Blog of Rights

Military Brass to Offer Views on DADT at Senate Hearing

By Ian S. Thompson, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 10:31am

According to an article in Stars and Stripes, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Joint Chiefs Chairman Mike Mullen will be appearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee later this month to testify about the ramifications of finally repealing the discriminatory and counterproductive policy known as "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" (DADT). DADT has prevented gay and lesbian service members from serving openly and honestly in the armed forces. This will be the first Senate hearing to explore the issue in 17 years.

It has been estimated that there are more than 65,000 LGBT troops who are forced to lie and conceal who they are in order to serve their country. Since DADT first took effect, more than 13,500 men and women have been fired simply because of their sexual orientation. At a time when the U.S. is engaged in two serious conflicts in the world, does it really make any sense to remove otherwise talented and dedicated patriots simply because they love the "wrong" person?

Perhaps we should look to the actions of our closest allies like Australia, Israel, Great Britain and Canada (to name but a few) who all allow gays and lesbians to serve openly in their armed forces. Have they seen the sky fall? Hardly, in fact there have been no adverse impacts on either enrollment or retention rates in these countries. Maybe that is why more than 100 retired admirals and generals support repealing DADT. The time to end this ridiculous policy has definitely come.

The Obama administration has pledged its support for repealing DADT. It is now up to the civilian and uniformed leadership of our military to make the case in front of Congress about why it makes sense from a military readiness and national security perspective to end this discrimination once and for all. I certainly am looking forward to watching their testimony in the coming weeks.

I urge you all to continue to reach out to your members of Congress urging them to support legislation to repeal DADT. Let them know that it is beyond overdue to end the requirement that in order to serve their country, gay and lesbian service members must silently live a lie.

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