WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Tom Udall, D-NM, today announced that he is co-sponsoring legislation introduced by Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman to repeal the ban on openly gay service members in the military.
“For almost two decades, ‘Don’t Ask Don’t Tell’ has placed an unjust burden on qualified service members who are forced to hide who they are in order to defend our country,” Udall said. “Repealing this policy is the right thing to do. As Barry Goldwater used to say, ‘You don’t have to be straight to shoot straight.’ It’s time to end this discriminatory policy that has kept too many patriotic Americans from serving our country.”
The Military Readiness Enhancement Act of 2010 contains three main provisions: it will repeal the law that prevents gay Americans from openly serving in the military, prohibit discrimination against current and prospective service members on the basis of sexual orientation, and promote the ability of college students who wish to serve our country to join Reserve Officer Training Corps units at universities that currently prevent the establishment of ROTC units on campus. The bill incorporates the Pentagon Working Group that has been created at the direction of Defense Secretary Robert Gates to conduct a study and propose an implementation plan for the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”
Lieberman introduced the legislation after President Obama announced during his State of the Union address plans to end the 17-year-old “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” law. Gates and Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, echoed the president’s call for a repeal during recent congressional testimony.
In his testimony on Feb. 2, Mullen told the Senate Armed Services Committee that a repeal of the policy would be “the right thing to do.”
“No matter how I look at the issue, I cannot escape being troubled by the fact that we have in place a policy which forces young men and women to lie about who they are in order to defend their fellow citizens. For me, personally, it comes down to integrity – theirs as individuals and ours as an institution,” Mullen said.