WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization, on Wednesday lauded the introduction of the Military Readiness Enhancement Act of 2010 in the U.S. Senate.
The bill, sponsored by U.S. Senator Joseph Lieberman (I-CT), would repeal the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT) law, which prohibits lesbians and gays from serving openly in the U.S. Armed Forces. Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-PA), an Iraq War veteran and a former paratrooper in the U.S. Army's elite 82nd Airborne Division, is the lead sponsor of similar legislation in the U.S House of Representatives.
“By introducing the first bill to repeal ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ in the Senate, Senator Lieberman is continuing the momentum to repeal ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ this year,” said Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese. “His introduction of the Military Readiness Enhancement Act of 2010 is a bold, patriotic move that will long be remembered as key to removing the stain of the discriminatory ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ law from the U.S. code. Over the last few weeks, military leaders have made it clear that repeal of the failed ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ law must happen. As a senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee and an expert on national security, Senator Lieberman’s leadership in the fight to repeal ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ is critical to achieving repeal this year.”
Military leaders, including Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Michael Mullen, recognize that DADT is a failed law and support its repeal. Former Vice President and Defense Secretary Dick Cheney also recently came out for repeal by stating, “When the chiefs come forward and say, ‘We think we can do it,’ then it strikes me as it’s time to reconsider the policy, and I think Adm. Mullen said that.” Moreover, former supports of the law, such as General Colin Powell, former Chairmen of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and General John M. Shalikashvili, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, have all indicated their support for repealing DADT as well.
The vast majority of Americans – including majorities of Republicans, Independents and Democrats – support repealing the DADT. Americans recognize that on the battlefield, it does not matter whether a soldier is lesbian, gay or straight; what matters is that a soldier gets the job done. This discriminatory law hurts military readiness and national security while putting American soldiers fighting overseas at risk.
Last week, HRC launched a national action alert and announced details of its ongoing campaign to repeal DADT. To focus on key states where congressional support for repeal is critical, HRC has dispatched field staff to six states – Florida, Indiana, Massachusetts, Nebraska, Virginia and West Virginia, with other states to follow in the months ahead. HRC is also asking members and supporters to sign up and to join the growing network of supporters to repeal DADT. To learn more visit: www.hrc.org/RepealDADT.
Prior to this, HRC has spent years laying the groundwork for repeal of DADT through programs like the “Voices of Honor” and “Legacy of Service” tours, which organized in key states to highlight the costs of DADT and promote the voices of gay and straight veterans who support repeal. These efforts began in 2005 when HRC and Servicemembers United launched the first of three national tours to share the stories of service members who have been harmed by DADT. From Philadelphia to Phoenix, from Kansas City to San Diego, the tours made stops nationwide, driving local and national media attention, including coverage by the military itself.
In addition, HRC submitted testimony and prepared witnesses in 2008 for the first congressional hearing to review the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" law since it was enacted in 2003. Furthermore, in 2007, to commemorate the 14th anniversary of DADT, HRC displayed 12,000 flags on the National Mall to recognize the 12,000 women and men discharged from the military since the enactment of DADT.
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