January 7, 2014 - 2:00pm to 3:00pm

Joyce welcomes to the show, David Morrissey, executive director of the United States International Council on Disabilities (USICD), Tony Coelho, former congressman and author of the ADA, Tom Ridge, former Pennsylvania Governor,  Jill Houghton, executive director of the United States Business Leadership Network (USBLN), and Dick Thornburgh, former PA Governor and former U.S. Attorney General.  Each guest will talk about the recent efforts to ratify the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Treaty (CRPD).  The CRPD seeks to hold other countries accountable to the same standards of accessibility set forth by the Americans with Disabilities Act when it was passed on July 26, 1990.

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"DISABILITY MATTERS" WITH HOST JOYCE BENDER

JANUARY 7, 2014

GUESTS:  DAVID MORRISSEY, TONY COELHO, TOM RIDGE,

JILL HOUGHTON, AND DICK THORNBURGH

 

Services provided by:Caption First, Inc. P.O. Box 3066 Monument, CO 80132 1-877-825-5234 +001-719-481-9835   www.captionfirst.com

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This text is being provided in a rough draft format.  Communication Access Realtime Translation (CART) is provided in order to facilitate communication accessibility and may not be a totally verbatim record of the proceedings.

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   >> Welcome to "Disability Matters" with your host, Joyce Bender.  All comments, views, and opinions expressed on this show are solely those of the host, guest, and callers.  Now the host of "Disability Matters."  Here's Joyce Bender. 

   >> JOYCE BENDER: Hey, welcome to the show today.  It's going to be a great show.  I'm sure many of you are very cold, but when you hear this show, you are going to get fired up because this show today is very, very important to me.  As you know, we have had breaking news the past month and a half.  Every show, the beginning of the show, someone has been coming on giving us an update on the ratification of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.  And we are committed here and VoiceAmerica is committed to constantly advertising this.  We want to make a difference. 

   So we have a lot of guests today, and let me just get started.  I know we have -- who is going to be with us the entire show -- David Morrissey.  David, are you with us? 

   >> DAVID MORRISSEY: I am, Joyce. 

   >> JOYCE BENDER: Okay, hey, David, how about if you just give them a quick background…who you are and what you are doing. 

   >> DAVID MORRISSEY: Thanks, Joyce.  I am the Executive Director of the United States International Council on Disabilities.  We're an organization that brings together the American disability community to connect with the global disability community, and we're leading the campaign for the U.S. to ratify this important disability rights treaty. 

   >> JOYCE BENDER: And David, thank you for everything you're doing. 

   >> DAVID MORRISSEY: Oh, thank you. 

   >> JOYCE BENDER: I know you have been our leader and spokesperson, so thank you for your dedication and your hard work. 

   So I have a lot of prestigious guests today, and I am going to begin with someone that I'm very proud to know.  He will be our first guest.  He was the first Secretary of Homeland Security and the former Governor of the great state of Pennsylvania, which we know is the greatest state in the United States, and here I am in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where I am headquartered.  And he has been a champion for us.  And may I tell you, since I lived in the state of Pennsylvania and still do, that he always has been a champion for people with disabilities.  So it is my great honor to have Governor Tom Ridge with us today.  Welcome, Governor Ridge. 

   >> TOM RIDGE: Well, Joyce, it's a great pleasure to join you on your show, and it's a great pleasure to join the distinguished guests that you have in advocating publicly aggressively as effectively as we can to get the United States Senate to approve the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.  It's a great pleasure and privilege to join you. 

   >> JOYCE BENDER: Oh, thank you.  So Governor Ridge, how about if you tell our listeners today across the country why it is so important to you to see CRPD ratified. 

   >> TOM RIDGE: Well, Joyce, my commitment to the UN Convention is really derived from a lifelong commitment to support the challenges associated with people with disabilities.  It began as a very young -- a young boy with a young friend who was severely disabled; through my time in the military as a combat veteran -- there but for the grace of God goes anybody who served.  Some sacrificed their lives.  Others sacrificed their limbs and become disabled.  And with my travel around the world, when I have been in the company of people with disabilities.  At the end of the day, the sense of self-worth that an individual has is really about the opportunities afforded to them to do things that they want to do.  And so the opportunity for the United States that led with the groundbreaking Americans with Disabilities Act to promote the rights and, thereby, the opportunities of the global disabled community is something that I feel very strongly about.  And I think the United Nations is the best and most effective place to advocate for these rights and opportunities for people with disabilities.  So I'm behind it, and I think I'm very much appreciative of your sustained commitment to it as well. 

   >> JOYCE BENDER: Well, and Governor Ridge, thank you so much for serving this country.  Which brings me to ask, would this not impact veterans, veterans with disabilities, this UN Convention? 

