Don’t Ask Don’t Tell Finally Repealed!

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Imagine being a member of the United States Armed Forces, making sacrifices everyday to protect your country and the freedom that it stands for. Now imagine after of years of dedicated and honorable service, being discharged from the Armed Forces because of your sexual orientation. This is the story of Air Force Major Mike Almy, who served in the United States Air Force for thirteen years, six of these years in Iraq.

While serving in Iraq, Major Mike Almy was in charge of leading 200 airmen and was named one of the top officers in his career field in the entire Air Force.  Shortly after Major Almy left Iraq, his private emails between him and the man he loved were illegally read and forwarded to his commander, resulting in his duties being relieved, his security clearance being suspended, and part of his pay being terminated. Major Almy was then discharged in 2006 under the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell (DADT) law, which restricts the United States military from trying to reveal closeted gay, lesbian, and bisexual service members or applicants, while barring those who are openly gay, lesbian, or bisexual from military service. Major Almy is not alone; over 14,000 service members have been discharged under DADT since Congress passed the law in 1993.

DADT was finally repealed in December of 2010, when President Obama signed the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell Repeal Act of 2010 into law. Although DADT was created to prevent conflict and violence, it was often being enforced by unconstitutional measures.  According to the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, an organization dedicated to ending discrimination against military personnel, many superiors acted on assumptions and went through soldier’s emails and private belongings, such as in the case of Major Almy.  Gay soldiers were targeted under DADT due to gay profiling. Furthermore, discharging service members under DADT has had negative effects on the Armed Forces.  The Government Accountability Office estimates that as of 2003, the military had discharged more than 750 mission-critical military personnel and more than 320 with skills in useful languages such as Arabic, Korean and Farsi.

The repeal of DADT can be attributed to the support of the many Americans who joined together to oppose this discriminatory law.  ABC News reported that 75% of Americans support gays serving openly. At the 2009 annual dinner of the Human Rights Campaign, a gay civil rights advocacy group, President Obama declared “I will end don't ask-don't tell… We should not be punishing patriotic Americans who have stepped forward to serve the country.” Growing support for the repeal of DADT also occurred within the military itself. According to the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, 73% of military personnel are comfortable with lesbians and gays.

It has been a long road to repeal DADT since 1993.  In 2005 the Military Readiness Act was introduced to the US House of Representatives, which sought to replace DADT with a policy of nondiscrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.  However, the bill remained stalled in committee each time it was introduced.  Additionally, on September 9, 2010, a federal district judge declared DADT to be unconstitutional in Log Cabin Republicans v. United States of America.  Federal Judge Virginia Phillips ruled that Department of Defense was prohibited from enforcing or complying with DADT. However, this injunction was overturned on November 1, 2010 by the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals, and DADT still remained in effect. Democrats in both the House and Senate then intended to repeal DADT with an amendment to the Defense Authorization bill, but a Republican filibuster lead by Senator John McCain prevented this from happening. John McCain commented "Absolutely I will filibuster or stop it [DADT] from being brought up until we have a thorough and complete study on the effect of morale and battle effectiveness." In response, Senator Joe Lieberman introduced the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell Repeal Act of 2010 in the Senate, and Congressman Patrick Murphy introduced the same bill in the House, which was then finally passed by the House of Representatives on December 15, 2010 and by the Senate on December 18, 2010, and subsequently signed into law by President Obama on December 22, 2010.

Despite the treatment he received, Major Almy wrote to President Obama “…my greatest desire is still to return to active duty as an officer and leader in the United States Air Force, protecting the freedoms of a nation that I love; freedoms that I myself was not allowed to enjoy while serving in the military.” The Don’t Ask Don’t Tell Repeal Act of 2010 will now give Major Almy and other openly gay, lesbian, and bisexual Americans the opportunity to serve their country.

 

For More Information Visit:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7-MjLWkDNqY  Watch Obama Sign the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell Repeal Act of 2010!

http://www.sldn.org/ Servicemembers Legal Defense Network

http://facesofdadt.org/ The Faces of DADT

 

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