Senator Gillibrand Tirelessly Working to Repeal DADT
by Charles Lemos, Mon Jul 27, 2009 at 08:40:55 PM EDT
If at first you don't succeed, try, try, try again must be freshman Senator Kirsten Gillibrand's motto. Though the New York Senator failed to rally enough co-sponsors for a temporary suspension of the Don't Ask Don't Tell ban that prevents gays and lesbians from serving openly in the US Military, Senator Gillibrand has secured the commitment of Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Senator Carl Levin of Michigan to hold hearings on the ban when Congress returns in the Fall. Talk about having an impact and not taking no for an answer.
From the Senator's press release:
U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand is announcing that the Senate Armed Services Committee is agreeing to hold a Senate hearing on the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" (DADT) policy in the Armed Forces this fall. According to a report from the Center for American Progress released last month, since President Barack Obama took office, 265 men and women have been dismissed from the Armed Forces because of the DADT policy.
"This policy is wrong for our national security and wrong for the moral foundation upon which our country was founded,'" Senator Gillibrand said. "I thank Chairman Levin for agreeing to hold this important hearing. Numerous military leaders are telling us that the times have changed. `Don't Ask, Don't Tell' is an unfair, outdated measure that violates the civil rights of some of our bravest, most heroic men and women. By repealing this policy, we will increase America's strength - both militarily and morally."
Nearly 13,000 service members have been discharged for their sexual orientation since 1993, when the policy was first instituted. The Government Accountability Office estimates that the policy cost the Armed Forces approximately $95.4 million in recruiting costs and $95.1 million for training replacements for the 9,488 troops that were discharged from 1994 through 2003.
According to a Gallup Poll from May of this year, 69 percent of Americans favor military service by openly gay men and lesbians.
More than 100 retired U.S. military leaders - including the former head of the Naval Academy -signed on to a statement last November calling for an end to DADT policy.
Last month, Senator Gillibrand met with Lt. Dan Choi, a constituent, who was dismissed from the Armed Forces because of the DADT policy. Senator Gillibrand pledged to work with him to repair the damage that has been done to his career and spare thousands of innocent, brave men and women from the same injustice.
Senator Gillibrand is a tireless advocate of progressive causes and showing true leadership on this and other issues (did you read her call for a public option?). And she's getting results. As a measure of her success, it should be noted that these hearings will be the first official review of the DADT policy since Congress passed the law in 1993.