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SLDN applauds President’s commitment to repeal DADT in 2010

(WASHINGTON, DC) – Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN) has applauded President Obama’s remarks during his State of the Union address pledging a forthcoming end to Don't Ask Don't Tell (DADT).

“We applaud the President for his call to Congress to repeal DADT this year,” said Aubrey Sarvis, executive director of SLDN. “We very much need a sense of urgency to get this done in 2010. We call on the President to repeal the DADT law in his defense budget currently being drafted, which is probably the only and best-moving bill where DADT can be killed this year.”

Attitudes toward qualified LGBT troops openly serving their country have changed dramatically in the 17 years since Congress passed the DADT law. Recent polls consistently show the American people, including a majority of conservatives (Gallup, 2009), are ready to see this law go. And younger generations of service members – who make up the bulk of the U.S. military – realize that job performance is not linked to sexual orientation, according to a Zogby poll.

Close to 190 members of the House of Representatives are cosponsors of the Military Readiness Enhancement Act, the bill that repeals DADT and replaces it with a non-discrimination policy. The first ever hearing in the Senate on repeal is expected next month.

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) released a statement responding to the President’s call for an end to the law.

“This successful policy has been in effect for over fifteen years, and it is well understood and predominantly supported by our military at all levels,” said McCain. “We have the best trained, best equipped, and most professional force in the history of our country, and the men and women in uniform are performing heroically in two wars. At a time when our Armed Forces are fighting and sacrificing on the battlefield, now is not the time to abandon the policy.”

Sarvis disagrees that DADT has been "successful", and responded with a statement of her own:

“Sen. McCain said that DADT is ‘successful.’ It would be a mistake to think this law is working. Nearly a quarter of our troops, according to a Zogby poll, know who is gay and who is not. This is a new age, Senator. Even weekly churchgoers and conservatives want to see the law go. In addition, no law or policy is successful if it hurts military readiness at a time of two wars.”