Monday, March 2, 2009

DADT Repeal Bill Refiled

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Observer Update) - Legislation to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” the ban on Gays serving openly in the military was filed Monday (Mar. 2) in the House of Representatives.

The last attempt to void the Clinton-era law died at the end of the last Congress. The new attempt was filed by Rep. Ellen O. Tauscher, a California Democrat.

The Military Enhancement Readiness Act (MREA) repeals the ban, replacing it with new provisions prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation in the Armed Forces.

“This law has failed our country and our military for 15 years,” Tauscher told an afternoon news conference. “It harms military readiness and discriminates against patriotic young men and women who want to serve their country. It’s time for Congress to right this wrong.”

Sen. Ted Kennedy (D) has reportedly been working on a Senate version of the bill to be filed this year, but wants a Republican to cosponsor it.

President Barack Obama has said that he supports repeal of the ban. The White House has called for a study that could take up to a year to determine the effect of allowing Gays to serve.

While previous attempts to repeal the law were bogged down when Republicans controlled Congress, there is renewed hope the measure will pass with the Democrats now in control of both houses.

“Rep. Tauscher’s bill will significantly improve our military readiness by allowing highly qualified linguists, medics, and intelligence analysts to serve openly in the armed forces,” said Aubrey Sarvis, executive director of the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN).

In January the American Psychoanalytic Association called for repeal of the law. A long list of retired generals and admirals also support repeal - including two former chairmen of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, John Shalikashvili and Colin Powell. Even former Sen. Sam Nunn, the Georgia Democrat who sponsored DADT now says it is time to abolish the ban.

A 1993 study by the RAND corporation as well as two official military studies: a 1989 study by the Defense Personnel Security Research Center and the Navy’s 1957 Crittenden report support allowing Gays to serve.

Since DADT was enacted more than 12,000 servicemembers have been dismissed when it was learned they are Gay. According to statistics from the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network which advocates for Gays in the military an average of two service members are dismissed under the law every day. In addition an estimated 3,000 men and women each year choose not to enlist or re-enlist because of the law.

On March 13 SLDN members will be on Capitol Hill to lobby members of Congress to repeal the ban.

Previously Tauscher has supported the Matthew Shepherd Hate Crimes Act and an inclusive ENDA. She is currently serving her seventh term in Congress representing a suburban San Francisco district.

In the 110th Congress, Tauscher was appointed Chairman of the Strategic Forces Subcommittee, becoming only the third woman in history to Chair an Armed Services Subcommittee. Tauscher is also the first California Democrat to be elevated to an Armed Services Subcommittee Chairmanship since 1992.

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