U.S. Rep. Ellen Tauscher, a California Democrat, has announced that she plans to introduce legislation today (Monday, March 2) to rescind the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, enacted by Congress under President Clinton 16 years ago, that keeps lesbians and gays from being able to serve openly in the U.S. military.
“It makes no sense to discharge capable service members for something as irrelevant as their sexual orientation,” Tauscher wrote in a letter urging House colleagues to sign on as co-sponsors of the bill.
“It is time to allow the military to recruit and retain all of the qualified, talented individuals who wish to serve our country, regardless of their sexual orientation,” Tauscher said, noting that 20 of the U.S. 25 NATO partners allow gays and lesbians to serve openly, and “”none of them have experienced any detriment to troop morale or unit cohesion.”
An estimated 12,500 men and women have been discharged from the military since the ban was enacted, including about 800 with key jobs such as Arabic translators, medical staff, pilots and intelligence personnel, according to the Service members Legal Defense Network.
President Obama has said he favors ending the ban on openly gay servicemembers.