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.