California Senate Officially Calls for End to ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Vaishalee Raja, Equality California
916-284-9187 vaishalee@eqca.org

California Senate Officially Calls for End to ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’

SACRAMENTO, Calif. - The
California Senate officially endorsed a resolution calling for the
repeal of the discriminatory federal policy known as "Don't Ask, Don't
Tell." Sponsored by Equality California (EQCA) and introduced by
Senator Christine Kehoe (D-San Diego), the resolution calls on the
United States Congress to pass and President Barack Obama to
immediately sign the Military Readiness Enhancement Act of 2009, which
would end the unfair policy and allow gay, lesbian and bisexual
Americans to serve openly in the armed forces. The resolution passed
the State Senate in a 23-16 vote. The resolution will go before the
State Assembly in January.

"The
California Senate now joins the growing chorus of current and former
service members who have called for the repeal of this discriminatory
policy," said EQCA Executive Director Geoff Kors. "We applaud our
representatives in the State Senate for standing up for what is right,
and we urge our representatives in the Assembly and ultimately in
Washington to do the same. President Obama and Congress must fulfill
their promise to stand up for equality and overturn this policy now."

"Don't
Ask, Don't Tell" was first authorized in 1994. Since that time, more
than 13,000 service members have been discharged under the policy,
including hundreds of service members 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, 149 members of the U.S.
House have signed on as co-sponsors to the Military Readiness
Enhancement Act, which would repeal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" and replace
it with a policy of non-discrimination across the armed forces. Earlier
this summer 77 members of Congress sent a letter to President Obama
requesting he immediately suspend discharges under the discriminatory
policy.

"To
be a quality soldier you 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 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.

To find out more information about EQCA's legislation, visit www.eqca.org/legislation.

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Equality California is a nonprofit, nonpartisan, grassroots-based, statewide advocacy organization whose mission is to achieve equality and civil rights for all lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Californians.

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