Rep. Ellen Tauscher, D-Alamo, has scheduled a news conference for Wednesday to make “a major announcement… about her new role in the Congressional campaign to repeal the military’s ban on lesbian, gay and bisexual service personnel,” according to a press release.
Tauscher has long been opposed to the policy, co-sponsoring bills to repeal it and using her seat on the House Armed Services Committee to call for hearings on it, particularly in light of military forces already stretched thin by the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Now, with Democrats in the majority, Tauscher and like-minded allies might see their chance.
H.R. 1246, the Military Readiness Enhancement Act, which would repeal the policy, is pending in the House with 125 co-sponsors from both sides of the aisle, including all of the Bay Area delegation except for Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Pleasanton, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco.
But that bill’s sponsor, Marty Meehan, D-Mass., will leaving Congress next month to become Chancellor of the University of Massachusetts, Lowell… perhaps this week’s announcement has something to do with that?
Tauscher will be joined at Wednesday’s news conference by Sharra Greer, director of law and policy for Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, and Joe Solmonese, president of the Human Rights Campaign. They’ll surely note that more than 11,000 service personnel have been dismissed under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” since 1993, and the Government Accountability Office has found that nearly 800 of them had “mission-critical” skills, including more than 300 language experts. The armed forces fire at least two people per day for being lesbian, gay or bisexual.