11.18.10

Leahy Pushes For Repeal Of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ In Lame Duck Session

WASHINGTON (Thursday, Nov. 18) – U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and more than a dozen other senators are pressing fellow senators to repeal the controversial “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy as part of the annual Defense Authorization Bill.  Opponents of repeal are blocking action on the entire defense bill over the issue.

Following are Leahy’s remarks from a news conference Thursday on Capitol Hill:

Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.)

Remarks At News Conference
In Support Of Repealing ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ Policy

Thursday, November 18, 2010

I hope the Senate will soon turn to debating legislation to support the brave members of the U.S. armed forces.  We in Congress should be doing all we can to encourage military service, and to retain the service of the talented individuals who are fighting every day to keep us safe.

More than a decade ago, Congress put the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy in place.  This discriminatory policy has prevented many people from serving their country and has injected discrimination into personnel decisions.  It is a divisive policy that has not served our military, or our country, well.  It should be repealed.

The irony of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell is that it does not prevent gays and lesbians from serving in the military -- it only excludes gays and lesbians who refuse to hide their identity.  The policy forces good and capable people to choose between compromising their integrity and being barred from military service.  Of course, these are also the people who handle our national security information and who swear to protect and defend the Constitution.  It is unfair to ask those who volunteer for military service to be honest in every aspect of their lives but one.

Today, gay and lesbian service members serve honorably but do not enjoy equality in the military or once they resume civilian life.  It is high time that we recognize Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell for what it is and dispense with the discriminatory law once and for all.  It is a systemic, corrosive charade that helps no one and hurts many.  And it is wrong.

Every member of our armed services should be judged solely on his or her contribution to the mission.  Repealing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell will ensure that we are true to the principles upon which this country was founded.  We ask our troops to protect freedom around the globe.  It is time to protect their basic freedoms and equal rights here at home.

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