   >> TOM RIDGE: Well, it certainly does.  I didn't mention, but you know, I have been privileged to serve as the Chairman of the Board of the National Organization on Disability, and we've got several pilot programs working with veterans with disabilities.  But basically, we say as an organization if you have a disability, we're for you.  We are agnostic about disabilities.  And whether the disability arose because of your service to your country or an accident or by birth, we think there are rights and opportunities that should be afforded to you that are not necessarily available to you at the time. 

   But clearly, I don't know of -- there may be a few exceptions, but I think the broad veterans community, the Veterans of Foreign Wars and the Legion and the variety of these veterans organizations are all supportive of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.  So the veterans community by and large has sustained their support for this.  And the leader of that effort has been another great patriot, another great veteran, one of America's national treasures, Senator Bob Dole, himself a veteran. 

   >> JOYCE BENDER: Yes, I was at the last vote -- which sadly, you know, we did not get to ratify this, which I know that will change -- but Bob Dole was there.  And I was just so moved by the fact that he came there, you know, somewhat frail, and yet there he was, so dedicated to this, right down there, you know, on the floor, just so passionate.  And he has always been a champion of people with disabilities. 

   >> TOM RIDGE: I must tell you from a personal point of view, and Bob Dole has always been one of my heroes in the world of public service, a remarkable man, and for so many of his colleagues who have always praised his service and who have always respected his commitment to his country, whether on the battlefield in World War II or the political battlefield in the United States Senate, for them to frankly disregard his commitment to the treaty, as well as his interpretation -- there's a lot of people that say the treaty is going to do this or the treaty is going to do that.  And when Bob Dole and others like the Attorney General and at the time Dick Thornburgh and great lawyers stand up and say this treaty in no way -- in no way -- infringes on any of the rights of the Americans, this treaty does not require any changes in U.S. law, this treaty does not relinquish any authority to the UN under U.S. law, for people to disagree with that interpretation and disagree with Bob Dole is probably one of the saddest things I've seen, and that's why we have to sustain our commitment to it. 

   >> JOYCE BENDER: And I agree with you.  Actually, my heart went out, of course, to everyone, but I just -- I thought that was unthinkable.  And we will continue to charge on.  And Governor Ridge, what message do you want to leave with all of our listeners today?  What do you want them to do? 

   >> TOM RIDGE: Well, what I would hope the listeners -- first of all, I thank them for tuning in.  Second, I'd like to tell them that the United States is a party to over 10,000 treaties and international agreements, and some of the opponents to this suggest that this treaty will somehow be construed differently and have a negative impact on this country, and I want them to disregard that notion.  Finally, they've got their iPhone or email or if they are still writing letters, I think their strong, grass-roots public advocacy to their respective senators is something that the community of the disabled would very much appreciate. 

   Again, it's not only about rights; it's about opportunities.  And again, I can't reiterate, the United Nations is the best, the most visible, and potentially the most effective form to promote internationally and for America to accept the role and the responsibility to promote the rights of people with disabilities is something that I think it should be -- ADA is our legacy, and using the UN to promote those rights globally should be our future.  I hope they advocate as strongly as they possibly can for it. 

   >> JOYCE BENDER: And I hope you listen to Governor Ridge.  Before he leaves, Governor Ridge, as you have been in public service, doesn't it make a difference when people call, when people take time to call and say please do this?  Doesn't that make a difference? 

   >> TOM RIDGE: Well, I am a strong believer in that grass-roots support for an initiative, and I really believe that there are probably a few senators who are equivocating -- and I am not going to -- I may challenge their interpretation of the treaty because I think most disagree with the negative view of the treaty, but I think a grass-roots support of this is very important.  I want to encourage them to do whatever they can to encourage their strong grass-roots support with their senators. 

   >> JOYCE BENDER: Governor Tom Ridge, I know you had limited time here, but I just want to thank you so much for taking time.  Once again this shows what a great leader you are, that you would take time to do this and that you have continued to be supportive of people like me with epilepsy and a hearing disability and everyone with disabilities.  I want to thank you so much, and we will take the challenge up. 

   >> TOM RIDGE: Well, I am in good company today, Joyce, with you and David Morrissey, and my friend and colleague Dick Thornburgh, I think you get Tony Coelho on and a host of other people.  I encourage your listeners, your voice counts, your opinion counts.  Let it be known. 

   >> JOYCE BENDER: Thank you.  Lead on, Governor Ridge. 

   >> TOM RIDGE: Thanks, Joyce. 

   >> JOYCE BENDER: Thank you.  Wow, we are lucky to have him; aren't we, David? 

   >> DAVID MORRISSEY: Absolutely.  His testimony in November in front of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee as to the importance of U.S. ratification of this treaty really was a gripping moment in the Senate.  His personal experiences traveling the world and being a leader in the disability community really brought a personal case to the importance of this treaty that moved me and many other advocates to continue to fight. 

   And let me add his call to your listeners to make those calls I want to support as well.  And we have a tool that I think can help them, and that is a simple website, disabilitytreaty.org.  It puts all the tools at your listeners' fingertips to make those calls to their senator to call on them to, yes, vote for ratification of the CRPD. 

