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Grassroots Activists Gather to Repeal 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell'
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Grassroots Activists Gather to Repeal 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell'

U.S. Rep. PatrickMurphy, HRC, alongside lesbian, gay, and straight service members, demandrepeal

  WASHINGTON, D.C. - The HumanRights Campaign (HRC), the nation's largest lesbian, gay, bisexual andtransgender (LGBT) civil rights organization, U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-PA),alongside lesbian, gay and straight veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars,held a press conference today in coordination with a swell of average Americansfighting for repealof "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" (DADT).  The event is timed withHRC's annual spring Lobby Day where more than 300 members and supporters areexpected to participate.

  "One of the worst things that you can hear when you arelobbying is that 'no one in my district is gay and no one in my district wantsme to vote for this.' We know that's not true of any district but we have toprove it," said Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese, while speakingto more than 300 average American's demanding repeal today on the Hill. "We come with the most powerful message of all:  I am your constituent,and your constituents, like the rest of America, have had enough of 'Don'tAsk, Don't Tell.'"

  This week, U.S. Senator Joseph Lieberman (I-CT) introducedthe Military Readiness Enhancement Act of 2010 in the U.S. Senate.  Thebill would repeal the military's DADT law, which prohibits lesbians and gaysfrom serving openly in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Rep. Patrick Murphy, anIraq War veteran and a former paratrooper in the U.S. Army's elite 82ndAirborne Division, is the lead sponsor of similar legislation in the U.S Houseof Representatives.

  Military leaders, including Secretary of Defense RobertGates and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Michael Mullen, recognizethat DADT is a failed law and support its repeal.  Former Vice Presidentand Defense Secretary Dick Cheney also recently came out for repeal by stating,"When the chiefs come forward and say, 'We think we can do it,' then it strikesme as it's time to reconsider the policy, and I think Adm. Mullen saidthat."  Moreover, former supports of the law, such as General ColinPowell, former Chairmen of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and General John M.Shalikashvili, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, have all indicatedtheir support for repealing DADT as well.

  The vast majority of Americans - including majorities ofRepublicans, Independents and Democrats - support repealing DADT. Americans recognize that on the battlefield, it does not matter whether asoldier is lesbian, gay or straight; what matters is that a soldier gets thejob done.  This discriminatory law hurts military readiness and nationalsecurity while putting American soldiers fighting overseas at risk. 

  HRC recently launched a national action alert and announceddetails of its ongoing campaign to repeal DADT.  To focus on key stateswhere congressional support for repeal is critical, HRC has dispatched fieldstaff to six states - Florida, Indiana, Massachusetts, Nebraska, Virginia and West Virginia, withother states to follow in the months ahead.  HRC is also asking membersand supporters to sign up and to join the growing network of supporters torepeal DADT.  To learn more visit: www.hrc.org/RepealDADT.

  Prior to this, HRC has spent years laying the groundwork forrepeal of DADT through programs like the "Voices of Honor" and "Legacy ofService" tours, which organized in key states to highlight the costs of DADTand promote the voices of gay and straight veterans who support repeal. These efforts began in 2005 when HRC and Servicemembers United launched thefirst of three national tours to share the stories of service members who havebeen harmed by DADT.  From Philadelphia to Phoenix, from Kansas Cityto San Diego,the tours made stops nationwide, driving local and national media attention,including coverage by the military itself.  

  Furthermore, in 2007, to commemorate the 14th anniversary ofDADT, HRC displayed 12,000 flags on the National Mall to recognize the 12,000women and men discharged from the military since the enactment of DADT. 

   The Human Rights Campaign is America's largest civil rightsorganization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgenderequality. By inspiring and engaging all Americans, HRC strives to enddiscrimination against LGBT citizens and realize a nation that achievesfundamental fairness and equality for all.

www.hrc.org/RepealDADT

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