JCPA Reacts to two Senates votes

Last weekend, the Senate voted on two JCPA legislative priorities, “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and the DREAM Act.  “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”, the policy banning gays and lesbians from serving openly in the military, was repealed by a bipartisan vote of 65-31.  The DREAM Act, which failed on a procedural motion, would have put children of undocumented immigrants who graduate high school and commit to joining the military or going to college, onto a path to citizenship.  The JCPA statements on both votes are below.

A New Chapter in Civil Rights

JCPA Praises Congress for allowing Lesbian and Gay Americans to Serve with Honesty and Honor

American values were advanced today with the protection of the right of gay and lesbian Americans to serve in our military said a leading American Jewish organization.  The Jewish Council for Public Affairs praised the Senate’s vote to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” a decision that will allow all Americans to serve openly and honorably in the military.

“The U.S. Congress took a stand for American values today and overwhelmingly protected the dignity of service members,” said Rabbi Steve Gutow, JCPA President.  “With today’s vote, Americans may serve without being forced to choose between their commitment to our country and their integrity. We thank the Senate and the House for their persistence in affirming the rights of Americans to serve our nation without discrimination.  We appreciate the important sacrifice made by all members of our armed services, including those who are lesbian and gay.  We recognize that there are deeply held beliefs on this issue.  In that context, we appreciate the Department of Defense’s thorough review and careful analysis of how best to implement this law.  The day has come for all military personnel, including gay and lesbian service members, to be subject to the same rules of conduct.”

“The enactment of legislation protecting the right of all Americans to serve without regard to their sexual orientation is a milestone in America’s long campaign for equal rights,” stated JCPA Chair Dr. Conrad Giles.  “This step forward for civil rights brings the United States military into the mainstream of western nations.  The vast majority of our NATO allies prohibit discrimination against lesbians and gays in their militaries as do the Israeli Defense Forces.  We particularly thank Senator Joe Lieberman and Representative Patrick Murphy for their steadfast leadership and commitment to this legislation. ”

Earlier this year, representatives of JCPA’s member agencies approved a resolution explicitly calling for repeal of this policy at the JCPA Plenum.  The JCPA authored a Jewish community letter to Congress urging repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” calling it unjust and an anomaly among western nations.  “Today’s vote is a move forward and a gratifying result,” said Gutow.

Congress to Young Immigrants: Keep Yearning
College and Military Hopefuls Turned Away as Senate Rejects Immigration Bill

The Senate’s failure to pass the DREAM Act was painful, said a leading American Jewish organization.  The Jewish Council for Public Affairs expressed disappointment in today’s vote and renewed its commitment to advocating for DREAM Act and a comprehensive immigration reform in the next Congress.

“The Senate missed an opportunity to extend the American dream,” said JCPA Chair Dr. Conrad Giles.  “The children who would have been protected by the DREAM act deserve their chance.  They grew up here, graduated high school, and contribute to our country.  They serve in our military or are attaining a college degree.  They deserve a chance to thrive as American citizens.  Sensible proposals like the DREAM Act respond to real needs and offer real opportunities. They should be enacted.   We welcome these DREAMers who are committed to building a better life for them and their children, and we are pleased that they want to do it here.”

“We are  troubled by this vote to turn America’s back on children who have grown up in the United States and hope to live the American dream – like so many of our parents and grandparents.  Thousands of dedicated and educated young people are now forced into the shadows of our society.  They must live in continual fear of deportation from the country they call home,” said Rabbi Steve Gutow, President of the JCPA.  “Our values, as Jews and as Americans, teach us to “welcome the stranger.”  But tonight we have missed a chance to welcome hard working students and young people.  DREAM is not a solution to all of our immigration problems, but it is a necessary step. Tonight, the light the from Lady Liberty’s lamp is dimmed.  But it is not extinguished – because we remain committed to the ideals Emma Lazarus wrote about in the ‘New Colossus.’”

The JCPA and its national and local member agencies have passed numerous resolutions calling for a comprehensive immigration reform that secures American borders, updates our immigration policies, and provides a legal and fair pathway to citizenship for the millions of undocumented workers living alongside us in our communities.

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