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Key committee passes resolution on “Don't Ask, Don't Tell”

(SACRAMENTO) The State Assembly Judiciary Committee yesterday endorsed a resolution calling for the repeal of the discriminatory federal policy known as "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" (DADT). The resolution, sponsored by Equality California (EQCA) and introduced by Senator Christine Kehoe (D-San Diego), calls upon Congress to pass and President Barack Obama to sign the Military Readiness Enhancement Act of 2009; which would bring an end to the policy and replace it with a policy of non-discrimination across the armed forces that would allow LGBT Americans to serve openly.

During the committee hearing, Geoff Kors EQCA Executive Director was joined by two former service members, Zoe Dunning - retired US Navy Commander , Service Members Legal Defense Network (SLDN) Board Co-chair, Joseph Rocha - retired US Navy Master at Arms, 3rd Class, as well as SLDN Board member Julian Chang and West Hollywood Councilmember Jeffrey Prang in supporting the resolution.

“We applaud our lawmakers for taking a stand for equality in the military,” said Kors. “I am confident the state of California will soon join the growing chorus of current and former service members who have called for the repeal of 'Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.' We urge President Obama and Congress to fulfill their promise to protect the rights of all Americans and to overturn this discriminatory policy immediately.”

DADT was first authorized in 1994. Since that time, more than 13,500 service members have been discharged under the policy, including more than 800 specialists serving in 'critical operations,' such as counterintelligence, medicine, and translation.

According to a General Accounting Office report, 323 language specialists have been discharged, resulting in a critical shortage of qualified translators in intelligence gathering posts.

Currently, 186 members of the U.S. House have signed on as co-sponsors to the Military Readiness Enhancement Act. Last year, 77 members of Congress sent a letter to President Obama requesting he immediately suspend discharges under the discriminatory policy.

"A soldier must display courage, patriotism, commitment and ability, none of which have anything to do with sexual orientation," said Senator Kehoe. "Overturning this shameful policy will help ensure that gay and lesbian Americans will be afforded the same opportunities as any other American who wants to serve our country."

More than 24 other nations currently allow gay, lesbian and bisexual individuals to serve openly in their militaries, including Canada and the United Kingdom, alongside whom American forces have served in combat.

Recent public opinion polls also show that a majority of both the American public and active service members believe the policy should be overturned and that gay and lesbian Americans should be allowed to serve openly in the military.