Washington - Today a broad coalition of military women from Virginia submitted an open letter to Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va.). The letter, hand delivered today, calls on Webb to support legislation this year to overturn the discriminatory "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" law. The letter comes as advocates have been working to muster the 15 critical votes needed on the Senate Armed Services Committee to include DADT repeal as an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2011.
The Honorable James Webb
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510
Dear Senator Webb:
We are military women who believe in having the strongest military possible. It is for that reason that we write to urge you to support the repeal of the discriminatory "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" law this year. For the sake of all of our men and women in uniform, the time for repeal is now.
Though we come from different backgrounds, we are all Virginians, we all served, and many of us studied at our nation's service academies. But our common thread as women reminds us of the challenges we faced during the debate to allow our service in combat roles. Before that many of the same arguments were made against allowing African Americans to serve. Otherwise reasonable people believed that denying these groups of patriotic Americans the right to serve was in the best interest of the military. Now, we hear the very same arguments against allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly. Those arguments are as unfounded and misguided today as they were generations ago.
There is no evidence that allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly will harm unit cohesion, just as there was no evidence that allowing women and minorities to serve would do so. To the contrary, we have seen from our own experiences that it is dishonesty that hurts unit cohesion - not the sexual orientation of our brothers- and sisters-in-arms. Poll after poll shows that the attitudes of today's service members have changed and they care more about whether their fellow service members do their jobs, not if they happen to be gay or lesbian. Further, the American public is with them - 75 percent support repealing DADT and allowing gays and lesbians to serve with integrity, openly and honestly.
We are counting on you, Senator Webb, to stand on the right side of history. Stand on the side of integrity and support legislation to repeal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" this year.
Brenda Bailey, USN
Cami Lewis, USA
Newport News, VA
CDR Claudia McKnight, USCG (Ret.)
PFC Cynthia Mitchell, USA
CPT Deborah McKay, USN (Ret.)
SSG Genevieve Chase, USAR
1LT Heather Lamb, USAF
CW4 Janet Worsham, USAR (Ret.)
CPT Joan Darrah, USN (Ret.)
SSG Kayla Williams, USA, 98G AD
CMSgt. Kelly Egan, USAF
LT Kelly Matteson, USN (Ret.)
Newport News, VA
PFC M. J. Flanagan, USMC
MAJ Marjorie Rudinsky, USA (Ret.)
PVT Marty Porter, USMC
Virginia Beach, VA
CPT Megan Scanlon, USA
PVT Rebecca Smith, ANG
SSG Robin Davis, USAF
PFC Stephanie Marushia, USA (Ret.)
Virginia Beach, VA
CDR Susan Sharp, USN (Ret.)
Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (www.sldn.org) is a national, non-profit legal services and policy organization dedicated to ending "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." A journalists' guide is available here.
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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