Friday, July 18, 2008

House Committee to hold first congressional hearings on "don't ask don't tell" since 1993

SLDN is reporting that next week, on Wednesday July 23, 2008 the House of Representatives Subcommittee on Military Personnel will hold the first hearing on “don’t ask don’t tell” since it was codified into law in November 1993 (and implemented with a formal Pentagon policy in February 1994).

The SLDN reports that over 12,500 servicemembers have been discharged from the Armed Forces of the United States under “don’t ask don’t tell” and that 65,000 glbt personnel serve covertly. Over 60 linguists fluent in Arabic have been discharged. And polls show that now 79% of Americans support allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly in the military, up from 57% in 1992. That statistic bodes well for pressure for legislative change through the democratic political process, rather than from trying to rely on the courts. So far, three appeals courts have made ruling on the policy in some form, and have upheld its constitutionality under the doctrine of “deference to the military,” making it unlikely the Supreme Court could take it. It is true that one sailor, Keith Meinhold, did successfully challenge the “old” 1981 “absolute” policy (the “123 Words” in Randy Shilts’s 1993 book “Conduct Unbecoming”) in the Ninth Circuit (sldn account here.)

SLDN offers an email link to inform others about the hearing, here.

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