With Vote Near, Pressure to End Military Gay Ban Grows
Pressure continues to mount for the repeal of "Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell." More than a dozen retired military top brass sent a letter to Congress and the White House urging the repeal of the military’s ban on openly gay and lesbian troops, a May 24 Servicemembers Legal Defense Network press release said.
Rep. Patrick Murphy hailed the letter on May 24, saying, "I applaud the willingness these leaders have shown to stand up for what’s right for our country, and I second their call to put an end to this policy." Murphy, formerly a captain with the 82nd Airborne Division, was the first Iraq veteran to be elected to the House of Representatives. He added, "To remove honorable, talented and patriotic troops from serving contradicts the American values our military fights for and our nation holds dear."
"To Members of Congress and the White House," read the letter, signed by Col. Grethe Cammermeyer and 14 others. "In the following days, Congress will have the opportunity to overturn the discriminatory and misguided policy known as ’Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.’ We urge all Members of Congress to vote to end this policy which harms our national security and hurts our military readiness.
"Since the policy was implemented over a decade ago we have discharged more than 13,500 brave men and woman willing to take a bullet for their country, simply because they are gay or lesbian," the letter continued. "Among those discharged have been fighter pilots, infantry officers, Arabic translators and other specialists whose services are vital to our military’s current operations. To us, it makes little sense to stop-loss one soldier while forcing out another capable, trained warrior willing to serve.
"According to a May 10th Gallup poll, over 70% of Americans think this policy should be overturned," noted the authors of the letter. "As former military leaders, we hardly need opinion polls to know that the men and women we served with are ready to make this change. Our military has a proud legacy of breaking down barriers to equality in America.
"The time has come be true to our shared American values and let our troops serve openly, without fear of discrimination or reprisal. It is the right decision for our national security and our military. As Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen stated, ’It comes down to integrity--theirs as individuals and ours as an institution.’ Furthermore, Secretary Robert Gates has stated ’the question before us is not whether the military prepares to make this change but how we must.’ We agree.
"Secretary Gates has been directed by President Obama to conduct a review of this policy that will be completed on December 1st of 2010," the letter recounted. "We want to be clear: this review is focused on ’how’ the military should implement repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, not ’if’ it should. Whether this policy will be repealed this year is a question that can only be left to our Commander in Chief and to our elected representatives in Congress to decide. Just as Don’t Ask, Don’t tell was passed into law by Congress a generation ago, repeal this year is in Congress’ hands as well.
"We call on Congress to act now and we strongly encourage President Obama to signal his support for repeal of this misguided policy now."
A similar letter was hand delivered on May 24 to Sen. Jim Webb, Democrat of Virginia, a Human Rights Campaign release said. Twenty female military veterans from Webb’s own state signed the letter. "The letter comes as advocates have been working to muster the 15 critical votes needed on the Senate Armed Services Committee to include DADT repeal as an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2011," read the HRC release.