues, along with all justice and environmental issues.
When Hilda Solis was named as Secretary of the Department of Labor, I was proud. Not only was she my Representative, but she had grown up in the same poor little Southern California town where I grew up–“just another girl from La Puente,” I like to say. But I had mixed feelings because I hated to lose her vote on the Hill.
Then Judy Chu was elected. I could not ask for a better choice. Not only does she vote favorably on LGBT (and ALL progressive) issues, she puts herself out there for the cause, and has done so for years.
When I contacted her office about support for the Respect for Marriage Act (H.R. 3567) on the day that it was introduced, I knew that she would be supportive, but she wasn’t yet listed as a co-sponsor. I was requesting that she do so–something she has subsequently done. Since my representative is so out and proud on behalf of LGBT people, I can do no less that be out and proud about my support for her. Thank you, Dr. Judy Chu!
Here is the letter that I got from her:
Dear Ms. Swenston,
Thank you for taking the time to write to me and express your support for the Respect for Marriage Act (H.R. 3567). I appreciate hearing your thoughts and welcome the opportunity to respond to your comments.
I strongly support the Respect for Marriage Act and am proud to be a co-sponsor. I know how important this issue is to thousands of families throughout our country and in our community.
As you know, the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) became law in 1996. DOMA declares that the legal definitions of “marriage” and “spouse” exclude any same-sex marriages with regard to any federal law. It allows states to refuse to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states. This effectively bars legally married same-sex couples from receiving the same rights as heterosexual couples like federal employee pensions, social security survivor benefits, and federal tax benefits. The Respect for Marriage Act (H.R. 3567) would repeal DOMA. This bill has been referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary, where it awaits further action.
LGBT families are just like all other American families. They pay taxes, participate in their communities, raise children, and care for elderly parents. The federal government affords critical obligations and benefits to individuals based on marital status, yet thousands of married same-sex couples do not share the same rights as married heterosexual couples. As a result, married same-sex couples and their families from across the country are not provided equal treatment under law. The discrimination enshrined in DOMA is fundamentally unfair and it should be repealed.
Throughout my career in public service, I have worked tirelessly to build bridges among different political parties and people of different backgrounds. As a member of the California State Assembly I voted in favor of AB 849, which would have legalized same-sex marriage. I pledge to continue to champion for the equality of all persons as your new Congresswoman. You may be interested to learn that I recently participated in a hearing on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (HR 3017), which would prohibit employment discrimination on the basis of actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. This is a bill which I am also proud to co-sponsor.
As Congress continues to debate and vote on these important bills, I encourage you to monitor them as they make their way through the legislative process at http://thomas.loc.gov
Again, thank you for taking the time to contact me about such an important issue. As your newly elected Congresswoman, I would like to invite you to visit my website at http://chu.house.gov for updates on healthcare and other issues important to you and your family. My office is here to serve you, so please feel free to call (626) 448-1271 or (202) 225-5464 for assistance.
I am honored to work on your behalf and all who reside in 32nd Congressional District of California.
Judy Chu, PhD
Member of Congress