Veterans Day: President Should Honor All Troops Equally

by HRC Staff

'Americans don't care whether the person who catches Osama Bin Laden is gay or straight, we just want him caught,' said Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese.

WASHINGTON - On Veterans Day, Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese released the following letter honoring the lives of millions of veterans, including gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgenderAmericans, who have served and continue to serve their country.

November 11, 2005

President George W. Bush
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, D.C. 20500

Dear President Bush:

On this Veterans Day, Americans honor the brave men and women who have fought to protect our freedom. But a largely uncounted and silent group of veterans wonders whether they will ever be honored. Under the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy, an estimated 65,000 gay Americans are serving today and an estimated 1 million have served in the past. None have received the honor they deserve.

On this Veterans Day, the Human Rights Campaign is working with our coalition partners in the fight for equality and to honor all veterans who have served this country honorably, including gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender troops. Indeed, gay troops have been a part of every major war and continue to serve in silence under the discriminatory "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" ban.

It's time for the ban to be lifted. Discrimination has no place in America's military. Allowing these highly qualified troops to serve would protect national security, strengthen our military and save millions of dollars and hours that could be put to better use.

Americans don't care whether the person who catches Osama Bin Laden is gay or straight, we just want him caught.

Military readiness is enhanced when every qualified American who wants to serve is allowed to do so. More than 10,000 gay troops have already been discharged under "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." Our Armed Forces are already stretched thin and facing serious problems in recruiting and retaining troops. It makes no sense to continue upholding a policy that keeps able-bodied Americans from serving.

Many of our closest allies involved in the war against terror already allow gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender soldiers to serve openly in their militaries. American soldiers are currently serving overseas with openly gay soldiers from countries such as Great Britain, Israel and Australia.

According to the GAO report, the enforcement of the ban policy has cost a minimum of $191 million - which doesn't even include costs associated with discharging officers or other highly skilled specialists. That is money that could be spent on armor for our tanks and troops.

It's time to give all veterans the honor and respect they deserve. It's time to lift the ban.


Joe Solmonese
President, Human Rights Campaign

The Human Rights Campaign is the largest national lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender political organization with members throughout the country.It effectively lobbies Congress, provides campaign support and educates the public to ensure that LGBT Americans can be open, honest and safe at home, at work and in the community.

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