   >> JOYCE BENDER: And David, what about people --

   >> TONY COELHO: Joyce?  This is Tony.  I'm on the line. 

   >> JOYCE BENDER: Tony Coelho, thank you so much for calling in and joining us. 

   >> TONY COELHO: No problem. 

   >> JOYCE BENDER: Tony will also be with us the entire show, Tony and David.  Tony, I don't know if you heard.  Did you hear Governor Ridge? 

   >> TONY COELHO: I heard everything he said.  I didn't want to interrupt.  He is a great patriot and somebody who did a great service in several capacities to our government, not only as Governor, but to the federal government.  Having his support and his endorsement I think is very important.  And hopefully he can help us with some of those senators that need to be persuaded, along with your grass-roots listeners. 

   >> JOYCE BENDER: Well, first of all, for those of you that don't know -- which I always say, you don't even have to call him Tony Coelho.  If I say Tony, people know who I am talking about.  But congressman -- former Congressman Tony Coelho was the author of the Americans with Disabilities Act, is my mentor, and is a true leader, not just in the United States, but in the world, for all of these issues. 

   And Tony, you have been involved with this for a long time; is that correct? 

   >> TONY COELHO: That's true, from the very beginning. 

   >> JOYCE BENDER: Yeah.  Do you want to talk about that? 

   >> TONY COELHO: Yes, Joyce.  I think that the point that is missed is that we in the disability community in the United States have basically been leading the worldwide effort in regards to respect for those of us with disabilities and making sure that we have our place in society along with everybody else.  We don't want more.  We just want equal recognition and equal opportunity to succeed, just like anybody else. 

   We've got that through the ADA and the ADA Amendments Act, but that took a lot of effort.  And what it took was basically people committed, wanting to succeed and make something happen. 

   On the treaty, what this is, basically, is taking our ADA and making it international.  And so that not everybody will develop an ADA like we have in the United States, nor should they.  I mean, each of them are their own countries, their own constituents.  But basically, it's aspirational.  We want the different countries throughout the world to recognize that instead of aborting babies from disabled mothers because they don't think the disabled mother can handle them, aborting -- I mean, putting young people in hospitals, in camps, and so forth because they have a disability; discriminating against some in that not even giving them a citizenship number or any way to identify that they're a citizen of a country just because they have a disability; none of those things are right just from a moral point of view, and we have an obligation.

   I just get really excited when reading about and listening to the current Pope and what he says about people with disabilities and what he says about the respect for individuals that God brings on this earth.  And that's all this is about.  It doesn't affect -- as Tom Ridge says, doesn't affect any U.S. law.  It doesn't impact any ability by the states or the federal government to do what they want to do.  The UN has no authority over the United States on disabilities or anything else.  And it's just a fear factor that people are deliberately misleading and spreading to try to create fear among people, particularly parents with disabled children, that this is going to impact them in a negative way. 

   And what we have is basically a right wing group who is trying to prevent the recognition that those of us with disabilities want to see happen for our brothers and sisters all over the world who don't have the opportunities that we have here as a result of the ADA. 

   This is really important that we speak out and not let some senators that are being persuaded politically as opposed to really understanding what is going on, but we need to raise our voices.  We need to be engaged.  We need to take on these critics.  Every disability issue has always been bipartisan.  This is not a partisan issue.  This is a bipartisan issue that has been pursued and discussed and led by the United States for decades. 

   So as you can tell, I'm very aggressive and passionate about this. 

   >> JOYCE BENDER: Yes, and actually, I have known Tony, believe it or not, since 1996.  When I first met Tony, he was the Chairman of the President's Committee on Employment of People with Disabilities reporting to President Clinton.  And of course, Tony was also the national chair of the Epilepsy Foundation and AAPD and, you know, author of the ADA. 

   In all those years, I can truthfully say I have never seen Tony as really saddened as I did the day this did not pass.  As a matter of fact, I was photographing people, and I kept this photograph, and I hope I never have to see it again because Tony had his head down, and he was so sad.  And Tony, I know that you know Bob Dole was the same way. 

   >> TONY COELHO: Yes, I've talked to Bob several times.  You know, one of the true leaders in our country on a lot of issues, not just disabilities, but a lot of issues, really respected on both sides.  And to, as Tom Ridge said, to have Bob Dole be rejected by some of the colleagues that have -- some of them even committed to him that they would support the treaty.  Then to renege on him on the Senate floor while he is there was disgraceful, disrespectful, despicable. 

   I was so hurt for him and for all of us in the disability community that this would take place in front of this great American who has sacrificed his life, his whole life has been dedicated to serving the American people, starting with his commitment in the military and, in effect, becoming disabled as a result of his commitment in the military. 

