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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 10, 2010
9:55 AM

CONTACT: EQCA

Vaishalee Raja, Communications Director
PHONE: (916) 284-9187
EMAIL: vaishalee@eqca.org

Equality California Hails Federal Court Decision Striking Down “Don't Ask, Don't Tell”

California Assembly recently passed Equality California-sponsored resolution putting state on record in favor of repealing the discriminatory federal policy

SACRAMENTO - September 10 - A federal judge in Riverside yesterday struck down the discriminatory federal policy barring gays and lesbians from serving openly in the military. U.S. District Judge Virginia A. Phillips said the ban violated the first amendment and due process rights of gay and lesbian service members. The judge will issue an injunction to halt the policy, but the Justice Department can appeal.

In response, Equality California Executive Director Geoff Kors issued the following statement:

“We sincerely hope this ruling paves the way for the permanent dismantling of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,’ an antiquated policy that keeps patriotic, courageous soldiers from serving openly and honestly in the military. Sexual orientation has nothing to do with a soldier’s ability to serve his or her country, and those who have dedicated themselves in service of our nation should be able to serve with dignity and freedom from discrimination.

“We urge the Department of Justice not to appeal this historic ruling, and we implore Congress and President Obama to cease the discharges of brave soldiers and to immediately repeal this damaging policy.”

In May, the California Assembly passed a resolution (SJR-9) calling for the repeal of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.” Introduced by Senator Christine Kehoe (D-San Diego) in 2009 and sponsored by Equality California, the resolution calls on the U.S. Congress to pass and President Obama to immediately sign the Military Readiness Enhancement Act of 2009, which would end the policy and allow gay, lesbian and bisexual Americans to serve openly in the armed forces.

"Don't Ask, Don't Tell" 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.

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 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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