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Beilenson Called Ally of Disabled

June 05, 1988

We read with interest and considerable dismay your recent article on Val Marmillion's campaign against Congressman Tony Beilenson in the Democratic primary in the 23rd Congressional District.

The dismay was caused by the implication that Mr. Marmillion is supported by a coalition of persons with disabilities and that Congressman Beilenson has not been sensitive to disability issues.

As longtime activists in the disability rights movement, we have worked closely with Tony Beilenson and his staff for many years. We have found Tony to be more than sensitive; he is, in every respect, a fighter for our rights. Congressman Beilenson is a co-sponsor of the "Americans with Disabilities Act of 1988"; he was in the forefront of the struggle for passage of the Civil Rights Restoration Act; he worked with us to initiate and implement the removal of work disincentives for persons on SSI and continues that effort as it applies to SSDI.

In 1986, Beilenson played a key role in our efforts to open the UCLA campus to persons with disabilities by personally contacting Chancellor Charles Young, and in 1987 he supported our unsuccessful attempts to get a qualified person with a disability appointed to head Mayor Bradley's Office for the Disabled. Ten years before that, it was Tony Beilenson who opened his office in the Federal Building to disability rights activists staging a sit-in (to demand implementation of regulations enforcing Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973) at the office of the Department of Health, Education and Welfare (since retitled Health and Human Services), so that they could have access to water and bathroom facilities and telephones.

Tony Beilenson has always responded to our needs, to our questions, to our demands for equality and accessibility. To suggest that he has done otherwise is a disservice to your readers and to all the voters in the 23rd Congressional District.

If there is a disability coalition supporting a candidate in the 23rd Congressional District, it is one made up of those of us who support and endorse Tony Beilenson. We speak not only for ourselves, but for many disability organizations and individuals. We thank Tony Beilenson for his support by giving him ours.

HUGH J. HALLENBERG

DOUGLAS MARTIN

JYNNY RETZINGER

SAM OVERTON

JANE SMALL

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