Press Room

December 06, 2004

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HRC Lauds Case Seeking Soldiers’ Right to Serve Openly

'Denying these soldiers the right to serve is wrong,' said HRC Political Director Winnie Stachelberg.

WASHINGTON - The Human Rights Campaign lauded 12 soldiers and the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network who filed suit today for the soldiers' right to be reinstated in the U.S. Armed Forces. All were forced to leave the service under the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy, which bans service by openly gay, lesbian and bisexual soldiers.

"Denying these soldiers the right to serve is wrong," said HRC Political Director Winnie Stachelberg. "All have served during the war on terror. All have had their careers cut short because of a discriminatory policy."

Stachelberg continued, "Our nation needs qualified and experienced soldiers. But under 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell,' nearly 10,000 soldiers - including doctors, pilots, linguists and other highly skilled soldiers - have been discharged. We laud these 12 soldiers and the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network for bringing this important case forward."

The suit, Cook v. Rumsfeld, was filed Dec. 6 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts and challenges the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" ban's constitutionality on privacy, due process, equal protection and free speech grounds. According to SLDN's press release, the plaintiffs together have served more than 65 years in the armed forces, including operations in the Middle East, and have earned more than five dozen awards, medals and commendations.

"American soldiers are risking their lives for the freedoms of others while being denied their own," added Stachelberg. "It's time for every soldier to be treated equally."

The Human Rights Campaign is proud to work with SLDN and other groups on behalf of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Americans in the military.

The Human Rights Campaign is the largest national lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender political organization with members throughout the country. It effectively lobbies Congress, provides campaign support and educates the public to ensure that LGBT Americans can be open, honest and safe at home, at work and in the community.

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