Gay, lesbian, and straight service members highlight "Voices of Honor: A Generation Under 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell'"
PHOENIX, AZ - The Human Rights Campaign, the nation's largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization, in partnership with Servicemembers United, the nation's largest organization of gay and lesbian troops and veterans and their straight allies, visited Phoenix, AZ today as part of "Voices of Honor: A Generation Under 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell.'" The national tour highlights the discriminatory law that hurts military readiness and national security while putting American soldiers fighting overseas at risk. To learn more, visit: www.hrc.org/VoicesOfHonor.
"This tour focuses on the voices and stories of the qualified, patriotic gay and lesbian service members who are forced out of the U.S. Armed Services simply because of who they are," said Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese. "Poll after poll continues to show the vast majority of Americans, including the majority of active members of the Armed Services, support the right of gay and lesbian service members to serve openly and honestly. We must repeal this discriminatory policy and ensure that our military can recruit and retain the best and the brightest troops regardless of their sexual orientation."
"'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' is an antiquated holdover from a previous era," said Alex Nicholson, Executive Director of Servicemembers United. "The men and women in the modern military, both gay, lesbian, and straight, are professionals. Servicemembers United and HRC are going on the road with the 'Voices of Honor' tour to show the American public who gay service members really are, and that our fellow troops simply do not care about sexual orientation anymore."
"Patriotism and sacrifice are honorable and admirable qualities that should be valued by us all," said Mayor Phil Gordon of Phoenix. "They are not dependent upon party, race, orientation or anything else. 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' should simply be replaced by 'Thank You for Serving.'"
"Isn't serving our country a sacrifice enough?" said Vice Mayor Tom Simplot of Phoenix. "Our LGBT service members shouldn't have to sacrifice their existence as well."
"'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' clearly isn't working for our military, and it hurts national security and military readiness at a time when America is fighting in two wars in Iraq and Afghanistan," said U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-PA). "My time in Iraq taught me that our military needs the best and the brightest who are willing to serve- and that means all Americans, regardless of their orientation. Discharging brave and talented service members from our armed forces is contrary to the values that our military fights for and that our nation holds dear."
Rep. Murphy, an Iraq War veteran and a former paratrooper in the U.S. Army's elite 82nd Airborne Division, recently took over as the lead sponsor of the Military Readiness Enhancement Act (H.R. 1283), the bill to repeal the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" law. After more than 15 years, many former congressional and senior military leaders who were involved in the construction and implementation of the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" law have recently called for the law to be reviewed or repealed, including former Joint Chiefs Chairmen Gen. John Shalikashvili and Gen. Colin Powell, and former Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Sen. Sam Nunn (D-GA).
Passed in 1993, the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" law allows gay, lesbian and bisexual service personnel to serve in the armed forces as long as their sexual orientation is not publicly disclosed or discovered. As of 2008, more than 13,000 men and women have been fired from the military because of their sexual orientation, including more than 60 Arabic linguists and nearly 800 other service members in critical occupational fields.
"Voices of Honor" features a diverse group of gay, lesbian and straight veterans who have served under the military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy. For veteran profiles, visit: http://www.hrc.org/sites/voicesofhonor/about-vets.asp
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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