This open letter addressed to servicemembers, the LGBT community and allies just came across from Aubrey Sarvis, an Army veteran who serves as executive director of the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network:
With the President signing legislation into law that provides a pathway to repeal, the SLDN family and greater LGBT community, along with our allies, should be proud of the role each person played in making history. But the job is not done.
Troops remain at risk under the law. Our service member hotline has not silenced. Since the President signed legislation, 135 service members and veterans have contacted our legal team for help. “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” will remain the law until certification and the 60-day implementation period have been completed.
While a measure of dignity has been restored to thousands of service members on active duty, and to over a million gay and lesbian veterans who served in silence – the uncertainty and fear in the ranks remains. Our mission and our services will continue: securing the freedom for all qualified to serve in the U.S. military with equality of treatment and opportunity.
We all know there is vital work unfinished.
In the near term:
* We will press ahead for swift certification so we can move ahead to implement the law, and to deliver on our new law’s promise of open and honest military service. SLDN will keep our eye on this prize until DADT repeal is a reality.
* We must urge the President to finish the task by issuing an Executive Order upon certification barring discrimination on sexual orientation and gender identity.
* We must insist the spirit and letter of the law are enforced and that all LGBT Servicemembers actually receive equal treatment for the same selfless service. As the only organization that promises and delivers free legal advice to those joining or serving in uniform, today and in the future, we have service members to defend and injustices to remedy.
Beginning this year and the years that follow:
* SLDN will advocate for the same support and benefits that are taken for granted by others in uniform – to ensure for the first time that all dependents and loved ones are recognized fairly for their sacrifices. Our LGBT military families count too.
* We must accelerate the re-accession of all qualified and able candidates for military service who were harmed or discharged under DADT and who once again wish to serve their country.
* We will speak up for and assist our veterans to address dishonorable and hurtful discharges and empower them to seek redress for the veterans benefits they earned.
On December 22, 2010, President Obama strengthened American security while laying out a plan to end this chapter of shameful discrimination in our armed services. But the job is not done.
Together, with your generous support and commitment, we have made history – and together we will ensure a brighter future and greater opportunity for every LGBT service member and all our military families.
With a pathway to repeal, we now must keep doing all in our power to make sure each one has the equal chance to succeed. That is America’s story and ours.
U.S. Army veteran and SLDN executive director
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