Over 300 Veterans to Lobby Congress Next Week on Repealing DADT This Year

by HRC Staff

Gay, lesbian and straight veterans unite to demand repeal despite attempts to delay.

Washington - With just one week until National Veterans Lobby Day on "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" - sponsored by Servicemembers United and the Human Rights Campaign on May 10th and 11th - more than 300 gay and lesbian veterans and their straight veteran allies from across the country have already registered to come to Washington, DC to tell Congress to repeal the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" law this year. This is expected to be the largest lobbying event on "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" to date. The announcement comes on the heels of last week's letter from Defense Secretary Robert Gates urging Congress not to move forward on repeal until the Pentagon Working Group's implementation study has been completed.

"Such a large number of veterans all coming to Washington, D.C. together at this critical time should send a strong message to Congress and even to the President that we fully expect this law to be repealed this year," said Alexander Nicholson, Executive Director of Servicemembers United and a former U.S. Army interrogator who was discharged under "Don't Ask, Don't Tell.""We have laid out a path to repeal for this year that very much respects the Pentagon's position on this issue. There is simply no excuse for further delay."

"There is no reason Congress cannot move forward on repeal this year with a timeline that respects the Pentagon review process," said HRC President Joe Solmonese. "This group of distinguished lesbian, gay and straight veterans are the perfect messengers to tell Congress that the country needs repeal this year."

Nearly 14,000 servicemembers have been discharged under "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" since its inception in 1994, including nearly 1000 mission critical specialists such as Arabic linguists. DADT hurts military readiness and national security while putting American soldiers fighting overseas at risk. At a time when our military is fighting two wars, qualified servicemembers who are willing to serve their country should not be discharged based on their sexual orientation.

The Veterans Lobby Day on DADT, a project of Servicemembers United and the Human Rights Campaign, in partnership with a broad coalition of other pro-military and pro-equality organizations, will take place immediately before the National Defense Authorization Act - the bill that should contain DADT repeal language - is debated on Capitol Hill.

More information on the day is available at www.VeteransLobbyDay.org.

Servicemembers United, a non-profit and non-partisan organization, is the nation's largest organization of gay and lesbian troops and veterans and their allies. Based in Washington, DC, Servicemembers United actively engages in education, advocacy, and lobbying on issues affecting the gay military, veteran, and defense community.

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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