Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and I go way back. Here is a picture of us chilling in Fire Island.
Well, okay, the truth is we met just once — briefly — at a fundraiser. But there is no one I am more proud to have shared a moment with in all my years in the political arena. Sen. Gillibrand championed overturning the repeal of Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell. Through her relentless pursuit of equality her promise to the LGBT community became a reality. She is a major reason why we won this fight and Truth Wins Out is thrilled to call her an ally.
I still think back to that fundraiser this summer on Fire Island. She spoke with eloquence, passion and conviction about overturning the failed DADT policy. Was it simply a calculated political act or a genuine expression of support?
Well, we all know the answer to that question now. Congratulations, Mrs. Gillibrand.
Today, The New York Times had a feature story on Gillibrand’s ascent in the Senate that is well worth reading. Here are a few key snippets:
Pounding the lectern on the Senate floor, raising her voice almost to a shout, Ms. Gillibrand hectored, reasoned with and sought to shame her colleagues into ending the 17-year-old ban on gays’ serving openly in the military.
“If you care about national security, if you care about our military readiness,” she demanded, “then you will repeal this corrosive policy.”
The repeal passed two hours later on Saturday, but Ms. Gillibrand, a Democrat, had little time to savor the moment.
Her mother — a black belt in karate who the senator said “did things differently her whole life” — worked in the arts and surrounded herself with gay friends. During the height of the AIDS crisis, Ms. Gillibrand’s sister, a playwright and actress, volunteered to help children with AIDS.
And when Ms. Gillibrand was a young associate, working long nights at the law firm Davis Polk & Wardwell, she recalled, “the straight men found time to date and get married and have kids and went home at six every night, and the only ones left were the women and gay men.”
So she wound up vacationing with gay colleagues on Fire Island and in the Hamptons, and forging lifelong friendships. “A lot of them are now having children,” she said. “And it never occurred to me that they should not have every benefit that I have.”
Richard Socarides, a former aide to President Bill Clinton and founder of Equality Matters, a gay advocacy organization, said he was initially wary of Ms. Gillibrand, thinking she was courting gays for purely political reasons as she sought to broaden her appeal statewide.
But she won him over with her fervor, strategic thinking, fearlessness and litigator’s tenacity. “If she has decided she’s going to get something done,” he said, “don’t get in her way, because you will get run over.”
There is much more to read in the story by David Halbfinger, so check it out.
I’ll end by saying how nice it was to write a post on a politician who did right by the LGBT community and made us proud. We usually pen articles about scoundrels and double-dealing hypocrites. But not this time – because Sen. Gillibrand IS THE REAL DEAL.
Not only is she the prettiest Senator, it turns out she may be one of the brightest and most effective. She has served New York with aplomb and the nation is fortunate to have such a wise and tenacious stateswoman. I hope she one day considers a run for the White House.
On behalf of Truth Wins Out — thank you for your leadership and support for equality. It will not be forgotten.