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Another breakthrough on DADT

SAN DIEGO -- The Reserve Officers Association, a national veterans group based in Washington, D.C., voted Wednesday to rescind its previous call for complete exclusion of gays and lesbians serving in the U.S. military.

The association also rejected a proposal to endorse the current Don't Ask, Don't Tell (DADT) law, which allows gays and lesbians to serve, provided they keep silent about their sexual orientation.

“This is a tremendous step forward,” said Michael Magee, board co-chairman of the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network. Magee, of San Diego, noted that the Reserve Officers Association is multigenerational and often slow to embrace change.

“This is an important decision,” Magee said. “It shows that support for repeal of DADT is growing … and that traditional boundaries are falling.”

Aubrey Sarvis, SLDN’s executive director, called ROA’s decision significant.

"This is a major breakthrough for proponents of repealing DADT,” Sarvis said. “Clearly, the association heard Secretary Gates, Admiral Mullen, and Gen. Colin Powell last week. ROA's decision is by no means a full victory, but clearly is a concrete indication that the opposition to open service is crumbling, even within one of the largest and oldest military organizations."

Previously, ROA had urged Congress "to exclude homosexuals from induction, enlistment, commissioning and continued service in the Armed Forces of the United States." This was U.S. government policy before DADT went into law in 1993.

A revised proposal “to make no changes to the current law” (DADT) was also voted down. As a result, the ROA now takes no position on current proposals to repeal DADT.

Ken Williams can be reached at ken@sdgln.com or by calling (877) 727-5446, Extension 713.