Dr. Jillian T. Weiss

Sen. Robert Byrd of WV: Legislator of the Day

Filed By Dr. Jillian T. Weiss | October 20, 2009 11:30 AM | comments

Filed in: Politics, Politics
Tags: employment discrimination, Employment Non-Discrimination Act, ENDA, Robert Byrd, West Virginia

Senator Robert Byrd is the oldest and longest-serving member of the Senate. While some feel that his recent fragile health means that he cannot be counted on for a vote, he has Byrd.jpgbeen quite active in the past few weeks after recovering from a fall, and he plans to be active in the health care reform debate.

I believe that Senator Byrd, like the junior Senator from West Virginia, Jay Rockefeller, could very well support ENDA if he knew that people in his state supported the bill.

Please call Senator Byrd and ask for his support for S.1584. Send this to your friends and LGBT organizations in West Virginia. Contact info and more after the jump.

Senator Byrd has changed greatly, as the nation has, during his half-century of tenure in the Senate.

According to Wikipedia, Senator Robert Byrd renounced his Klan membership, which occurred in 1942 for one year, starting when he was 24. He said he had joined the Klan because he felt it offered excitement and was anti-communist. He said, in 2005, "I know now I was wrong. Intolerance had no place in America. I apologized a thousand times... and I don't mind apologizing over and over again. I can't erase what happened." Byrd also joined with other Southern and border state Democrats to filibuster the Civil Rights Act of 1964, personally filibustering the bill for 14 hours, a move he now says he regrets.

As proof of the fact that he can be supportive of the LGBT community, in June, 2002, he voted YES on adding sexual orientation to definition of hate crimes, reversing his June 2000 position. He did not vote on the July 16, 2009 bill to add hate crimes to the Defense Authorization Act, but I don't know whether that was because of opposition or poor health or some other reason.

Call Senator Byrd and ask him to support S.1584
DC: 202-224-3954
Martinsburg 304-264-4626
Charleston 304-342-5855
(click here for email).

If you're not sure what to say when you call, click here for a "Step-by-Step Script For Calling Legislators On ENDA."

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My mother and I both called today. The staffer that answered claimed to not even know what the bill was. She took our names, phone numbers, addresses, and our position on it. It's depressing the staffers don't have a clue.

Don't despair, Ed. Your call was very important, even if the staffer seemed clueless. After all, there's one staffer who's not clueless any more! It's remarkable how a few calls can make a difference, so good on you! Your call and your mom's call are very much appreciated here.


Best hopes but Byrd will be a tough nut to crack. He was one of only three Democratic Senators who voted in favor of a Federal Marriage Amendment. He may have changed a lot in some ways but clearly not so much in others.