Maine Coalition Calls on Senators Collins and Snowe to Cast Deciding Votes in Don't Ask, Don't Tell Repeal
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Today, ten Maine organizations called on Senators Collins and Snowe to support a repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and to lift the military facilities abortion ban. The groups include American Association of University of Women – Maine, EqualityMaine, Family Planning Association of Maine, Greater Bangor National Organization for Women, Mabel Wadsworth Women’s Health Center, Maine Civil Liberties Union, Maine Women’s Lobby, Mainely Girls, the Religious Coalition Against Discrimination and Women, Work and Community.
“Congress now has the historic opportunity to overturn both policies,” reads the letter sent to the Senators offices. “We therefore urge you to oppose any effort to strip language repealing either ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ or the ban on privately-funded abortions on military bases from the NDAA.”
Senators Collins and Snowe declined to vote for cloture on the National Defense Authorization Act early in the fall, citing the need to wait for the Pentagon report on Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. The Pentagon report, released Tuesday, found that 70 percent of service members said they would be able to “work together to get the job done” with a gay service member in their immediate unit.
“Senators Collins and Snowe have an historic opportunity to cast the deciding votes to end discrimination in the military,” said MCLU Executive Director Shenna Bellows. “Our military men and women, who risk their lives to protect our Constitutional freedoms, should not be denied their own rights under the Constitution.”
In 1993, Congress passed, as an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 1994, a requirement that the military discharge any service members found to be gay or lesbian. In 1995, Congress passed, as an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 1996, a ban on privately funded abortions at military hospitals.
More than 365,000 women currently serve in the Armed Forces. A 2003 study  found that 30 percent of female U.S. military veterans report having been raped or suffered a rape attempt during their military service, and military officials report that there were 2,374 cases of sexual assault  among service members reported to military criminal investigators in 2005 – a 40 percent increase from 2004. Yet, women cannot pay for their own abortions at military-run facilities.
Under the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy, since 1994, more than 14,000 qualified and committed service members, including hundreds deemed “mission critical,” have been fired by the military simply on the basis of their sexual orientation.
 “UI, VAC Researchers Study Women’s Risks of Rape in Military” The University of Iowa News Service. Available at: www.news-releases.uiowa.edu/2003/march/031103military-rape.html
 “Executive Summary” Defense.gov. Available at: www.defense.gov/news/Mar2006/d20060316SexualAssaultReport.pdf
Every month, you'll receive regular roundups of the most important civil rights and civil liberties developments. Remember: a well-informed citizenry is the best defense against tyranny.