Joanne Cipolla-Dennis of Freeville, New York, a friend of the New NY 23rd, wrote the following article. It was originally published as a letter in the Ithaca.Com on November 8. We published it with Joanne’s permission.
As a responsible American I voted for people I believed would serve the public with abundant opportunities. My grand parents were immigrants and helped to mold this nation. My father served in WWII, my brother in Viet Nam and I served on 4 duty stations around the world as a partner to a Chief in the US Navy. When I see old glory fly the pride I have for those who serve is immeasurable. When it covers a fallen soldiers coffin fallen soldiers coffin I cannot contain my emotions. As a volunteer of the American Military Partner Association, a non profit, non partisan organization I meet with elected officials in getting care that is still denied to our troops. I spoke to Congressman Reed twice in person. Many family members are Republican and support steadfast values of freedom; liberty and justice for all that define our great nation.
But after listening to Reeds positions that are not well publicized, perhaps because he is discriminatory we cannot vote for him. Reed was adamant he would not be changing his position to deny some of our fallen soldiers, their widows and children survivors pay and recognition. Reed admitted he too like most American families has a gay sibling, but said because his policies leave his family relations “strained and difficult”. Reed has power to make historical changes but says he will continue denying gays the same rights, protections and privileges of marriage he and his wife enjoy.
Tom refuses to sign The Resect for Marriage Act that his constituents, including the retired marine who works in office in Corning, supports. Signing it would ensure all marriages performed in states that recognize constitutional rights to marriage are recognized in all other states. Reed could end the Jim Crow like discrimination suffered by all married same gender couples traveling. Those who are forced to move for jobs to states that now refuse to recognize their legal marriages lose their married names, all insurance and even ability to make legal health care decisions for their spouse’s even burials are denied. Current law means an accident can cause disastrous consequences by denying the custody of children to the surviving parent. Heinous trauma is caused as custody rights are revoked in many states states like N.C. This is determined by the state they happen to be traveling in. The surviving legal parent in one state is considered a stranger in another state even though that parent may have adopted the child. The signing of the RFA would stop this from happening and restore rights nationally preserving custody.
I went to Reed twice to ask him why he supports such cruel laws. His response remains, “I believe that marriage is only for one man and one woman and gays should not have the same rights and protections through marriage.” Reeds position is counter productive to a free nation and is unbecoming to the Republican party which values freedom above all else and is the foundation of the party. Denying freedom to women, gays, other races and immigrants is what many obsolete Republicans promote even in 2014.
Reed record reveals he voted against protection for gays, against equal pay for women, against equal rights for women, against our troops having the same survivors benefits. He supported legislation that legalizes the firing of gay people from any religious affiliated employer by signing the Employment Non Discrimination Act.
Our last meeting was about Military Police Sgt. Donna Johnson who was serving a second tour of duty in Afghanistan and killed in action in 2012. Her wife Tracy, also serving 12 years in combat, is still denied all survivors’ pay and recognition as a widow because Reed refuses to sign to support recognition. This widow is still denied the $1200.00 a month survivors pay she is entitled to since 2012. Tom refuses to join responsible Republicans like Richard Hanna who did sign the act.
Unfortunately Reed says he will not be changing his position and will continue to deny our troops equal pay and the very freedom, liberty and justice America values.
It is the responsibility of voters to choose a candidate who most reflects their own positions. The position to deny human beings of human things is not one I would proudly support. Criminalizing humans through homophobia driven legislation that Reed is proud of is not my idea of promoting freedom, liberty and justice for all. Reeds unacceptable message that our family members and military are not worthy of love, inclusion, marriage and human rights is harmful and cruel yet people still supported him because they either are not aware of his actual record or they share his intention to deny freedom and proudly plant his name stating with a lawn sign.
I encourage the Republican party to bring forth candidates who value freedom for all, support all fallen soldiers and their spouses and children. Denying recognition and survivors benefits to those who sacrifice their lives in the name of freedom means all die in vain.