New Study Shows Tangible Harm of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”

The Human Rights Campaign – the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender civil rights organization – reiterated its call on the United States Senate to repeal the failed “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law in the wake of a new study released by the Palm Center showing DADT discharges in 2009 included: 8 linguists, 20 infantrymen, 16 medical aides, 7 combat engineers, 6 missile artillery operating crew members, and one member of the Special Forces. The study also shows women and minorities have been disproportionately discharged under DADT.

“This study is further proof that not only is the ban on lesbian and gay service members discriminatory, but it undermines national security,” said HRC President Joe Solmonese. “War time is the wrong time to fire men and women in uniform whose skills are critical to successfully completing our mission. When the Senate returns from recess, repeal of this failed law must be their first priority.”

According to the Palm Center report, nearly 800 mission critical troops have been discharged under DADT since 1993, including over 300 linguists. Discharge of linguists affects far more than the individual service member. Entire units fighting on foreign soil are left without interpreters, which could prove deadly in conflict.

The U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate Armed Services Committee both voted to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” in May. The full Senate is expected to take up the National Defense Authorization Act, to which repeal of DADT is attached, when they return in September. DADT was signed into law in 1993 as an amendment to that year’s NDAA.

In partnership with Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN), HRC launched the Countdown 2010 Grassroots Campaign to increase support and to press for passage of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal in the U.S. Senate as well as passage of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) in the U.S. House. This nationwide campaign is mobilizing grassroots supporters of equality across the country through in-district meetings as well as a call-in and email campaign. HRC and SLDN’s efforts specifically focus on 10 states with key lawmakers whose votes on DADT repeal are critical: Arkansas, Indiana, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, and Virginia.

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