Fate of Lesbian & Gay Service Members in President's Hands

by HRC Staff

President Must Stop Legal Defense of DADT and Issue Stop-Loss Order

Washington - Today the Human Rights Campaign, the nation's largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender civil rights organization, called on President Obama to end the legal defense of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" and to halt discharges of lesbian, gay and bisexual service members in the wake of news that the Senate will not finish the job on legislative repeal. As HRC President Joe Solmonese outlined in an October letter, the Administration should call "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" what it is - an unconstitutional and discriminatory law that hurts our national security - and cease its legal defense of the statute. Separately, the President needs to immediately use his powers as Commander in Chief to issue a stop-loss order halting discharges.

"The Senate's apparent refusal to act on 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' repeal makes Presidential action imperative in order for him to fulfill his state of the union promise," said HRC President Joe Solmonese. "The only measure of success is an end to the discharges and anything less is unacceptable."

Under his powers to ensure national security following the September 11 attacks, the President has the ability to issue stop-loss orders preventing certain service members from discharge. Pending an enduring solution to this unjust and discriminatory law, the President can and should suspend DADT-related discharges under the stop-loss provision.

"In this time of war, we cannot sustain a policy that has already deprived our military of thousands of service members, many with critical skills in fighting terrorism," said Solmonese.

The "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" law has also been embroiled in seemingly endless legal wrangling with the administration defending the law's constitutionality in court. HRC once again encourages the President to abandon that defense. Should the administration decide to proceed, the President can at least instruct government lawyers to inform the appellate court that the Executive Branch believes "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" to be unconstitutional.

"Every day that 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' is in force, Americans are losing out on the best and brightest service members defending our country," added Solmonese. "If Congress won't act, it's up to the President to clean up the mess they made when they enacted this discriminatory and unconstitutional law nearly two decades ago."

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.

Contact Us

To make a general inquiry, please visit our contact page. Members of the media can reach our press office at: (202) 572-8968 or email press@hrc.org.