August 11, 2009

Momentum Building Toward Repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell"

Here is an essay, posted in its entirey, written by Paul DeMiglio, the Senior Communications Manager for Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, pointing out that the momentum is building to end "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" and encouraging everyone to make the final push toward repeal.

The time to repeal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" is long overdue. Service members are being fired -- almost two per day -- because they are gay or lesbian. So far, 13,000 have been kicked out under DADT.

The experience of Lt. Col. Victor Fehrenbach is a painful reminder of how this law harms qualified patriots and denies LGBT Americans the freedom to serve. A highly decorated, F-15E combat aviator, Fehrenbach has earned nine Air Medals, including one for Heroism, throughout his 18-year career. He was hand-picked to protect the airspace over Washington, D.C. after the Sept. 11 attacks.

Despite his impeccable record of service, Fehrenbach, who is currently on active duty, will likely be losing his career and $3 million in retirement pay.

The country is ready. Public opinion has shifted dramatically in the 16 years since DADT was first signed into law. For the first time, a clear majority of both conservatives and liberals agree that DADT has got to go. A June Gallup poll in fact shows that 69 percent of the American people - including 58 percent of conservatives and 58 percent of churchgoers - believe gays and lesbians should serve openly. DADT is no longer the controversial, hot-button issue it used to be. 2009 is not 1993.

In the military, views on DADT are largely divided along generational lines. Younger service members in their 20s and 30s - the future of military leadership - largely feel comfortable serving alongside their gay and lesbian comrades.

We need to see and hear more from this White House. As a key player in the legislative process, President Obama can help by publicly endorsing HR 1283, the Military Readiness Enhancement Act.

Members of the House of Representatives should cosponsor this bill, now championed by Iraq veteran Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-PA). The bill already has a record number of 168 cosponsors, but we need to reach the magic number of 218 in the coming weeks. For this, we need your help. If you or your friends have not done so, get in touch with your representative to ensure he or she has signed on as a cosponsor.

And it's good news that Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin (D-Mich.) has agreed to a DADT hearing this fall - the first in the Senate in 16 years.

The sense of urgency to repeal DADT is palpable. Let's get this done now.

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