New "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" Regulations called "Positive Step" Toward Repeal

by HRC Staff

"Two branches of government can and should work concurrently toward repeal," said HRC President Joe Solmonese

WASHINGTON, D.C. - The Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation's largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization, called the Department of Defense's new "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" regulations "a positive step on the road to repeal this year." The new regulations released by Defense Secretary Robert Gates will raise the bar for investigations and discharges under "Don't Ask, Don't Tell".

"These new regulations are a positive step toward repeal of the discriminatory 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' law this year," said Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese. "Congress must continue to move forward with legislative action to repeal the law this year while the Pentagon continues its work to determine how to best implement that repeal. Two branches of government can and should work concurrently toward repeal. There is no reason for Congress to wait for the details on implementation when Secretary Gates and the President have made it clear that this law should be repealed."

The new regulations will raise the level of the commander authorized to initiate a discharge investigation, revise the threshold for credible information and third-party allegations, and protect disclosure to medical and psychological personnel and for other non-military purposes.

"Our community is doing the hard work of lobbying members of Congress and making sure the grassroots pressure is on for repeal," continued Solmonese. "With health insurance reform passed and a successful conclusion reached, now is the time for more visible and aggressive leadership from the White House to push for a vote this year."

Military leaders, including Secretary Gates and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Michael Mullen, recognize that DADT is a failed law and support its repeal. Before the Senate Armed Services Committee last month, Secretary Gates announced, "the question before us is not whether the military prepares to make this change, but how we best prepare for it." In addition at that hearing, Adm. Mullen testified that "allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly would be the right thing to do."

HRC launched the Repeal DADT Now campaign that is mobilizing veterans, their families and average Americans in targeted states, and have an extensive field team on the ground in six. In the past year, our members and supporters have completed over 190,000 phone calls and emails to members of Congress, submitted 1,200 letters to editors, and arranged 250 in-district lobby visits to change our laws. Early this month, 275 HRC members from around the country traveled to Capitol Hill to lobby for repeal.

Rep. Murphy (D-PA), an Iraq War veteran and a former paratrooper in the U.S. Army's elite 82nd Airborne Division, is the lead sponsor of the Military Readiness Enhancement Act (H.R. 1283), the House bill to repeal the DADT law. Senator Joe Lieberman (I-CT) is the lead sponsor of similar legislation in the Senate (S. 3065). More than 13,500 Americans have been discharged under the law - including more than 800 specialists with vital skills like Arabic linguists.

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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