   And so it was a sad day, Joyce.  You are absolutely right.  One of the saddest days I've had because I just always believed in my heart that when it came down to these issues that we would separate politics, put it aside, and really try to lead in regards to what we do for those of us with disabilities. 

   >> JOYCE BENDER: Well, we are going to march on, and we are keeping David and Tony with us throughout the show to make comments and to ask them questions as we move forward.  But I know we have another guest with us, and I think you can tell by these guests we have on the show today how strongly we feel about the ratification of CRPD.  And may I say we have so many other advocates out there, one of which is Rhonda Neuhaus with DREDF, who has this all over the social media today, and it's people like that who's helping us make a difference. 

   But here's another person.  Now we're coming from the private sector because we have as our guest today, the Executive Director of the U.S. Business Leadership Network.  Jill Houghton, welcome to the show. 

   >> JILL HOUGHTON: Thank you, Joyce Bender, and what an honor to join you and Tony and David and Governor Ridge and all your distinguished guests today. 

   >> JOYCE BENDER: Well, we're happy to have you with us.  And how about if you take first a minute so our listeners will know what the USBLN is and how the members are supportive because I want them to realize the power that is also in the business community. 

   >> JILL HOUGHTON: Well, the U.S. Business Leadership Network, also referred to as the USBLN, is also a gift that Tony Coelho gave birth to when he was the Chair of the President's Committee on Employment of People with Disabilities.  We are a national nonprofit that brings business together based on the premise that business responds to their peers.  So we help business drive performance by leveraging disability inclusion in the workplace, the supply chain, and the marketplace. 

   And I will tell you that on behalf of our members and our nearly 50 BLN affiliates across the nation, I'm here because we strongly -- I emphasize strongly -- support the need to ratify the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. 

   >> JOYCE BENDER: Oh, and that is so powerful to hear.  And could you give them an idea of the size of these federal contractors we're talking about? 

   >> JILL HOUGHTON: We are talking about companies like AT&T, IBM, Microsoft, Wal-Mart, the Coca-Cola company, JPMorgan Chase, Verizon, Sprint, Adobe, the list goes on.  And we're going to continue to grow this list.  And we need -- we need listeners.  We need people across America to understand that what's good for people with disabilities is also good for business. 

   This is an incredible opportunity for global corporations.  We need -- we are a leader, and we need the opportunity to promote U.S. standards internationally.  We need the opportunity to be able to export American-made products and services to other countries around the world.  This is good for business.  It's also good for business because as global companies, we need access to talent.  We need talent, and as you and Tony and Governor Ridge know, talent includes people with disabilities, and this begins to level the playing field.  We need to get this done. 

   >> JOYCE BENDER: Yes.  And Tony, what is your feeling about this, having the private sector involved?  And a good point that Jill made is that they're global. 

   >> TONY COELHO: Well, I think this is really the issue is that we have a lot of companies -- before I make any comment, I just want to applaud Jill and her work with USBLN and what a great job she has done, just in general, but particularly in regard to disabilities and getting these businesses to get together and recognize the contribution that those of us with disabilities can make to their companies.  And so I applaud Jill tremendously. 

   Secondly, I think the thing that people don't understand is that the more that we globalize the disability network, in effect, the more goods that are available at cheaper cost to those of us with disabilities in the United States and in every part of the world.  That means wheelchairs.  That means all kinds of devices and applications that make life more visible, livable, and create the opportunities for people with disabilities all over the world.  So globalization is a thing that will bring down the cost and will improve each of these products or services that take place for the worldwide community on disabilities. 

   We have American companies who are involved in this globalization effort, and they are really committed to helping people all over the world in this regard.  But what does it mean?  This means that there are American workers who are developing and building and creating these opportunities for those of us in the disability community.  It's their job.  So we're actually -- this is -- involves American jobs, U.S. jobs, but then it also is people all over the world that these global companies have employed that they will then employ people with disabilities who have accommodations that give them the opportunity to provide a good product or a good service for these companies in any capacity. 

   So what you're doing is you're raising the talent capability of people worldwide with this globalization effort of these businesses and their outreach and their needs and so forth.  So it's a win-win for everybody here, and we are the leader in that.  And if we don't participate in this treaty like other countries, we're going to lose that leadership.  And there's nobody more creative than us in providing these opportunities.  And that's what's sad.  That's what I don't think some of these folks who are critical realize that is happening worldwide and the U.S. opportunity for that to help all kinds of people with disabilities worldwide. 

   >> JOYCE BENDER: Yes.  And Jill, before you leave -- and once again, Jill is the Executive Director of the United States Business Leadership Network and, as Tony mentioned, has just moved it forward and is doing a fabulous job and is not just in the business world but an advocate also.  So Jill, what message do you have for our listeners today? 

