July 23, 2014, Paralyzed Veterans of America (Paralyzed Veterans) joined former Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole, U.S. Senators John McCain, Tom Harkin, Kelly Ayotte, and Mark Kirk, along with representatives from other major veterans service organizations to support the ratification of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Treaty (CRPD).
At a press conference on July 23, Associate Executive Director of Veterans Benefits Sherman Gillums Jr., stated the following on behalf of Paralyzed Veterans of America: “Paralyzed Veterans of America is proud to join with Senator Bob Dole, Senator John McCain, and other leading veterans service organizations in calling for immediate ratification of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
The ratification of this treaty represents the next logical step in the effort to ensure a disabled U.S. citizen can marry a loved one at a destination anywhere in Europe or study abroad anywhere in South America, and not have to worry about whether a set of steps, inaccessible transportation, or social attitudes will define the limits of full participation. These freedoms are not luxuries; they are fundamental for every mobility-impaired senior citizen, college student, child with special needs, blinded or paralyzed veteran who wants the same access to the world as everyone else. No longer should we let irrelevancies stand in the way of opening this long-overdue access.”
The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, a treaty modeled after the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), is an agreement by more than 150 countries to “ensure and promote the full realization of all human rights and fundamental freedoms for all persons with disabilities without discrimination of any kind on the basis of disability.”
Despite bipartisan support in the Senate, ratification of the treaty failed late last year on a 61-38 vote, with 67 votes needed for ratification. The Senate will again take up the treaty as part of the 113th Congressional session, but not until after the Senate Foreign Relations Committee holds a hearing on it.
Gillums went on to state: “This treaty is simply the global application of the Americans with Disabilities Act, which has well served our society for over two decades. If America does not embrace this opportunity to show the world that people of all walks deserve a right to the barrier-free pursuit of happiness, then we would fall far short of our potential as a values-driven, global role model. Our nation’s veterans have fought for the rights and freedoms that all Americans enjoy. Some are doing so in Afghanistan and other parts of the world at this very moment. Some will survive a life-altering injury and directly benefit from this effort. We have given life and limb to ensure that the sovereignty of our nation is protected above all else. Ratifying this treaty will not endanger that sovereignty — rather, it would strengthen it — by helping to create a world idealized around our American values and the principle of promoting a world without limits for all people, including those who may be broken in body but not in the desire to live free. Members of the Senate: we urge you to ratify the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities without further delay.”
Paralyzed Veterans is encouraging the public to sign the petition in support of the CRPD, and to continue to contact their Senators’ offices to urge them to vote to ratify the treaty.
Learn more about Paralyzed Veterans of America's efforts on behalf of all people with disabilities