A year to the day after the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell (DADT)," Brad Schneider, the Democratic candidate vying for Illinois' 10th District congressional seat against incumbant Bob Dold, hosted a conference call to discuss the impact of that legislation as well as his LGBT platform.
Schneider began by saying those who fought for the repeal "stood up and called this policy exactly what it wasunacceptable. In my mind, it's unconscionable." The Deerfield resident criticized DADT and other policies that "force people to mask their own identities."
Of the repeal, Schneider called it "the right thing to do," adding, "There was no impact on unit cohesion, on recruitment or morale, and I think this was key."
Schneider cited DADT as the issue most asked about when addressing high schoolers. "Universally, these young people are saying we are all the same, we all should have the same opportunities and they're celebrating it," he said. "I haven't felt any push back whatsoever, young or old, in my district on the repeal."
When asked how he has defended LGBT rights in his own career and personal life, the buisness owner commented it was simply "the right thing to do" and that he did not practice any discrimination in the workplace.
Asked if he would have signed a bill such as the National Defense Authorization Act, which had anti-LGBT amendments tacked on, Schneider said, "We shouldn't use these bills as excuses for extreme ideologies."
As with his recent campaign commercials, Schneider employed the forum to chastise his opponent's LGBT record, labeling Dold "on the wrong side of history" with regard to DADT because he "voted to delay the repeal."
Schneider started an online petition for the passage of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), the values of which he claims Dold does not support.
On the matter of marriage equality, Schneider said, "Mr. Dold favors keeping a two-tiered system, where there is a second class of civil unions. I believe two people who want to make a life together, build a future together, should be able to do just that, and it should be marriage, plain and simple."
Windy City Times contacted Dold via email to address his LGBT record. While Dold did not answer specific questions, he offered, "I am proud of my record of reaching out to the LGBT community and working together where we have common ground." Dold stated he works "to advance LGBT inclusion in legislation."
Dold said, "I support civil unions" and views same-sex marriage as a state's-rights issue to "take effect without federal intervention." At one point, it was published on his campaign website, "I believe marriage is between a woman and a man," but recognized the right for same-sex couples "to enter into contractual relationships." That language has since been removed and replaced with wording similar to his email response.
Dold adduced being "one of the few Republican cosponsors of a taxpayer parity bill for LGBT domestic partners," and does not support the reinstatement of DADT.
Asked about Dold being against DADT reinstatement, Schneider countered that the congressman voted to extend the policy, which was in step with the military's wishes at that time. "There is a difference in this race between rhetoric and record," Schneider said. "We're going to hold him accountable to his record. That's what people should be judged on. I expect to be held accountable, as well."