by Charles Lemos, Thu Mar 12, 2009 at 07:19:48 PM EDT
Tomorrow, on the grounds of the US Capitol at noon, the Servicemember's Legal Defense Network is holding a Freedom to Serve rally to help build momentum for the repeal of the failed Clinton-era policy Don't Ask, Don't Tell that bans openly lesbian, gay and bisexual Americans from serving in the military.
It's also worth highlighting the efforts of Congressman Jim Moran, Democrat of Virginia who has requested monthly updates from the Pentagon on the impact of the policy until it is repealed. From the San Francisco Chronicle:
In a statement released on Thursday, Moran said the discharged soldiers included an intelligence collector, a military police officer, four infantry personnel, a health care specialist, a motor-transport operator and a water-treatment specialist.
"How many more good soldiers are we willing to lose due to a bad policy that makes us less safe and secure?" asked Moran, a member of the House panel that oversees military spending.
The Pentagon's "don't ask, don't tell" policy was instituted after President Bill Clinton tried to lift the ban on gay service members in 1993. It refers to the military practice of not asking recruits their sexual orientation. In turn, service members are banned from saying they are gay or bisexual, engaging in homosexual activity or trying to marry a member of the same sex.
The military discharged nearly 10,000 service members under the policy in a 10-year period, from 1997 to 2007. The number fired each year dropped sharply after the 2001 invasion of Afghanistan, when forces were stretched thin. Whereas more than 1,200 were dismissed in 2000 and again in 2001 for violating the policy, about half as many -- 627 -- were fired in 2007.
The Freedom to Serve Rally calls on the Congress to pass the Military Readiness Enhancement Act and repeal the discriminatory policy of "Don't Ask Don't Tell".