   >> JILL HOUGHTON: Raise your voices and be heard.  We need to -- like Tony has talked about, like Joyce has talked about, David and Governor Ridge, we need to mobilize at the local level.  We need to reach out to our elected officials, to our senators, and we need to let them know that they have got to vote yes.  We need their support.  They have got to hear from us.  And if there's anything that we can do in terms of providing education for business, please don't hesitate to reach out to the USBLN at USBLN.org.  All of our contact information is there.  Happy to provide information.  And be loud.  Let's get loud. 

   >> JOYCE BENDER: I'll go with that.  Lead on, Jill.  Thank you for joining us. 

   >> JILL HOUGHTON: Thank you. 

   >> JOYCE BENDER: So Tony, don't you think it would be a terrible day if a person with a disability could not get a job because of not having the UN Convention? 

   >> TONY COELHO: Yeah, and what bothers me, Joyce, is I don't think we in our community realize the impact of this.  So Jill says get loud.  I say get mad.  Get mad that the Senate is unwilling to do what in every way is morally, legally, ethically right.  Some people say that there are ways that the UN could get involved.  Well, most of us overwhelmingly disagree with that, but that -- let's say that they have some merit.  We are willing to develop reservations, understandings, and what is it, David? 

   >> DAVID MORRISSEY: Declarations. 

   >> TONY COELHO: Declarations.  Reservations, understandings, and declarations, which, in effect, spell out the things which we are concerned about.  And they, over the 200-year history of this country, those RUDs are legal, standing, and have never been abused or whatever.  It is so that if there are legitimate concerns by senators in regard to some of this, let's work out a RUD to take care of it.  Let's not let some people that deliberately, from a very narrow point of view, destroyed the effort that is being made by so many of us to help out the disability community worldwide and to help veterans and businesses and our community here in the United States. 

   >> JOYCE BENDER: And you know what?  I'm with Tony.  Let's get mad.  I love that!  As a matter of fact, I was there, as I said, and I saw disgracefully how Senator Dole was treated.  This is totally bipartisan.  It truly is a completely bipartisan issue.  And after that, as David knows, I started on the social media that if you try to stop this, shame on you.  Shame on you.  When this really is ADA for the world. 

   And David, how about you?  What do you think about this?  And am I not correct when I was speaking earlier?  Didn't we completely have veterans' support on this? 

   >> DAVID MORRISSEY: Absolutely.  The grass-roots community around the United States are really fired up about this.  We have seen people start up their own Facebook pages, their own Twitter campaign.  That's the veterans community, those are parents.  All sorts of advocates for this issue are coming to raise their voices every day asking the Senate, why isn't this done yet?  The package that the Senate has is an excellent package.  As Tony mentioned, that follows traditional American practice on treaties.  It's one that advances U.S. interests, not challenges or weakens our sovereignty.  And it's in the best interest of the U.S.  So it's no wonder that it's a growing movement, and we need those voices. 

   Again, disabilitytreaty.org can help people make those calls that we desperately need coming into their senators now. 

   >> JOYCE BENDER: Disabilitytreaty.org.  Disabilitytreaty.org.  When you go there, it is made so easy for you to get in touch with your senator.  And you know, don't do this one thing.  Don't ever sit back and think, oh, well, you know, it's moving.  I've heard it's moving and I'm behind it.  You must take action.  You've got to take action.  That's the only way we can really make a difference.  And this is so important. 

   I mean, having our veterans, all of our veteran groups, behind this, what does that say? 

   >> DAVID MORRISSEY: To see how multiple generations of veterans care about this issue, from the American Legion and the Veterans of Foreign Wars, to the newer generation of veterans like the Iraq and Afghanistan veterans association and the Wounded Warrior Project.  Over 20 veteran groups are all together on this issue.  They are going on the Hill.  They are talking to senators to see how can we get this done, because this is in the interest of American's veterans. 

   >> JOYCE BENDER: And I will tell you all something, listening to this show, this is what I want you to do.  This show is archived.  Benderconsult.com.  And, of course, voiceamerica.com.  And I want you at the end of this to download this show.  I want you to get this out.  I want you to tell people.  All they have to do is go to iTunes and they can download this show.  Spread the news far and wide.  We've got to make a difference.  And I know that we have with us, oh, someone I admire so much, a dear friend of mine and, most important, a Pittsburgh Pirates fan.  That's the key.  He is an obsessed Pittsburgh Pirates fan. 

   >> GOVERNOR THORNBURGH: Folks, how important it is for the United States to maintain and sustain its leadership role in providing aid to people with disabilities around the world, and that's what this Convention will do. 

   >> JOYCE BENDER: Well, Governor Thornburgh, I wonder if you could talk about that a little bit more, if you could tell your views on, as you well know, there are people that think that this would somehow change the law, that it would make changes.  And I know when you testified, I know you've read this inside and out, and it would not change the law; is that correct? 

   >> DICK THORNBURGH: I'm very puzzled by the objections that are raised to the treaty on the grounds that it will have some adverse effect upon democracy in our country, on our legal system, and on the rights that are protected by legislation like the Americans with Disabilities Act. 

