HRC Lauds Case Seeking Soldiers' Right To Serve Openly

On December 6th, The Human Rights Campaign lauded twelve soldiers and the
Servicemembers Legal Defense Network who filed suit for the
soldiers' right to be reinstated in the U.S. Armed Forces. All were
forced to leave the service under the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy,
which bans service by openly gay, lesbian and bisexual soldiers.

"Denying these soldiers the right to serve is wrong," said HRC Political
Director Winnie Stachelberg. "All have served during the war on terror.
All have had their careers cut short because of a discriminatory policy.

Stachelberg continued, "Our nation needs qualified and experienced
soldiers. But under 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell,' nearly 10,000 soldiers –
including doctors, pilots, linguists and other highly skilled soldiers –
have been discharged. We laud these 12 soldiers and the Servicemembers
Legal Defense Network for bringing this important case forward."

The suit, Cook v. Rumsfeld, was filed Dec. 6 in the U.S. District Court
for the District of Massachusetts and challenges the "Don't Ask, Don't
Tell" ban's constitutionality on privacy, Due Process, Equal Protection
and free speech grounds. According to SLDN's press release, the
plaintiffs together have served more than 65 years in the armed forces,
including operations in the Middle East, and have earned more than five
dozen awards, medals and commendations.

"American soldiers are risking their lives for the freedoms of others
while being denied their own," added Stachelberg. "It's time for every
soldier to be treated equally."

The Human Rights Campaign is proud to work with Servicemembers Legal
Defense Network and other groups on behalf of gay, lesbian, bisexual and
transgender Americans in the military.

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