Chapter 32. Lobbyists
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527 32 Lobbyists, a Conversation The Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund, in 1999– 2000, sponsored a series interviews, videotaped by Ward and Associates, to commemorate the tenth anniversary of the passage of the ADA. The series reunited some of the major players in the campaign to reminisce on what they had accomplished. “That was an amazing piece of solidarity. When I think about it now, it really does almost make me cry.” Paul Marchand, whose account as an activist in the parents’ movement is featured in chapter 7, was the chairman of the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD), which he described as “the Washington-based coalition of national disability groups working together” to improve the lives “of our constituency.” Karen Peltz Strauss, featured in chapter 29, was the supervising attorney at the National Center for Law and the Deaf, which has since changed its name to the National Center for Law and Deafness at Gallaudet University. David Capozzi was the national advocacy director for the Paralyzed Veterans of America, and Karen Friedman was the deputy legislative director for the Human Rights Campaign Fund (now the Human Rights Campaign). They begin their conversation with a discussion of the relationship between Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, up to that point the nation’s most potent federal cvil rights law for people with disabilities, and the ADA. MR . CAPOZZI: There was a meeting held by the National Council on Disability and I think it was Sandy Parrino or Pat [Wright] who talked about “the donut and the hole.” The question was: should we go for a 528 chapter 32 broad, all-encompassing law, or start with Section 504 and amend that and make that better? I don’t know if 504 was the donut or the hole.’ MR. MARCHAND: [It was] the hole. MR. CAPOZZI: That was the hole, and we went for the donut. . . . That was an important point. . . . I think the National Council was waffling as to which way to go. But I think that [this agreement] solidified everybody’s position, and we then all went forward in one unified way, all finally agreeing that this was the approach we wanted to take. MS. PELTZ STRAUSS: For me, I think the turning point was a meeting with Senator Harkin’s staff, [with] Bobby Silverstein. We had been meeting for several years before the ADA to talk about how to get access to telecommunications for people who are deaf and hard of hearing, and had been drafting our own proposals for this really revolutionary concept that telephone companies would start providing relay services on a nationwide basis. We were never quite sure whether or not we had any chance of having [the] telephone companies or Congress go along with this. I remember a meeting that we had with Bobby and I think Senator Harkin, and they said they were going to put it into the ADA. We knew at that point that we had our vehicle, because we knew that a stand-alone law would have much less chance of passage. MS. FRIEDMAN: From our perspective the fact that we were fighting to get people with HIV infection in the Americans with Disabilities Act during a Republican administration was an amazing thing in and of itself. The fact that the gay rights organizations were able to work in concert with the disability community was a turning point. For me it was a combination of doing grassroots actions and watching how many members of Congress were beginning to support our efforts. . . . Our opposition, besides some conservative Republicans, were the National Restaurant Association, who had done this campaign saying that it wasn’t so much people with AIDS or HIV infection—they knew that you couldn’t transmit AIDS or HIV infection through food—but it was the perception. It was that argument that rallied so many organizations with us because what we are talking about here was not the reality, but the perception. So for me it was just a wonderful, historic moment in my life, organizing with the disability community this big campaign lobbyists, a conversation 529 where we stuffed lunch bags with information, and we said the National Restaurant Association is “out to lunch.” There were people with disabilities lining themselves up and down the Capitol steps, and we gave out these lunch bags. I can’t say that that was what ensured that we defeated what was then the Chapman amendment that the National Restaurant Association had...


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Subject Headings

  • United States. Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.
  • People with disabilities -- Civil rights -- United States -- History.
  • People with disabilities -- Legal status, laws, etc. -- United States -- History.
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