Out & Equal Workplace Advocates applauds today’s actions that move the United States closer to the end of the military’s discriminatory “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy. This afternoon, President Barack Obama, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, all certified that the military is ready to accept the open service of lesbian and gay servicemembers. All three leaders had to sign off on the certification, according to the requirements of the bill that repealed the policy.
As required by the repeal process, the policy will formally end on September 20, 60 days after today’s certification. Advocates who work with lesbian and gay servicemembers caution that it is not yet safe to come out until the repeal process is complete.
“‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ limited the career choices of lesbian and gay people, requiring them to remain in the closet or be denied the right to serve their country,” noted Executive Director Selisse Berry. “In all areas of work, including military service, people should be judged by the work that they do, not on who they are or who they love. We are thrilled that yet another barrier has fallen and we are closer to full equality.”
While today’s move was an important step, Out & Equal also calls upon the military to continue their work towards full equality for LGBT servicemembers. The military’s policies still discriminate on the basis of gender identity, denying transgender people’s right to serve. In addition, servicemembers in same-sex marriages will still not be granted benefits that are equal to their heterosexual counterparts.
“There is still a great deal of work that remains to be done before the military treats the LGBT community equally. The military leadership needs to ensure that servicemembers can serve safely and openly and be offered equal benefits and consideration,” stated Kevin Jones, Deputy Director. “This work isn’t done until transgender people can serve and the families of LGBT people are recognized and respected.”
Servicemembers are encouraged to read the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network information about the repeal process and how it might impact you.