by David Herszenhorn | New York Times
The House on Friday adopted an annual Pentagon policy bill that includes a provision allowing the Defense Department to repeal the ban on gay and bisexual people from serving openly in the military.
As Americans, it is our birthright that all people are created equal and deserve the same rights, privileges, and opportunities. Since our earliest days of independence, our Nation has striven to fulfill that promise. An important chapter in our great, unfinished story is the movement for fairness and equality on behalf of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community. This month, as we recognize the immeasurable contributions of LGBT Americans, we renew our commitment to the struggle for equal rights for LGBT Americans and to ending prejudice and injustice wherever it exists.
LGBT Americans have enriched and strengthened the fabric of our national life. From business leaders and professors to athletes and first responders, LGBT individuals have achieved success and prominence in every discipline. They are our mothers and fathers, our sons and daughters, and our friends and neighbors. Across my Administration, openly LGBT employees are serving at every level. Thanks to those who came before us the brave men and women who marched, stood up to injustice, and brought change through acts of compassion or defiance we have made enormous progress and continue to strive for a more perfect union.
My Administration has advanced our journey by signing into law the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr., Hate Crimes Prevention Act, which strengthens Federal protections against crimes based on gender identity or sexual orientation. We renewed the Ryan White CARE Act, which provides life saving medical services and support to Americans living with HIV/AIDS, and finally eliminated the HIV entry ban. I also signed a Presidential Memorandum directing hospitals receiving Medicare and Medicaid funds to give LGBT patients the compassion and security they deserve in their time of need, including the ability to choose someone other than an immediate family member to visit them and make medical decisions.
In other areas, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced a series of proposals to ensure core housing programs are open to everyone, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. HUD also announced the first ever national study of discrimination against members of the LGBT community in the rental and sale of housing. Additionally, the Department of Health and Human Services has created a National Resource Center for LGBT Elders.
Much work remains to fulfill our Nation’s promise of equal justice under law for LGBT Americans. That is why we must give committed gay couples the same rights and responsibilities afforded to any married couple, and repeal the Defense of Marriage Act. We must protect the rights of LGBT families by securing their adoption rights, ending employment discrimination against LGBT Americans, and ensuring Federal employees receive equal benefits. We must create safer schools so all our children may learn in a supportive environment. I am also committed to ending “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” so patriotic LGBT Americans can serve openly in our military, and I am working with the Congress and our military leadership to accomplish that goal.
As we honor the LGBT Americans who have given so much to our Nation, let us remember that if one of us is unable to realize full equality, we all fall short of our founding principles. Our Nation draws its strength from our diversity, with each of us contributing to the greater whole. By affirming these rights and values, each American benefits from the further advancement of liberty and justice for all.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim June 2010 as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month. I call upon all Americans to observe this month by fighting prejudice and discrimination in their own lives and everywhere it exists.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twenty-eighth day of May, in the year of our Lord two thousand ten, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-fourth.
“I have long advocated that we repeal ‘Don’t Ask Don’t Tell’, and I am pleased that both the House of Representatives and the Senate Armed Services Committee took important bipartisan steps toward repeal tonight. Key to successful repeal will be the ongoing Defense Department review, and as such I am grateful that the amendments offered by Representative Patrick Murphy and Senators Joseph Lieberman and Carl Levin that passed today will ensure that the Department of Defense can complete that comprehensive review that will allow our military and their families the opportunity to inform and shape the implementation process. Our military is made up of the best and bravest men and women in our nation, and my greatest honor is leading them as Commander-in-Chief. This legislation will help make our Armed Forces even stronger and more inclusive by allowing gay and lesbian soldiers to serve honestly and with integrity.”
– President Barack Obama
A statement from NCLR Executive Director Kate Kendell, Esq.
Today the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate Armed Services Committee voted to act to end Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT), the discriminatory policy that bans lesbian, gay, and bisexual service members from openly serving in the military. The House and the Senate Armed Services Committee approved an amendment to be included in the Department of Defense appropriations bill. Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-PA) introduced the amendment in the House version, which was approved 234 to 194 in a floor vote. Earlier, the Senate Armed Services Committee voted 16 to 12 to include the same language in the Senate version of the appropriations bill.
The amendment outlines a two-step plan that would lead to the repeal of the policy, starting with the delivery of a “Working Group” report by the Pentagon on the implementation of the repeal to Defense Secretary Robert Gates by no later than December 1, 2010. The report and its recommendations, once approved and certified by the Secretary of Defense, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the President, would then be sent to the House and Senate Armed Services Committees. Action on the repeal of DADT should occur in the first quarter of 2011.
Executive Director National Center for Lesbian Rights Executive Director Kate Kendell issued the following statement:
“Today’s votes in the Senate Armed Services Committee and House of Representatives are crucial first steps to repealing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, a failed and immoral law that undermines our national security. We praise Senator Carl Levin (D-MI), Senator Joe Lieberman (I-CT), and Representative Patrick Murphy (D-PA) for their leadership and all of those who voted to move forward to repeal this law. We also hail the tremendous efforts of Servicemembers Legal Defense Network and those advocating on behalf of LGBT men and women in the armed forces. Everyday, these courageous service members risk their lives to protect our country and yet are forced to lie about who they are and often, who their families are, to everyone’s detriment. The amendment a compromise falls short of immediate, outright repeal. We are hopeful that today’s actions in Congress will lead to a full repeal, it is not yet time to celebrate the end of this appalling and shameful law. The discharges must end.”
Because Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell remains the law until full repeal is achieved, NCLR encourages active-duty service members, including the reserves and the National Guard, to read SLDN’s current warning: http://bit.ly/ds7JAL.
by David Herszenhorn and Carl Hulse | New York Times
The Senate Armed Services Committee on Thursday voted to let the Defense Department repeal the ban on gay men, lesbians and bisexual people from serving openly in the military, a big step toward dismantling the Clinton-era policy widely known as “don’t ask, don’t tell” as part of the annual Pentagon policy bill.