   Let's think back a minute, speaking of the ADA.  Throughout my lifetime, I've been involved with you and others who are interested in seeing that discrimination against people with disabilities is ended and that they're empowered and given rights that let them participate in the mainstream.  But it wasn't always that way. 

   When my son, Peter, now in his 50s, was severely injured in an auto accident in 1960, there were none of these statutes on the books.  There were no rights and protections that were guaranteed by constitutional law.  So we know how important these acts can be.  And to ascribe to them some kind of ulterior motive, that it's meant to undermine our democracy or our system of laws, is simply unacceptable.  And my hope is that responsible leaders in the Congress, our lawmakers, will speak up and speak out and ensure that that kind of argument doesn't carry the day because it would be a crying shame for this country, the United States of America, to relinquish its role as a leader around the world. 

   I remember when I was Attorney General and we were involved in the passage of the ADA in 1960, that captured attention around the world -- 1990.  I lose a decade every now and then. 

   (Laughter)

   But that captured attention from around the world, and we were besieged with visitors from other countries who came to ask what the components of the ADA were and how they could carry forward this similar activity in their own countries.  And that's ultimately what gave rise to the United Nations Convention, adopted and ratified by well over a hundred separate countries around the world, and that's one of our most valuable exports in this nation's history has been the rule of law and the laws that are designed to guarantee human rights and human liberty. 

   So I think back, as I said, over my lifetime and see what progress has been made, and this is the next best chapter coming up.  If we can get folks mobilized to focus on the good that comes, as has been spelled out by your guests, who come from a wide variety of backgrounds, devoted and committed people whom I am proud to join on this occasion today. 

   But I guess I say you, Joyce, keep up the good work.  You've carried us a long way, you and your counterparts, and I can't help but believe the goodness of the American people is going to shine through and we are going to see this treaty ratified. 

   >> JOYCE BENDER: Well, Governor Thornburgh, as Governor Ridge also said, I mean, it's very clear this is bipartisan, but you served with President Bush, and his commitment to disability has been unparalleled.  And of course, you were the Attorney General that enforced the ADA.  And you know Bob Dole very well.  And I think it's fair to say that from a bipartisan effort, we are all in agreement that this is important and a great thing.  Would you say that? 

   >> DICK THORNBURGH: No question about it.  I was proud to serve under President George H.W. Bush, and I know personally how proud, he regards this as one of the major accomplishments of his administration, and of course, I wouldn't disagree with that.  But it was a great thrill for me to be able to combine my personal agenda of trying to help my own son with severe disabilities make his way in life and to advance a cause that meant so much to me and to my President and seeing the passage of the ADA.  I'll never forget that bright, sunny day in July of 1990, when he signed the ADA on the south lawn of the White House with some 3,000 people, some with disabilities, some with not, but all devoted to protection of human rights and the progress of this country. 

   >> JOYCE BENDER: Yes.  And I just want to say -- and then, Tony, I'm going to ask you to join in here and make some comments before Governor Thornburgh leaves.  I want to say I know Governor Thornburgh and his wife, who I call the First Lady of Pennsylvania, Ginny Thornburgh, very well.  And by the way, Ginny works for the American Association of People with Disabilities.  And I just want all of our listeners to know this couple, I don't know of anyone like them, of their commitment to Americans with disabilities and quality of life and employment, and I just love both of you so much.  And what you've done for all of us, I want you to know on behalf of all Americans with disabilities, that we appreciate that, Governor Thornburgh. 

   And Tony, I know you are in agreement.  Do you want to make any comments while we have him with us? 

   >> TONY COELHO: I sure do. 

   Dick and Ginny Thornburgh, as you indicated, are one of the very strongest couples that we have in the disability community advocating for our opportunities to participate like anybody else in society. 

   I love both of them.  Dick, you've been tremendous in our cause and helping us achieve so many things.  And so it's really an honor to be on this program with you. 

   I think that one of the things that Joyce said is just how much you've done for people with disabilities, but your commitment to American jurisprudence, your commitment to the Constitution, your commitment to making sure that all laws are fair and so forth is unheralded.  It's just you've been a tremendous beacon to so many people in so many different areas, but it's great that you also are a beacon for us. 

   So I just -- Joyce's listeners, Dick Thornburgh has testified for us in so many different occasions, testified for us on the treaty, and is one of the strongest advocates that we've had for all these years.  So Dick, we love you.  We appreciate what you and Ginny do. 

   >> DICK THORNBURGH: Thank you, Tony.  We return that love and respect, and it helps to have an Army of good colleagues in back of you when you are fighting for a cause like this. 

   >> JOYCE BENDER: Before you go, Governor Thornburgh, I have asked everyone, I'll ask you now before you go, what message do you have to our listeners? 

