Military Readiness Enhancement Act of 2009

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Rep. Ellen Tauscher (D-Calif.) introduced the Military Readiness Enhancement Act of 2009 (H.R. 1283) on March 3, 2009. The bill seeks to repeal the "don't ask, don't tell" policy banning gays and lesbians from serving openly in the military, and it has been referred to the House Committee on Armed Services.</ref>



Contents

Background

In 1993, President Bill Clinton lifted the existing ban on gays and lesbians serving the military by instituting the "don't ask, don't tell" policy, which allowed gays to serve as long they kept their sexual orientation a secret.[1] Since the policy went into effect, more than 12,500 gay and lesbian service members have been discharged from the military.[1]

The policy is contained in 10 U.S.C. § 654, which declares that a member of the armed services may be discharged if he or she "has engaged in, attempted to engage in, or solicited another to engage in a homosexual act or acts ... has stated that he or she is a homosexual or bisexual, or words to that effect ... has married or attempted to marry a person known to be of the same biological sex."[2]

There have been efforts to repeal the "don't ask, don't tell" policy, and the Military Readiness Enhancement Act of 2009 is the latest effort. None of the earlier versions of the bill advanced past the House Committee on Armed Services.[1]

Details

This bill would striked 10 U.S.C. § 654 and replace it with a new section called, "Policy of nondiscrimination based on sexual orientation in the Armed Forces," which says that the armed forces "may not discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation against any member of the Armed Forces or against any person seeking to become a member of the Armed Forces." The section also allows for the reinstatement of any member, otherwise qualified, who was discharged under the "don't ask, don't tell" policy. [3]

House action

Rep. Ellen Tauscher (D-Calif.),along with the bill's 140 co-sponsors, introduced the bill on March 3, 2009; it has since been referred to the House Committee on Armed Services and its Subcommittee on Military Personnel.[3]

Support

In November 2007, 28 retired generals and admirals released a letter urging Congress to repeal the "don't ask, don't tell" policy.[4] In the letter, Gen. John M. Shalikashvili, chairman of the Joint Chiefs when the policy was passed, wrote:

I now believe that if gay men and lesbians served openly in the United States military, they would not undermine the efficacy of the armed forces. Our military has been stretched thin by our deployments in the Middle East, and we must welcome the service of any American who is willing and able to do the job.[4]
  • Human Rights Campaign
  • Servicemembers United
  • Log Cabin Republicans
  • Servicemembers Legal Defense Network
  • Liberty Education.

Opposition

In a Republican presidential debate in 2007, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said generals had “almost unanimously” told him the "don't ask, don't tell" policy was working.[4]

Articles and resources

See also

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Carolyn Lochhead, "Tauscher renews effort to repeal 'don't ask,'" San Francisco Chronicle, March 3, 2009
  2. Cornell University's U.S. Code Collection, "Policy concerning homosexuality in the armed forces"
  3. 3.0 3.1 OpenCongress info page on "Military Readiness Enhancement Act of 2009"
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Thom Shanker and Patrick Healy, "A New Push to Roll Back ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,'" The New York Times, November 30, 2007

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