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Volume 35
Issue 09
 
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CONGRESSMAN MARTY MEEHAN RE-INTRODUCES HOUSE LEGISLATION TO REPEAL 'DON'T ASK, DON'T TELL'
CONGRESSMAN MARTY MEEHAN RE-INTRODUCES HOUSE LEGISLATION TO REPEAL 'DON'T ASK, DON'T TELL'
New Data Shows Loss of Critical Personnel Under Gay Ban

WASHINGTON, DC - Congressman Marty Meehan (D-MA), chair of the House Armed Services Sub-Committee on Oversight and Investigations, today will re-introduce legislation to repeal the military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" ban on lesbian, gay, and bisexual military personnel. The Military Readiness Enhancement Act is supported by 110 original co-sponsors and Congressman Meehan. Three Republican lawmakers - Rep. Wayne Gilchrest (R-MD), Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) and Rep. Christopher Shays (R-CT) - are among the co-sponsors.

"Given our military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, the recruiting woes our armed forces face, and the quality of troops being dismissed under the law, Congressman Meehan's legislation is more important than ever," said C. Dixon Osburn, executive director of Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN). "When the armed forces fire nearly five dozen Arabic translators, our security is diminished. When doctors and nurses are removed from duty, the well-being of those who depend on medical personnel for help is threatened. And when intelligence officers are booted only because of their sexual orientation, our country is less safe. There is no excuse for sacrificing security in the name of discrimination."

SLDN released data today showing that, in FY 2005, the military dismissed 49 medical personnel, 40 law enforcement officers and 14 intelligence officers. The Army dismissed 35 infantrymen in 2005, as well as seven nuclear, biological and chemical warfare specialists. The Navy discharged 17 air crewmen under "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" during the same year. A total of 742 service members were dismissed in 2005; the total since the law's implementation in 1993 is more than 11,000. On average, the armed forces fire 2 -3 service members under the law each day.

Public opinions polls have found overwhelming support among the public for repealing "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." A 2006 Zogby Poll, commissioned by the Michael D. Palm Center, also found that nearly 4 out of 5 service members report they feel comfortable around gays and lesbians. Marine Sergeant Brian Fricke, who came out to his fellow Marines while serving in Iraq noted that, when he did so, "there was never any difference in the way we interacted with each other," he says. "We still accomplished our missions."

"There are at least 65,000 lesbian and gay service members on duty today," said Osburn. "Another 1 million lesbian and gay veterans have served our nation proudly. Congressman Meehan's legislation pays tribute to their service by honoring their sacrifice and welcoming them into our armed forces."

For more information on The Military Readiness Enhancement Act, visit www.sldn.org.

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Servicemembers Legal Defense Network is a national, non-profit legal services, watchdog and policy organization dedicated to ending discrimination against and harassment of military personnel affected by 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' and related forms of intolerance. For more information, visit www.sldn.org.

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