   >> DICK THORNBURGH: That grass-roots support permeates the atmosphere here in Washington so that senators who are called upon to sustain America's leadership role in the disability rights movement can't help but vote to support this important action on the part of the Senate, the Constitution responsibility to ratify treaties, a treaty, by the way, which is a result of activity on the part of George W. Bush as our President and Barack Obama as our President, so that's about as close to bipartisanship as you can get. 

   So get that message out, folks.  Let's not let any kind of distortion of the record or any special interest group hijack such a marvelous advance that will benefit all the people in the world.  600 million people with disabilities around the world are looking to see that the United States continues that role. 

   >> JOYCE BENDER: Well, amen to that.  And listen, Governor Thornburgh, once again, thank you not only for all you do, thank you for your support of CRPD.  And thank you for taking time to join us today. 

   >> DICK THORNBURGH: You bet.  I'm privileged to be with you and look to you again to continue that leadership role that's accomplished so much for our people. 

   >> JOYCE BENDER: Thank you.  Thank you so much.  Lead on.  Lead on! 

   So David, what do you think?  Do you think that if we keep the passion and the pressure out there that we can move this forward? 

   >> DAVID MORRISSEY: I do.  I'm optimistic that we can get this done.  But it is going to require every voice being in the mix.  We have the opportunity for the U.S. to ratify a core human rights treaty that was inspired by the Americans with Disabilities Act that's in the interest of the American disability community, our veterans, and our business sector.  And by bringing those voices together, senators can't ignore us.  We can push this forward. 

   You know, as the year ended, Roll Call Magazine, which watches federal policymaking in Capitol Hill, listed the failure of the U.S. Senate to yet ratify the CRPD as one of the top 25 things that this Congress has so far failed to accomplish.  We can change that by bringing every voice into the mix, by visiting disabilitytreaty.org, by talking about this, not only with your senators, but with your friends and family and bringing them into the mix.  And we have the educational materials on disabilitytreaty.org that can help folks spread the word and certainly take it into social media, where we've seen such an explosion of interest through Facebook and Twitter.  It really is a growing movement, and shows like yours, Joyce, are really helping us spread the word.  But now we need to have the activation as a part of it.

   >> JOYCE BENDER: Yes.  And I just want to say again, disabilitytreaty.org makes it easy to get in touch with who you need to get in touch with. 

   I'm wondering, do you sort of highlight the senators that would be the most important to reach out to? 

   >> DAVID MORRISSEY: We do.  When folks visit our website, you're asked to put in your zip code, and it will give you the contact information not only for your senator but for some very crucial senators.  I'm thinking pointedly of the ranking republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Senator Corker of Tennessee.  He needs to be hearing not only from Tennesseans, but from people who care about this issue around the country, that we look to him for leadership on U.S. engagement on this important treaty issue; that he is being a solution finder in committee to pass a package that answers all the questions and that is one that the full Senate can support. 

   I know we can get there, but we need him as a crucial part of it, and he needs to be hearing from Americans that they want to see him take that leadership role. 

   Tony, would you agree? 

   >> TONY COELHO: I totally agree.  And David, I think Joyce's listeners need to understand that this program has a lot of very distinguished people on it, to Governor Ridge and to Governor Thornburgh.  But we're not going to get it adopted by principals like them being the advocates.  We are going to get it adopted is if people get mad, get involved, get committed, get people to make phone calls.  That's the only way it's going to happen. 

   You know, Tom Ridge and Dick Thornburgh and myself and others can say all we want and call people, but it's not going to happen unless the grass-roots community gets engaged, gets involved, gets mad. 

   Look at what Senator Corker basically said on Christmas Eve, he issued a statement saying that he didn't see how there could be any RUDs that would resolve the issues that he has.  Well, you know what?  If you are really committed to helping people with disabilities, you would work at it.  You would work with Senator Menendez, who is the Chairman of the Committee.  And the two of them, Senator Corker, who is the ranking Republican, and Senator Menendez, the two of them need to work together to come up with these resolutions that solve these issues, these concerns that people have.  That can happen if you're committed to getting something done.  If you are committed to trying to defeat it, then you really don't do it.  But if you are really a leader in your party and a leader in trying to get something done, you can make it happen.  This is easy to do if you want to do it. 

   So what we need by Joyce's listeners and by your friends and your neighbors and people in your organizations is to get mad, is to say this is easy to do if you're committed to those of us with disabilities.  If you're not, say so, so that we can react accordingly.  But don't tell us you're committed to us and then you're unwilling to sit down and work things out.  It can be worked out.  It will be worked out.  We are committed to fighting this all the way.  We are committed to making sure that people throughout the world have an opportunity to participate in their societies like we Americans do in ours, and our people have an opportunity to participate in countries just like anybody else does. 

