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DADT discharges continue despite repeal that's underway

WASHINGTON – The Pentagon has announced that three more servicemembers have been discharged under the military’s outgoing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy that discriminates against LGBT troops.

DADT is still in effect until 60 days after the repeal process is officially certified. Outgoing Defense Secretary Robert Gates predicted recently that certification won’t be done until late July or early August, so LGBT troops should continue to exercise the utmost caution.

The latest DADT discharges did not sit well with advocacy groups.

"It is rather shocking that we continue to see isolated incidents of servicemembers trying to force the Pentagon to let them out of their service obligations because the 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' law still technically remains on the books," said Alexander Nicholson, executive director of Servicemembers United.

"The Pentagon has made it abundantly clear that it does not want to enforce 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' any longer and that it is more than willing to deal with any lingering harassment issues through the chain of command or, in the case of command involvement, the base's or post's Inspector General's office. Thousands of servicemembers have dreamed of the day when 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' would be virtually dead and commands would plead with openly gay servicemembers to remain in the service. It really would behoove the Defense Department to expedite certification so that no one can use this archaic law as a loophole to leave the military early anymore."

Aubrey Sarvis, executive director of Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, said the discharges should be a cautionary tale.

“These Air Force discharges underscore that DADT investigations and discharges continue,” he said.

“Unfortunately, SLDN has a client right now who was recently recommended for discharge at a board hearing, and his paperwork is headed to the Navy Secretary. He made no statement, and he wants to continue serving. We have another client who is having a board hearing later this week, and if this senior enlisted person is recommended for discharge, her paperwork will likely be before the Navy Secretary in short order. She, too, wishes to continue serving.

“Let me be clear. At SLDN, we have scores of clients who have been advised they are under DADT investigations. Some of these clients have between 10 and 15 years of honorable service, few made voluntary statements, and none to my knowledge has asked to be ‘separated expeditiously.’ For these service members, especially, certification and final repeal cannot come soon enough. The continued stress of investigations and the risk of separation under DADT is real and very much imminent,” Sarvis said.

Finding help

STILL AT RISK: Despite the President signing the bill authorizing repeal of DADT, it is still unsafe for service members to come out until 60 days after certification by President Obama, the Defense Secretary and Admiral Mullen.

SLDN FREE HOTLINE: Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender service members with questions are urged to contact the hotline to speak with a staff attorney: (202) 328-3244 x100.