Last night, I attended a Los Angeles-area fundraiser for the Service Members Legal Defense Network (SLDN), a group “dedicated to ending discrimination against and harassment of military personnel affected by “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT).” They also provide legal assistance to those affected by DADT.
When I learned about the fundraiser, I decided to contribute and attend, in large measure because of the tone of the e-mails they send out to their listserve. Unlike most such missives I receive from gay organizations, the folks at SLDN do not engage in partisan rancor. They focus on making the case for repealing the ban and understand they can better achieve their goals by working with Republicans rather than demonizing them.
A case in point was the way the group’s Executive Director, Aubrey Sarvis, handled some questions and comments from people at the last night’s gathering. The crowd was largely left-wing; I may well have been the only Republican in the room. A handful of people made some rather ignorant comments about the tactics of the right and the intransigence of Republicans. One man even suggested that the Club for Growth had an anti-gay agenda.
Sarvis, however, did not indulge these unwarranted attacks on conservative groups an the GOP. Instead, he insisted that SLDN needs to work with Republicans, reminding us that not all Democrats will vote to lift the ban. Later, in a private conversation, I learned that they have already reached out to a number of prominent Republicans, hoping to bring them on board.
I decided to double my modest contribution not merely because of the good work they do, but because of how Sarvis handled the anti-Republican rhetoric. The staff at SLDN do not harbor any animus against Republicans (or if they do, they keep it safely under wraps). They just don’t think it’s a sound strategy to make enemies of the GOP.
I hope that other gay organizations follow their lead and encourage you to join me in supporting SLDN.