   Some of our people today can get jobs internationally with these global companies, but because of their disability or because of their spouse's disability or because of one of their child's disability, they can't go because the accommodations aren't there to handle themselves or their family and so forth.  So they cannot take these jobs.  That's disgraceful.  That's disgraceful that we aren't pushing other countries to recognize the disabled in their own country so that it creates opportunity for all of us.  Our servicemen who have given up limbs, have given up part of their life for us as Americans, then don't have the opportunity to go back and to serve their country in other capacities in working for a company or working for the military again.  They can't go back because the accommodations aren't there.  How disgraceful that we are unwilling to make that fight. 

   So we've got to get mad.  We can't just say this is sad.  Okay, let Tom Ridge and Dick Thornburgh and Tony Coelho and Bob Dole.  That is not enough.  We in our community can make this happen if we are committed, if we get mad and say I am unwilling to listen to you say you support us and are unwilling to try to work out what can happen on this treaty.  We need your help. 

   >> DAVID MORRISSEY: Bravo, Tony Coelho. 

   >> JOYCE BENDER: Bravo is right.  You know what I like?  I like this "get mad."  I like this passion.  Because just as Tony said, you know, it's not going to change unless we make this change.  We've got to raise our voice.  And Tony, one other thing.  I know we only have a few minutes left on this show, but something we didn't get to talk about, isn't it true there was a lot of media coverage? 

   >> TONY COELHO: Yes.  What happened was everybody assumed this treaty would go through.  When it didn't go through by only five votes, what happened is some of those committed and then switched because of pressure from a small group of people threatening political retribution and so forth.  And they turned against. 

   As a result of that, the national media just couldn't believe it, and you had all kinds of stories on TV and media, in the press, and so forth, saying this is disgraceful.  We can't believe this has happened. 

   And so it isn't just us in the disability community that need to get engaged.  The media and others need to point out what is wrong.  Why can't you reach a resolution?  This is an easy thing to do if you're committed.  If you're not committed, don't play games with us.  Don't tell us you're for us and then you're not even willing to sit down and work out these understandings in order to resolve whatever the issue is that you have.  You can't have it both ways.  You just cannot have it both ways. 

   >> JOYCE BENDER: Well, I think that says it all, but David, what closing comments would you like to make? 

   >> DAVID MORRISSEY: I think Tony just hit it right on the head.  We have got to get angry.  We have got to get active.  We've got to make those calls to our senators.  And I am imploring everyone on the call to visit disabilitytreaty.org.  Make that call and spread the word to your friends and family. 

   >> JOYCE BENDER: Yeah, and I like what David said about telling everyone, including your friends and family.  We need a roar.  The way you get a lot of people behind this is when you spread the news.  And when go to that website, disabilitytreaty.org, don't forget, don't just think I'm going to talk to my senator.  Do that, but even contact these other senators because we've got to let them know how important this is or we'll be saying shame on you all over again. 

   And by the way, we're not going away.  We are not going away.  We are going to fight this.  If there's one thing Tony Coelho has taught me, it's that you never give up.  And we won't give up. 

   Tony, before we close the show, do you have another message for our listeners? 

   >> TONY COELHO: Well, I just appreciate what David Morrissey and Marca Bristo, as chairman of his board, have done in providing the leadership and the mechanism to bring this treaty forward so that we can get a vote on it to get it accomplished.  David and Marca and all the individuals, Eileen and so many others, at the committee have worked their hearts out, and those of us in the community appreciate Marca's leadership and David's leadership in helping us get this done. 

   So we all appreciate that, but you know what?  That isn't enough.  We can only really appreciate their efforts if those of us in the community get mad and get out and make this happen.  They can provide the direction, they can provide the mechanism to make your voice heard, but they can't be your voice.  You have to be your voice.  You have to make the phone call.  You have to connect.  People in elected office need to know that this is something that's important to you as an individual, not through some lobbyist, not through some person that you know, but you directly, and that is if you have a friend or neighbor or a relative that has a disability, you understand what we're talking about.  Then make the call.  Help us out.  Get people mad.  Get people engaged. 

   This is really a sad day that we can let a minority control what is very strong position on the part of so many people, but because of the Senate rules, you need to have 67 votes, not a majority.  We have a majority.  But we need to get 67 votes to adopt a treaty.  So we are basically five votes short.  Help us.  Help us get those last five votes. 

   >> JOYCE BENDER: Well, there you have it, and I'll tell you what.  Thank you, Tony.  Thank you, David.  But I must end this show with a quote, and this quote, hey, what else can it be other than what Tony said?  Get mad.  This is Joyce Bender, America's voice, where disability matters at voiceamerica.com.  CRPD.  Talk to you next week. 

   >> VoiceAmerica would like to thank you for tuning in.  Please join us next Tuesday at 11 a.m. Pacific Time for another installment of "Disability Matters" right here on the Internet leader in talk radio, voiceamerica.com. 

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This text is being provided in a rough draft format.  Communication Access Realtime Translation (CART) is provided in order to facilitate communication accessibility and may not be a totally verbatim record of the proceedings.

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