Civil rights organizations are urging Congress to move more quickly toward repealing the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT) policy in the wake of a federal judge’s ruling that the policy is unconstitutional.
“We’re pleased by the judge’s decision, but this decision is likely to be appealed and will linger for years,” Aubrey Sarvis, an Army veteran and executive director of the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network. “Congress made the DADT law 17 years ago and Congress should repeal it. The Senate will have the opportunity to do just that this month and most Americans think the Senate should seize it.”
The policy, which requires lesbian and gay servicemembers to conceal their sexual orientation or face expulsion from the military, has long been opposed by civil and human rights organizations as being discriminatory and counterproductive, depriving the military of access to individuals committed to defending our country. Public support for allowing openly gay and lesbian servicemembers to serve in the military has grown, from 44 percent in 1993 when the policy was enacted to 75 percent in 2009.
Repeal efforts picked up steam this year when President Obama called for repeal in his State of the Union address in January. In February, Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Michael Mullen, announced the creation of a working group to evaluate how to implement a full repeal.
On May 27, the House of Representatives and the Senate Armed Services Committee both passed similar legislation that would repeal the policy 60 days after the working groups report is completed, which is expected to be on December 1. The legislation is awaiting a full Senate vote.
“This federal court affirmed what the vast majority of the American people know to be true – that it’s time for the discriminatory ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ law to be sent to the dustbin of history,” said Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese. “With House passage already secured, the Senate can and should vote in the next few weeks to repeal ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ and allow every qualified man and woman the chance to serve with honor.”