Boxer, DiFi co-sponsor DADT repeal

Both of California’s U.S. Senators are among the 14 original co-sponsors of a bill to repeal the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy barring military service by gays and lesbians who don’t agree to hide their sexual orientation.

The “Military Readiness Enhancement Act of 2010” was introduced today by U.S. Sen. Joseph Lieberman, I-Conn., with U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., among the co-sponsors.

“The time has come to repeal ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.’ It is the right thing to do. Every American should have the opportunity to serve their country, regardless of race, sex, creed, or sexual orientation,” Feinstein said in a news release. “The criteria for serving one’s country should be competence, courage and willingness to serve. When we deny people the chance to serve because of their sexual orientation, we deprive them of their rights of citizenship, and we deprive our armed forces the service of willing and capable Americans.”

Boxer, in Lieberman’s news release, said she looks forward “to ending the discriminatory Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy as soon as possible. We cannot afford to lose the service of dedicated and honorable military personnel, which is happening right now.”

The bill would prohibit the U.S. armed forces from discriminating based on sexual orientation; repeal the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, enacted in 1993; create a federal law preventing discrimination against current and prospective members of the armed forces based on sexual orientation; direct the Pentagon Working Group, established by the Secretary of Defense and led by military leaders, to conduct a thorough study and recommend regulations to implement repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell;” and require the Secretary of Defense to report to Congress within 180 days of the bill’s enactment on what actions have been taken to deny federal funds to any university that prevents establishment of an ROTC unit on campus.

Feinstein’s office says that about 13,000 U.S. service members have been discharged from the military under the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy since 1993; the Government Accountability Office estimates it has cost taxpayers more than $200 million to recruit and train replacements. Among those now supporting the policy’s repeal are Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; Defense Secretary Robert Gates; Navy Secretary Ray Mabus; and retired Secretary of State and former Joint Chiefs Chairman Colin Powell.

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.

  • Mike F.

    Finally, a policy that’s needed to be done away. Some of those 13,000 people discharged weren’t actually gay or lesbian. What the military needs is a program of “Harassment Training” to understand what is harassment and that it will not be tolerated.

    Where are all those Lieberman haters that wanted him punished for his stance on health care? Care to support this man now?

  • RR, Uninvited Columnist

    Profiles in Courage (sic)

  • John W.

    I don’t like Lieberman, but I’ll support him or any other elected official when I think he is right. And I’ll blast away when I think he is wrong, especially if I think he is acting for political reasons rather than based on principle. In the case of DADT, I’m glad Lieberman is taking the lead. He has credibility within the Defense establishment, and I think he is completely sincere. But “profile in courage?” I don’t think so. He is not taking on any political risk, which is a prerequisite for P-I-C status. Just the opposite. If anything, this will help him get back into the good graces of Democrats in his home state.