The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Marcus Mrowka, 202-531-0689

SEIU's Mary Kay Henry: 'A Bittersweet Day For Civil Rights in America'

Senate Ends Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, While Failing to Pass DREAM Act


Service Employees International Union (SEIU) International President Mary Kay Henry issued the following statement in response to the Senate's action to repeal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" while blocking the DREAM Act:

"Saturday was a bittersweet day for civil rights in America. We took a tremendous step forward by allowing gay and lesbian soldiers to serve our country openly, but then witnessed a handful of intolerant Senators block the dreams of some of our best and brightest children."

"The Senate's action to end the discriminatory practice of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' is a historic victory in the effort to extend equal rights to all Americans. Anyone who is brave enough to put on a uniform and serve our country deserves to do so openly and with pride, no matter whom they love."

"But we cannot be a country of equal rights for some. The Senators who voted to block the DREAM Act voted against our children and against equality for all. The DREAM Act would change the lives of half a million kids who represent the best future for America. People like Taha Mowla, who is on his way to becoming a pediatrician, and like Herta Llusho, whose dream is to become an electrical engineer. And people like Walter Lara, who graduated from his Florida high school with a 4.7 GPA and 1,000 hours community service, to achieve his goal of becoming a graphic designer. The Senators who chose to put politics ahead of doing what's right chose to kill the dreams of our children.

"We cannot live up to our true promise as a nation until we extend equal rights to all. Until we realize that we are united as one people. Until we link arms across our country--young and old, gay and straight, immigrant and native-born, Republican and Democrat, black, white, Latino, and Asian--to end discrimination and advance peace and justice for all."

With 2 million members in Canada, the United States and Puerto Rico, SEIU is the fastest-growing union in the Americas. Focused on uniting workers in healthcare, public services and property services, SEIU members are winning better wages, healthcare and more secure jobs for our communities, while uniting their strength with their counterparts around the world to help ensure that workers--not just corporations and CEOs--benefit from today's global economy.