HRC Announces Comprehensive Campaign to End “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”
January 27, 2010
In response to the President’s pledge in this evening’s State of the Union address to work with Congress and the military towards repeal of the failed “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law, the Human Rights Campaign announced an expanded “Voices of Honor” campaign that will organize veterans across the country, generate media coverage and build focused campaigns in key states that will be critical to the final votes in the House and Senate. The campaign will expand on HRC's field and legislative efforts through: an on-the-ground campaign manager in key states to build diverse local coalitions; public education through innovative media campaigns; activating grassroots contacts with Members of Congress; an online hub for action on repeal; and partnering with other key groups working on repeal including Center for American Progress, Servicemembers United and Servicemembers Legal Defense Network. As part of this effort, tonight we launched a nationwide action alert to encourage Members of Congress to cosponsor the Military Readiness Enhancement Act. TAKE ACTION NOW! Said HRC President Joe Solmonese:
“The Commander in Chief sent a clear message tonight that in a time of war, what matters is that our men and women get the job done – not whether they’re gay or straight. Our ‘Voices of Honor’ campaign will bring about much needed action to end this law that the vast majority of Americans oppose. Our country simply cannot afford this discriminatory law that hurts military readiness by denying patriotic men and women the opportunity to serve. Ridding our laws of discrimination that weakens our national security will require continued leadership from the President as well as Congressional allies.”
More than 13,000 Americans have been denied the ability to serve – including more than 800 specialists with vital skills like Arabic linguists. The Military Readiness Enhancement Act, championed by Iraq War veteran Rep. Patrick Murphy, D-Penn., would replace the failed Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell law with open service by qualified lesbian and gay servicemembers, ensuring that the military will no longer need to sacrifice those whose service it cannot afford to lose. Tonight the President also pointed out the successful passage last year of a strong hate crimes bill and linked that effort and Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell repeal to our common values. Solmonese added: “We look forward to working with the President and Congress to advance an equality agenda on these and a range of other issues.” HRC has been laying the groundwork for repeal through programs like the “Voices of Honor” tour and “Legacy of Service,” which organized in key states to highlight the costs of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and promote the voices of gay and straight veterans who support repeal. More information is at www.hrc.org/VoicesOfHonor. A Washington Post/ABC News poll conducted in July 2008 found that 75% of Americans believe openly lesbian and gay citizens should be able to serve in the U.S. military. Additionally, veterans – especially younger veterans – are increasingly comfortable serving alongside gay troops. A December 2006 Zogby poll of soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan found that 73% of soldiers reported being “comfortable … in the presence of gays,” and only 37% opposed repealing the DADT policy. Furthermore, the July 2008 Washington Post/ABC poll found that 50% of all veterans supported open service by lesbians and gays.