WASHINGTON - August 23 - As the Marine Corps' dismissal of lesbian and gay troops increases, President Bush has authorized an involuntary recall of Marine Corps Individual Ready Reservists (IRR) "because there are not enough volunteers returning for duty in Afghanistan and Iraq," according to a report from CNN. The recall, which is meant to bridge a recruitment shortfall of about 1,200 people, follows a report in May that the Corps' dismissal of service members under the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" ban on lesbian and gay personnel has increased for the first time since 2001. Since 1993, the Marine Corps has dismissed 953 men and women under the law.
"If President Bush is truly interested in boosting the manpower of our services, he should immediately endorse repeal of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell,'" said C. Dixon Osburn, executive director of Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN). "Every day, our armed forces lose at least two people because of the ban on open service. Those men and women are ready, willing and able to serve, but are prohibited from doing so because of an outdated law that has no useful purpose. Our closest allies in Iraq and Afghanistan already benefit from welcoming openly gay troops, and we should as well. Today's news is yet another compelling reason for Congress to lift the ban."
More than 11,000 men and women have been dismissed under "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" since the law was implemented. According to a report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO), more than 800 of those had skills deemed "critical" by the Department of Defense, including linguistic training, medical skills and expertise in combat engineering.
"Every day, the Marine Corps loses good men and women because of this law, and every day, others choose not to re-enlist because they are officially unwelcome in the services," said former Marine Sergeant and Iraq War veteran Brian Fricke. "The readiness of our armed forces should be our primary concern, not the bias and prejudice that keeps 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' in place. Every American benefits when every qualified American who wants to serve is given the opportunity to do so."
A Congressional bill to repeal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" is now supported by 119 bi-partisan members of Congress. For more information on the law, visit http://www.sldn.org.