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Tucson Arizona enacts DADT repeal resolution

By Denny Meyer

Last month the City of Tucson Arizona joined the growing list of cities, counties, and the State of California, that have sent a resolution to Congress advocating the repeal of the Don't Ask Don't Tell policy.  In the spring of 2005, the New York City Council, by an overwhelming vote, sent the first such resolution.  West Hollywood and San Francisco followed.  Over the next two years, resolutions were enacted in Cathedral City, CA, Chicago, St. Louis, Atlanta, Portland, OR, and Dekalb County, GA.  Similar resolutions were also enacted by the California legislature, Stonewall Democrats, and Jewish War Veterans.

As the sixth largest GLBT community in the nation, Tucson has a highly active GLBT Commission that brings issues to the attention of the seven-member City Council and the Mayor who jointly vote on issues, as they did unanimously to urge their congressional delegation to repeal DADT.  According to John-Peter Wilhite, a GLBT Commission Member, the nearly year-long process that led to the vote was a joint effort by commissioners Amanda Simpson, Pam Liberty, Brenda Kazen, himself, and
out Council Member Karin Uhlich. 
Speaking at a press conference after the vote was transgender veteran Erin Russ, whose presence, at the invitation of Commissioner Wilhite, symbolized the City's commitment to full inclusion of the rights of all its citizens and a municipal intolerance of discrimination.

Tucson GLBT Commission Member Wilheite, originally from Indianapolis, with degrees in Human Communications and fashion (well, he is gay, after all), began being a gay activist in college by helping to establish the first gay and lesbian student association at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, NY.  He later was a member of ACTUP in San Francisco and has served on numerous boards, advisory councils, and sub-commissions as well as political campaigns on behalf of gay candidates.

Erin Russ, a former Army Infantry Captain, who spoke at the Tucson press conference regarding Don't Ask Don't Tell, is featured in a Gay Military Signal profile of her life and service.

  2007  Gay Military Signal