March 6th, 2005

Queer Vets' Benefits at Risk?

By Lara Ballard
An Advocate.com exclusive posted on February, 1, 2005

On January 6 veterans across the country were shocked to learn that Republican congressman Chris Smith of New Jersey, the chair of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, had been ousted from his position in favor of the much more right-wing Republican Steve Buyer of Indiana.

Smith was widely regarded as a staunch defender of veterans' benefits, and it is widely believed that the GOP removed him in order to replace him with someone who would be much more amenable than Smith had been to implementing severe cutbacks at the US Department of Veterans Affairs.

Does this matter at all to the GLBT community? You wouldn't think so, from the reaction of GLBT rights organizations, which was silence. In fact, you'd be hard pressed to find a press release or public statement from any GLBT organization on any matter related to VA. I cannot find a single GLBT lobbyist who has contacts on either of the Veterans Affairs Committees, nor a single HIV/AIDS organization that will so much as provide a link from its Web site to the VA's HIV/AIDS information page.
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