Beginning of the End of Don't Ask Don't Tell

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Could House Resolution (HR) 1283 end the “Don't Ask, Don't Tell” (DADT) policy that has discriminated against gays by not allowing them to serve openly in the military? Congressman Patrick Murphy (D-PA) believes that it should and that it will. HR 1283, which is entitled the Military Readiness Enhancement Act of 2009, would replace “the current policy concerning homosexuality in the Armed Forces, referred to as `Don't Ask, Don't Tell', with a policy of nondiscrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.” If passed HR 1283 would repeal “Don't Ask, Don't Tell” (Section 654 of title 10, United States Code), however, it would not “require the furnishing of dependent benefits.”

Congressman Murphy announced Wednesday that he is taking over the lead sponsorship of the bill, which was filed in March by Congresswoman Ellen Tauscher (D-CA). At the press conference, Murphy announced the launch of a nationwide tour “Voices of Honor,” sponsored by the Human Rights Campaign and Servicemembers United

“My time in Iraq taught me that our military needs and deserves the best and the brightest who are willing to serve- and that means all Americans, regardless of their orientation. Discharging brave and talented service members from our armed forces is contrary to the values that our military fights for and that our nation holds dear.”

More Below the Fold…The public supports repealing DADT, and the numbers have steadily increased over the years. In a recent USA Today/Gallup Poll, 69% of those surveyed favored allowing openly gay men and lesbian women to serve in the military. Also, a recent Quinnipiac University Poll reported that 56% of those surveyed believe that the federal law that currently prohibits openly gay men and women from serving in the military should be repealed.

The poll numbers show that not only is the public support strong for a allowing gays and lesbians to openly serve in the military, but that the number of conservatives who support allowing gays to serve has increased more than any other group or demographic. In 2004 only 46% of self identified conservatives polled supported allowing gays to openly serve, however, in 2009 that percentage increased twelve points to 58%. Also, the second largest increase in support of allowing gays to openly serve was among people that attended church on a weekly basis; among regular church goes support increased eleven points from 49% to 60%.

It is not only the general public that supports the change; retired Army general and former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff John M. Shalikashvili wrote a piece for the Washington Post in support the repeal of DADT. General Shalikashvili laid at point by point why those that oppose allow gays and lesbians in the military are wrong, and notes that since DADT over 13,000 service members have been discharged and because of the policy and that more than 40,000 gays and lesbians would join if the policy was repealed.  

Perhaps one of the most disappointed constituencies of President Barack Obama has been the GLBT community, and a specific point of contention has been the “Don't Ask, Don't Tell” policy. Obama made a campaign promise to the GLBT community to repeal DADT, and many have felt that the Administration has not moved fast enough on the issue. At the end of June, Obama met with GLBT community leaders at the White House and told them that he hopes “to be judged not by words, not by promises I've made, but by the promises that my administration keeps.” It was at this even that Lieutenant Colonel Victor Fehrenbach, a decorated Air Force pilot who is being discharged under DADT, told the President that he needed his help. “We're going to get this done,” is the answer that Obama gave Fehrenbach. Perhaps Murphy is just the person to get this done, and give open gay and lesbian people the same opportunity to serve that I had.

Let Them Serve.org

Political and Social Thought…

to the Left of College Station

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  1. Bobby Levinski on

    Fingers crossed…
    Perhaps the stars have finally come into line to get this antiquated and discriminatory policy abolished.

    I know it would be asking for a lot, but my hope would be there would be some language to upgrade those previous discharges under the policy to “honorable”.  Those who were unable to get “honorable” discharges may not be receiving the veterans' benefits to which they should be entitled. (Perhaps there is an underlying assumption in the language I am missing, but from what I can tell…that is absent.)

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