State of California Officially Endorses Immediate Repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”

Sacramento — As the U.S. Congress prepares for a vote on the discriminatory federal policy known as “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” today the California State Senate voted in favor of officially endorsing the resolution (SJR-9) calling for the repeal of DADT in a 24-7 vote that included bipartisan support. Introduced by Senator Christine Kehoe (D-San Diego) in 2009 and endorsed by the Assembly last week, the resolution calls on the United States Congress to pass and President Barack Obama to immediately sign the Military Readiness Enhancement Act of 2009, which would end the policy and allow gay, lesbian and bisexual Americans to serve openly in the armed forces.

“We are thrilled that the State of California is officially on record in favor of repealing ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,’ an antiquated policy that keeps patriotic, courageous soldiers from serving openly and honestly in the military, and now we call on the entire California congressional delegation to follow the legislature’s lead,” said EQCA Executive Director Geoff Kors. “We call for President Obama to cease the discharges of brave soldiers now and to keep his promise to repeal this damaging policy. We urge Congress and President Obama to act immediately—a repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ is long overdue.”

“Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” was first authorized in 1994. Since that time, more than 13,500 service members have been discharged under the policy, including more than 800 specialists serving in ‘critical operations,’ such as counterintelligence, medicine, and translation. According to a General Accounting Office report, 323 language specialists have been discharged, resulting in a critical shortage of qualified translators in intelligence gathering posts.

At least 186 members of the U.S. House have signed on as co-sponsors to the Military Readiness Enhancement Act, which would repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and replace it with a policy of non-discrimination across the armed forces. Last year, 77 members of Congress sent a letter to President Obama requesting he immediately suspend discharges under the discriminatory policy.

“A soldier must display courage, patriotism, commitment and ability—none of which have anything to do with sexual orientation,” said Senator Kehoe. “Overturning this shameful policy will help ensure that gay and lesbian Americans will be afforded the same opportunities as any other American who wants to serve our country.”

More than 24 other nations currently allow lesbian, gay and bisexual individuals to serve openly in their militaries, including Canada and the United Kingdom, alongside whom American forces have served in combat. Recent public opinion polls show that a majority of both the American public and active service members believe the policy should be overturned and that gay and lesbian Americans should be allowed to serve openly in the military.