Press Room

February 24, 2005

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GAO Report Shows High Cost, Security Risks of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’

'Anything that compromises our national security costs this country too much,' said HRC Vice President of Policy David M. Smith.

WASHINGTON - The Human Rights Campaign today renewed its call for the repeal of the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy in light of a new report obtained by several newspapers showing that the policy has cost nearly $200 million for the replacement and training of personnel who had to be recruited when gay and lesbian soldiers were ousted from the military. The study also showed that nearly 800 specialists with critical skills have been fired, including 322 linguists, 54 of whom specialized in Arabic.

"Anything that compromises our national security costs this country too much," said HRC Vice President of Policy David M. Smith. "Discharging highly trained, patriotic service members solely for their sexual orientation is bad for security, and bad for the country. Just this week, Great Britain announced it would begin actively recruiting gay and lesbian citizens for their military. Our strongest international allies are putting the security of their nation first. We should too."

The report, conducted by the Government Accountability Office, does not include costs associated with discharging officers or trained, skilled specialists - meaning that the actual cost is likely much higher.

According to the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, more than 10,000 gay and lesbian Americans have been discharged from service under the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy.

"The choice we now face is clear: Spend $191 million on firing patriotic Americans or spend the same amount on a dozen Blackhawk helicopters or 800 sidewinder missiles," said C. Dixon Osburn, executive director of SLDN. "Our priority should always be defense and security. The Military Readiness Enhancement Act is the best proposal to do just that."

Rep. Marty Meehan, D-Mass., ranking Democrat on the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Terrorism, Conventional Threats and Capabilities, has drafted the Military Readiness Enhancement Act, and is expected to introduce the measure next week. The proposal would end the ban on military service based on sexual orientation.

"Given the incredible demand on our nation's armed forces right now, it is simply a matter of common sense that we would encourage every single American to serve if that is their wish," said Smith. "There are continuing stories that the armed forces need more trained soldiers to help maintain security at home and in Iraq. We should let every American serve."

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