Forum followup: resources for repealing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell

Our forum this week discussed Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT), which prohibits openly gay, lesbian or bisexual people from serving in the Armed Forces. (Our transgendered friends and family are covered by other policies.)

It’s important to remember that DADT does not prohibit LGB folks from serving. It prohibits them from being honest about who they are. It is estimated that about 60,000 gay people are at this moment serving in silence, forced to lie about their lives and loves. They cannot list their same-sex partner as their next of kin. They can’t talk about their families. They can’t get health coverage for their children with a same sex partner. Their families at home aren’t covered by the military support structure. If they are discovered and discharged, they aren’t even paid the same separation pay.

Over 14,000 have been discharged since DADT was passed in 1993. Increasingly, the courts see no justification for these discharges, no evidence for harm.

The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff , Admiral Mike Mullen, favors repeal.

Over 70% of serving military see no problem with repeal.

Over 70% of the American public overall favors repeal.

Over 26 countries allow openly gay people to serve including the United Kingdom, Canada, Denmark, and Israel, with no problems.

Amazingly, however, despite this popular support for repeal, and absence of any evidence of harm, DADT repeal (part of the Defense Appropriations bill) is a political football in the US Senate and is opposed by the Republicans.

In California, our Senators support repeal. Other states’ senators may not. Please encourage your friends and family in other states to call their Senators and ask them to allow open service by LGBT servicemembers.

More resources:

  • The Servicemembers Legal Defense Network
  • Knights Out, a West Point gay-straight alliance
  • The Palm Center for studies of LGBT people in the military
  • Prop8 Trial Tracker

You can see the video of the forum here.

Photo: Tombstone of Air Force Sergeant Leonard Matlovich, who fought his dismissal in the 1970s and became one of the earliest activists for open service. He lies in the Congressional Cemetery in Washington DC.

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