AVER President to Testify Before US Civil Rights Commission

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American Veterans for Equal Rights (AVER) National President Danny Ingram has been invited to testify before the United States Commission on Civil Rights (USCCR) on Friday, May 31, 2013, at 9:30 AM at the Commission’s headquarters in Washington, DC.

The briefing will be entitled “Is the Federal Government Adequately Protecting the Civil Rights of Our Veterans and Service Members Who Have Fought for Our Rights?” According to the USCCR, the purpose of the briefing is “to examine the current status and enforcement of veterans and service members’ civil rights by various federal agencies.”

The briefing will consist of three panels and each panelist will be given approximately 7 minutes for his or her presentation. At the completion of each panel, there will be a question and answer period where USCCR Commissioners will ask questions.

The USCCR has specifically invited AVER’s president to address issues of concern to LGBT veterans and service members. The Commission has asked that his “testimony” address the following issues:

  • Services your organization provides to veterans;
  • Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell;
  • Federal agencies’ enforcement efforts of existing laws that protect the civil rights of veterans and service members;
  • Identified gaps in the protections afforded to our veterans and service members; and the need to strengthen existing laws or expand protections for veterans and service members such as in housing, employment, and health-related benefits and services.

The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights was created by the Civil Rights Act of 1957, and Congress has reauthorized or extended the legislation creating the Commission several times. According to their website, the USCCR is “an independent, bipartisan, fact-finding federal agency, our mission is to inform the development of national civil rights policy and enhance enforcement of federal civil rights laws. We pursue this mission by studying alleged deprivations of voting rights and alleged discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, age, disability, or national origin, or in the administration of justice. We play a vital role in advancing civil rights through objective and comprehensive investigation, research, and analysis on issues of fundamental concern to the federal government and the public.”

Mr. Ingram plans to focus his presentation on the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and how the law discriminates against same-sex married service members. In addition his prepared comments will focus on the designation of LGBT service members as a protected class in the Military Equal Opportunity (MEO) Program and the VA’s Center for Minority Veterans. Ingram plans to call for an end of the exclusion of Transgender Americans from military service and a streamlining to the process of Less-Than-Honorable discharge upgrades for LGBT veterans.

“This is a great opportunity to take a final swing at DOMA just before the upcoming Supreme Court decision in June,” said Mr. Ingram. “Hopefully this opportunity to testify before the Civil Rights Commission can help influence that decision.”

The USCCR is located at 1331 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Suite 1150, Washington, DC 20425, and their hearings are frequently open to the public. For more information call (202) 376-7700.