Gillibrand Pushing to End 'Don't Ask' Policy

Monday, 27 Jul 2009 02:25 PM

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A key U.S. Senate committee will convene a hearing on the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" law that forbids gays to serve openly in the military, a lawmaker announced Monday.

Senate Armed Services Committee chairman Carl Levin has agreed to have such a session this fall, Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, a foe of the policy, said without specifying the date.

At least 265 men and women had been discharged under the policy since President Barack Obama took office in January, according to a left-of-center Washington think tank.

"This policy is wrong for our national security and wrong for the moral foundation upon which our country was founded," said Gillibrand, whose home state is New York.

"'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' is an unfair, outdated measure that violates the civil rights of some of our bravest, most heroic men and women. By repealing this policy, we will increase America's strength — both militarily and morally," she said.

Obama has drawn fire for not taking steps to freeze or repeal the rule, saying that Congress is the best venue for undoing the policy, which was crafted in 1993.

About 13,000 service members have been discharged under the policy, and estimated costs through 2003 run at $95.4 million in recruiting costs and $95.1 million in training replacements, according to the Government Accountability Office.

An overwhelming number of Americans support letting openly gay men and lesbians serve in the military.

The policy requires gays to keep quiet about their sexual orientation or face expulsion.

Copyright AFP 2008, AFP stories and photos shall not be published, broadcast, rewritten for broadcast or publication or redistributed directly or indirectly in any medium

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