Senator Feinstein Co-Sponsors Legislation to End Military's "Don't Ask, Don't" Tell Ban on Service by Gays and Lesbians
U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) today co-sponsored legislation that would repeal the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy banning military service by gays and lesbians and prohibit discrimination in the military based on sexual orientation.
"The time has come to repeal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell.' It is the right thing to do. Every American should have the opportunity to serve their country, regardless of race, sex, creed, or sexual orientation," Senator Feinstein said.
"The criteria for serving one's country should be competence, courage and willingness to serve. When we deny people the chance to serve because of their sexual orientation, we deprive them of their rights of citizenship, and we deprive our armed forces the service of willing and capable Americans."
The "Military Readiness Enhancement Act of 2010" was introduced today by Senator Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.). Senator Feinstein is among 14 co-sponsors. The bill would specifically do the following:
* Prohibit the U.S. armed forces from discriminating based on sexual orientation.
* Repeal the military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy, enacted in 1993.
* Create a federal statute preventing discrimination against current and prospective members of the armed forces based on sexual orientation.
* Direct the Pentagon Working Group, established by the Secretary of Defense and led by military leaders, to conduct a thorough study and recommend regulations to implement repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell."
* Require the Secretary of Defense to report to Congress within 180 days of the bill's enactment on what actions have been taken to deny federal funds to any university that prevents establishment of an ROTC unit on campus.
Since 1993, roughly 13,000 U.S. service members have been discharged from the military under the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy. The Government Accountability Office estimates it has cost taxpayers more than $200 million to recruit and train replacements.
Repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" is supported by Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; Defense Secretary Robert Gates; Navy Secretary Ray Mabus; and retired Secretary of State and former Joint Chiefs Chairman Colin Powell.
According to the University of California, 25 countries have policies allowing gays to serve openly in their militaries, including 15 NATO countries, Australia and Israel.