Washington - Today our military readiness and national security were set back as Senator John McCain successfully led a Republican filibuster of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), to which the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" is attached. Not since 1948 has Congress failed to act on the NDAA. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has committed to bringing the bill back up following the election.
"This filibuster was election year politics at its worst," said Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese. "It's a shame that during a time of war, Republican Senators wouldn't even allow debate on the bill that provides a pay raise for our troops."
In its continuing efforts to end the ban on lesbian, gay and bisexual service members, HRC today released a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder calling on him not to appeal a recent court decision ruling DADT unconstitutional. The case was brought by the Log Cabin Republicans. Additionally, HRC called on its members and supporters to petition Holder to decline to appeal the case.
"We still have a fighting chance to repeal DADT through Congressional action but in the meantime, the best interests of our men and women in uniform - as well as the country - are served by doing everything we can do to get rid of this discriminatory law," added Solmonese. "We expect the Justice Department to recognize the overwhelming evidence that proves DADT is unconstitutional."
Nearly 80 percent of Americans support repealing DADT according to a recent CNN poll. President Obama and military leadership, including Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Mike Mullen also support repeal. Under the language in the NDAA, implementation of repeal would not occur until after the completion of the Pentagon Working Group study due December 1 of this year and upon certification.
Text of Letter to Attorney General Holder from the Human Rights Campaign:
September 21, 2010
Dear Attorney General Holder:
On behalf of the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), I respectfully write to request that the Department of Justice (DOJ) refrain from appealing the federal district court decision in Log Cabin Republicans v. United States, which declares the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" (DADT) law unconstitutional based on the U.S. Constitution's guarantees of due process and free speech.
After gathering significant evidence, including testimony by six discharged service members and seven expert witnesses, the decision states that DADT does not further the government's interest in military readiness or unit cohesion. In addition, the decision acknowledges that the military is discharging qualified service members, including those with skills critical for the military's success, during a time of troop shortages. Since the DADT law was passed in 1993, over 14,000 service members have been discharged because of DADT, nearly 1,000 of whom were specialists with vital mission critical skills. This discriminatory law hurts military readiness and our national security while putting American service members fighting overseas at risk.
While enactment of DADT was originally based on the mistaken premise that openly lesbian and gay service members would weaken our national security by hurting military readiness and unit cohesion, the President has acknowledged that this premise is false. On June 29, 2009, President Obama declared, "reversing this policy [is] the right thing to do [and] is essential for national security." In addition to the President's acknowledgement that repealing DADT is "essential for national security," the Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff have also recognized that the discriminatory DADT law should be repealed. The leaders of our nation's armed forces understand that DADT serves no purpose in the laws of our nation it is time for the DOJ to stop defending this law.
We understand that the DOJ is currently evaluating whether to appeal this decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. The facts presented in the case add to the ever-growing list of evidence illustrating that Congress lacked even a rational basis for enacting DADT. Based on the mounting evidence, we urge the DOJ to refrain from appealing the case to the Ninth Circuit.
This decision affirms what the vast majority of the American people know to be true - that it's time for DADT to be sent to the dustbin of history. We appreciate the Administration's support of the legislative efforts to repeal DADT, but we expect the DOJ to recognize the overwhelming evidence that proves DADT is unconstitutional. Thank you for your attention this matter. We look forward to a day when DADT no longer exists in our nation's laws.
Joe Solmonese, President
Human Rights Campaign
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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