We are applauding the House’s vote to repeal Don’t Ask Don’t Tell (DADT) yesterday. DADT is the law that forces LGBT military members to hide their sexuality at the risk of losing their careers.
Congressman Patrick Murphy said that “with today’s vote, we are a step closer to dismantling a policy that is not only discriminatory but is harmful to our national security.We’ve lost thousands of patriotic, highly-trained troops…who were kicked out of the military just because they happened to be gay.”
We have been advocating for the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell because of its devastating impact on Latinas who are vulnerable under this law which disproportionately discriminates against women and racial minorities. Although women make up only 14% of the Army, for example, women received 46% of the Army’s DADT discharges in FY 2009. And while 20% of Air Force personnel are women, almost half of its discharges under the policy last year were women. These trends are similarly disproportionate for racial minorities.
The strength of the military has also suffered under the forced discrimination of DADT. Since 1994, more than 13,500 committed service members have been discharged under DADT including most recently linguists, medical aides, combat engineers, and special forces members. A 2005 GAO report found that the military had already discharged 757 “mission-critical specialists” under DADT and according to recent data released by the Palm Center at the University of California, Santa Barbara, the U.S. military continued to discharge mission-critical troops throughout FY 2009. In addition, the military has likely shelled out millions of dollars in the investigation, elimination, and replacement (including the re-training) of these positions. That amount of resources will continue to rise as the government pays to defend the discriminatory policy in futile litigation.
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer stated that DADT “forces brave men and women to lie about who they are, and it compromises the military’s core value of integrity every day. The majority of our troops want it repealed. And the leaders of our Armed Forces – Secretary Gates and Admiral Mullen, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff – want it repealed, as well. The Senate must join the House and vote for a responsible end to ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ so we can send it to the President’s desk for his signature.”
The bill is now poised for Senate action. We are urging the Senate to take up this legislation immediately and vote for repeal in order to stop the practice of forced discrimination against Latina service women.