DADT Repeal Amendment Passes in Senate Armed Services Committee

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After 17-Year Battle, Milestone Called "Historic First Step Forward"

This initial victory today in the Senate Armed Services Committee is an historic first step forward in the drive to finally get the onerous 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' law off the books forever.

Servicemembers United, the nation's largest organization of gay and lesbian troops and veterans, today proudly commended the passage of the amendment before the Senate Armed Services Committee to repeal the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" law. The amendment, which was offered by Senator Joseph Lieberman (I-CT) and strongly supported by Chairman Carl Levin (D-MI), passed by a vote of 16 - 12.

"This initial victory today in the Senate Armed Services Committee is an historic first step forward in the drive to finally get the onerous 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' law off the books forever," said Alexander Nicholson, Executive Director of Servicemembers United and a former U.S. Army interrogator who was discharged under "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." "All of us who have served under 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' and who have been impacted by this law will remember this day as the beginning of the end for 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell.'"

The amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2011 would repeal 10 U.S.C. 654, the basis of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell,' after the completion of the Pentagon's Comprehensive Review Working Group study and after a certification is made by the President, the Secretary of Defense, and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff that the study's recommendations for an implementation management plan are sufficient.

Nicholson added, "We are especially grateful to the courageous members on the Senate Armed Services Committee who took a principled stand and voted for this amendment, which fully respects the ongoing study, the Pentagon leadership, and the men and women of the U.S. military. We would especially like to express our sincere appreciation for the tireless efforts of Senator Levin, Senator Lieberman, Senator Udall, and Senator Gillibrand and their staff in working to secure the support to make this first victory a reality today."

The "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" law, passed in 1993 as part of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 1994, has resulted in the abrupt firing of more than 14,000 men and women because of their sexual orientation, and has led tens of thousands more to voluntarily terminate their careers because of the burden of serving under this outdated law. There are an estimated 66,000 gays, lesbians, and bisexuals currently serving in the U.S. military and an estimated 1 million gay, lesbian, and bisexual veterans of the U.S. armed forces.

For more information about Servicemembers United, please visit http://www.servicemembersunited.org . For the latest information on discharge numbers, polling, statistics, studies, and other archival and reference information related to the 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' issue, please visit http://www.dadtarchive.org .

Servicemembers United, a non-profit and non-partisan organization, is the nation's largest organization of gay and lesbian troops and veterans and their allies. Based in Washington, DC, Servicemembers United actively engages in education, advocacy, and lobbying on issues affecting the gay military, veteran, and defense community.

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Clint King
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