The Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN) commended the Democratic National Convention Platform Committee on Aug. 10 for its recommendation of an end to the âDonât Ask, Donât Tellâ law that forbids service by open lesbians, gays, and bisexuals in the U.S. armed forces. SLDN Executive Director Aubrey Sarvis said, âSLDN is pleased the DNC platform committee calls for the repeal of âDonât Ask, Donât Tellâ and firmly advocates that all who are qualified be allowed to serve in the military without regard to their sexual orientation.â Sarvis added, âThis is a bold and historic moment for all those who must serve in silence today and for all who believe in equality.â
The Platform Committee adopted draft language calling for repeal of âDonât Ask, Donât Tellâ that in part reads, âAt a time when the military is having a tough time recruiting and retaining troops, it is wrong to deny our country the service of brave, qualified people. We support the repeal of âDonât Ask Donât Tellâ and the implementation of policies to allow qualified men and women to serve openly regardless of sexual orientation.â
The draft language approved by the Platform Committee will be voted on by the delegates to the Democratic National Convention in Denver later this month.
âSLDN is grateful for the leadership of Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin, Chair of the DNC Platform Drafting Committee, in working with us,â said Sarvis. âHer efforts have elevated âDonât Ask, Donât Tellâ to a more visible position within the Democratic Party. We will seek similar support within the Republican Party.â
Since 1993, more than 12,500 service personnel have been discharged under âDonât Ask, Donât Tell,â including more than 800 âmission criticalâ troops, according to a 2005 Government Accountability Office report.
âThis begins an important national conversation on the national security impact of losing qualified, capable service members for no other reason than their sexual orientation,â said Aubrey Sarvis, the executive director of the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network. âThe existing âDonât Ask, Donât Tellâ law not only hurts military readiness when our troops are stretched too thin; it also discriminates against patriotic Americans who want to serve when they are needed most.â 143 members of the House of Representatives have seen the problem and co-sponsored HR 1246 to repeal the ban and ensure non-discrimination within the armed forces. For several years now, queers have been serving openly with honor in the military of 24 developed nations, including Australia, Israel, Great Britain, and Canada.
âEvery year thousands of qualified, patriotic gay and lesbian service members are forced out of the U.S. Armed Services simply because of who they are,â said Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese. âThe vast majority of Americans, including the majority of service members, support the right of gay and lesbian service members to serve openly and honestly.â He added, âWe must repeal this discriminatory policy and ensure that our military can recruit and retain the best and the brightest troops regardless of their sexual orientation.â
âWe urge the immediate repeal of the discriminatory âDonât Ask, Donât Tellâ policy that has resulted in the expulsion of thousands of loyal American women and men from the U.S. Armed Forces,â said Rea Carey, executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Action Fund. She noted that since 1993, lesbian, gay, and bisexual service members have steadfastly pledged to defend the Constitution even while forced into silence about who they are and who they love. âThat they are ejected from the military when their sexual orientation is discovered is a disservice to them and their families, and a disgrace to our country,â said Carey.
âThis categorical rejection of our countryâs brave and trustworthy Americans and the continued squandering of their contributions must end,â said Log Cabin Republicans President Patrick Sammon. He said DADT weakens national security by preventing qualified men and women from serving their country. âThere is growing Republican support for repealing this law,â said Sammon. âLog Cabin Republicans is committed to gaining additional GOP support for repeal.â
âWhenever an American returns home from war, patriotism should command each of us to thank them for their service,â said Jon Hoadley, executive director of the Stonewall Democrats. He said the testimony that Stonewall Democrats has supplied the U.S. House Armed Services Committee recognizes both the urgent need for military readiness and the sacrifice of all Americans who chose to serve. âSome politicians prefer to support the outdated agendas of special interest groups rather than the current sacrifice of our service members. That is one reason why, as Democrats, we are campaigning for change at this crucial point in our national history,â continued Hoadley.
âHonoring those who wear the uniform requires us to elect public servants who will honor their sacrifice as well,â said Jody M. Huckaby, executive director of Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG). ââDonât Ask, Donât Tellâ denies our families and loved ones critical rights and protections that no American - let alone those who serve in our armed forces - should be denied.â Huckaby noted that under the law, parents have been questioned about their children; troops are barred from being part of civil laws recognizing their relationships; and the children of same-sex military couples are left behind by the militaryâs benefits system.
Servicemembers Legal Defense Network is a national, non-profit legal services, watchdog, and policy organization dedicated to ending discrimination against and harassment of military personnel affected by âDonât Ask, Donât Tellâ and related forms of intolerance.