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WASHINGTON – The repeal of the discriminatory military policy of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” has been fully certified today by Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Michael Mullen and President Barack Obama. The certification officially states that the military has completed its review of the repeal and can confirm that the armed forces’ implementation of the repeal and the transition to open service will not affect unit cohesion or readiness. Lesbian, gay and bisexual troops can begin serving openly 60 days from today’s certification. In addition, those who wish to enlist and join the armed forces will no longer need to lie about their sexual orientation in order to do so.
“The days of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ are quite literally numbered. Very soon, gay and lesbian service members will be able to serve their country openly, honestly and with the dignity they deserve and for far too long were denied,” said Laura W. Murphy, director of the American Civil Liberties Union Washington Legislative Office. “While this policy’s repeal is a huge step forward, statutes that discriminate against LGBT Americans and their families remain intact. The demise of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ demonstrates that we should not write discrimination into our laws. Now is the time for Congress to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act.”
The ACLU will continue to seek justice for service members who were discharged under the policy but denied the full separation pay granted to other honorably discharged veterans. Department of Defense policy states that anyone honorably discharged for “homosexuality” is entitled to only half the separation pay given to other honorably discharged service members to ease their transition to civilian life.
“‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ has been a discriminatory distraction for far too long, and we welcome its repeal once and for all,” said James D. Esseks, director of the ACLU’s LGBT Project. “But significant as this is, the Department of Defense still has serious work to do in terms of implementing the repeal. For example, DoD is still cheating service members who were kicked out under ‘Don’t Ask Don’t Tell’ of full separation pay – DoD regulations give honorably discharged gay soldiers only half separation pay, despite their having served as long as their straight colleagues did. That’s hardly fair.”