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CONTACT: National Organization for Women
Mai Shiozaki, 202-628-8669, ext. 116; cell 202-641-1906
NOW Condemns Senate Failure to Repeal Don't Ask, Don't Tell
WASHINGTON - September 22 - The National Organization for Women condemns the Senate's failure yesterday to repeal the U.S. military's discriminatory Don't Ask, Don't Tell (DADT) policy. This policy, which bars lesbians and gay men from serving openly in the military, has resulted in the unjust discharge of more than 14,000 service members.
"Women and men who dedicated their lives to serving their country have had their careers ended -- not because of their job performance but because of their sexual orientation," said NOW President Terry O'Neill. "The tide has officially turned on this issue -- 57 percent of people now say that openly gay service members should be allowed to serve in the military. Those generals and legislators who cling to this unfair policy are fighting a losing battle."
The Senate could not break a Republican-orchestrated filibuster designed to block debate on the annual defense authorization bill, to which the DADT repeal was attached.
"The House managed to pass a version of the defense bill that included a repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell. Why can't the Senate do the right thing?" asked O'Neill.
Although such a repeal would not have taken effect prior to the certification of the much-awaited Pentagon report on implementation of a repeal, due Dec. 1, NOW repeatedly has stated that further study is not warranted, and President Obama should use his authority to suspend any further discharges until the policy can be formally repealed.
"Starting right now, not another service member should lose their job due to bigotry or intolerance," said O'Neill. "I want to see our leaders stand up for the principles of equality and justice. As a matter of fact, six weeks out from the midterm elections is a perfect time to put these values into practice."Note: Various polls show strong support for lesbians and gay men serving openly in the military, with numbers ranging from 57 percent (Quinnipiac University) to 70 percent (Gallup), 75 percent (Washington Post/ABC News), and as high as 78 percent (CNN).