Mountain State's Move

Byrd's Senate replacement could be important in DADT debate

Sen. Carte Goodwin (D-W.V.), was sworn in to office by Vice President Joseph Biden on Tuesday, July 20. The former general counsel to West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin (D) until 2009, Goodwin his former boss’s pick for the Senate seat that had been held by the late Sen. Robert Byrd (D) since 1959.

The first new senator from West Virginia since 1985, Goodwin will hold the seat only through the special election to be held to fill the remainder of Byrd’s term. Manchin, who announced the appointment on July 16, also has announced that he will run for the seat himself in November. The Hill newspaper reported that he attended Goodwin’s swearing-in ceremony in the Senate chamber on Tuesday.

Despite Goodwin’s likely short tenure, when compared with Byrd’s lengthy service, it is noteworthy for LGBT organizations pushing for the repeal of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy.

After strongly opposing open gay service when President Clinton pushed for the change in 1993, Byrd supported the amendment voted on in the Senate Armed Services Committee in May to allow the president and military leaders to repeal the statute that underlies DADT.

Adam Smith, a board member of Fairness West Virginia, discussed the appointment with Metro Weekly just before Manchin’s announcement.

“One of Sen. Byrd’s last votes was to repeal ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.’ We’re hopeful, if reports are right that he is the governor’s choice, that Carte Goodwin will follow suit,” Smith said. “Like we continue to do with the other members of the West Virginia congressional delegation, we will follow-up quickly after this appointment to talk with Goodwin and his new Senate staff to make it clear that West Virginia is a state that respects all its citizens, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.”

Goodwin graduated near the top of his class from Emory School of Law in Atlanta and then returned to West Virginia, where he clerked in 1999 and 2000 for U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Robert B. King. He graduated from Marietta College, on the Ohio-West Virginia border, with a bachelor’s degree prior to law school.

Goodwin did not respond to a request from Metro Weekly to discuss his position on DADT repeal or other LGBT issues.

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