Press Room

September 19, 2011

Category: Federal Advocacy

HRC Statement on the End of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”

Discriminatory ban on gays and lesbians in the military officially ends tomorrow

9/19/2011

Washington –Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese issued the following statement on tomorrow’s historic end of the discriminatory “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT) law that has, for the past 17 years, prohibited qualified gay and lesbian Americans from serving in the armed forces.

“Tomorrow is a historic day for gay and lesbian service members and our nation as a whole. ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ was a stain on our nation – not only did it damage our military readiness and national security, but it sent a message that discrimination based upon sexual orientation was acceptable. We know that not to be the case – discrimination accomplishes nothing and tears at the fabric of our country’s strength.

“Beginning tomorrow, gay and lesbian service members previously discharged under DADT will have the opportunity to re-enlist. Gay and lesbian Americans eager to serve the country but not willing to compromise who they are as individuals will, for the first time ever, be able to openly join. And brave men and women currently serving will have the freedom to come out and be honest with their comrades about who they are and who they love.

“Despite this progress, much work remains to ensure full equality in the military. The so-called Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) will prohibit gay and lesbian service members and their spouses from receiving many of the benefits their straight counterparts receive. Limiting regulations also impact areas like military family housing, access to legal services, and spousal relocation support. We also are continuing to deal with an infrastructure ill-prepared to handle incidents of discrimination and harassment against gay and lesbian service members. It is incumbent upon fair-minded legislators to continue pushing equality forward by standing up to discriminatory legislative tactics, pushing for repeal of DOMA, examining barriers to service for qualified and dedicated transgender Americans, and ensuring gay and lesbian military families get the same access to benefits as everyone else.

“This was a hard-fought victory, and supporters of equality should feel proud. But we cannot lose sight of the challenges that remain – from passing the Employment Non-Discrimination Act to bar employment discrimination in every workplace, to bringing an end to DOMA through the Respect for Marriage Act, and to combatting anti-gay activities and rhetoric from political leaders and hate groups. This is indeed a historic moment, but we remain focused on the work ahead.”

The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. By inspiring and engaging all Americans, HRC strives to end discrimination against LGBT citizens and realize a nation that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all.

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