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February 02, 2005

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HRC Denounces House Resolution Supporting Discriminatory Military Recruiting Policy

Congress should not be promoting a policy that gives the military the go-ahead to discriminate,' said HRC's Winnie Stachelberg.

WASHINGTON
- The Human Rights Campaign denounced the 327 to 84 House vote in passing a resolution that restates congressional support for the discriminatory Solomon Amendment, which punishes universities with gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender-inclusive non-discrimination policies for holding military recruiters to the same standards as other recruiters.

"Congress should not be promoting a policy that gives the military the go-ahead to discriminate," said HRC Political Director Winnie Stachelberg. "This amendment gives special permission to the military to discriminate when private sector recruiters cannot. The real employment issue in the military has to do with retention, not recruiting. One solution is to allow gay, lesbian and bisexual service members to serve openly in the armed forces."

In November 2004, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that universities that prohibit military recruiting on their campuses should be allowed to receive government funding because they are enforcing the same non-discrimination policies that apply to other employers.

"This resolution seems directed at the universities in court who are merely seeking their right to enforce non-discrimination policies," added Stachelberg. "All available evidence suggests that there are no shortages in recruiting on campus. However, there are shortages of trained and experienced service members. We should reform the military's current discriminatory employment policy known as 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' so that trained service members aren't needlessly discharged."

According to a Dec. 16, 2004, article in The Wall Street Journal, more than 52,000 are now enrolled in Reserve Officers' Training Corps programs, up from 48,000 in 2000. This past year, 70 percent of the Army's newly commissioned officers came from ROTC. In fact, the Defense Department has reported meeting all its recruiting and retention goals in the past several years.

However, department spokespeople have recently underscored the shortage of trained linguists and other specialties. The New Republic reported in January 2005 that between 1998 and 2004, the military discharged 20 Arabic and six Farsi language speakers under the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy.

For personal stories of GLBT veterans who served under discriminatory policies, visit the Documenting Courage website. Documenting Courage is a project of the Human Rights Campaign, Servicemembers Legal Defense Network and American Veterans for Equal Rights in recognition of the contributions of GLBT veterans.

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