It’s been two months to the day since Representative Marty Meehan pledged to reintroduce the ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ debate in Congress. What perfect timing, then, for him to make good on his promise. To mark the military minded event, Servicemembers Legal Defense Network executive director C. Dixon Osburn had this to say:
Given our military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, the recruiting woes our armed forces face, and the quality of troops being dismissed under the law, Congressman Meehan’s legislation is more important than ever… When intelligence officers are booted only because of their sexual orientation, our country is less safe. There is no excuse for sacrificing security in the name of discrimination.
Too true, Osburn, especially considering SDLN’s new data revealing that 742 servicemembers were dismissed in 2005 alone.
Public opinion polls show that the majority of Americans want to see the archaic law repealed, while 4 out of 5 soldiers feel comfortable working with queers. Despite these findings, one can’t help but wonder whether or not Air Force Captain Devery L. Taylor’s rape conviction will put a damper on things.
We’ve included the entire SLDN release after the jump. You know, just in case you care, which you probably should…
(Update: You should roll on over to Towleroad to read Andy’s piece on Eric Alva – a freshly out Iraq War veteran.)
ongressman Marty Meehan Re-Introduces House Legislation to Repeal ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’
New Data Shows Loss of Critical Personnel Under Gay Ban
WASHINGTON, Feb. 28 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Congressman Marty Meehan (D-MA), chair of the House Armed Services Sub-Committee on Oversight and Investigations, today will re-introduce legislation to repeal the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” ban on lesbian, gay and bisexual military personnel. The Military Readiness Enhancement Act is supported by 110 original co-sponsors and Congressman Meehan. Three Republican lawmakers — Rep. Wayne Gilchrest (R-MD), Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) and Rep. Christopher Shays (R-CT) — are among the co-sponsors.
“Given our military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, the recruiting woes our armed forces face, and the quality of troops being dismissed under the law, Congressman Meehan’s legislation is more important than ever,” said C. Dixon Osburn, executive director of Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN). “When the armed forces fire nearly five dozen Arabic translators, our security is diminished. When doctors and nurses are removed from duty, the well-being of those who depend on medical personnel for help is threatened. And when intelligence officers are booted only because of their sexual orientation, our country is less safe. There is no excuse for sacrificing security in the name of discrimination.”
SLDN released data today showing that, in FY 2005, the military dismissed 49 medical personnel, 40 law enforcement officers and 14 intelligence officers. The Army dismissed 35 infantrymen in 2005, as well as seven nuclear, biological and chemical warfare specialists. The Navy discharged 17 air crewmen under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” during the same year. A total of 742 service members were dismissed in 2005; the total since the law’s implementation in 1993 is more than 11,000. On average, the armed forces fire 2-3 service members under the law each day.
Public opinions polls have found overwhelming support among the public for repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” A 2006 Zogby Poll, commissioned by the Michael D. Palm Center, also found that nearly 4 out of 5 service members report they feel comfortable around gays and lesbians. Marine Sergeant Brian Fricke, who came out to his fellow Marines while serving in Iraq noted that, when he did so, “there was never any difference in the way we interacted with each other,” he says. “We still accomplished our missions.”
“There are at least 65,000 lesbian and gay service members on duty today,” said Osburn. “Another 1 million lesbian and gay veterans have served our nation proudly. Congressman Meehan’s legislation pays tribute to their service by honoring their sacrifice and welcoming them into our armed forces.”