House Vote Soon on Don't Ask, Don't Tell

Tens of thousands of lesbian and gay service members have been discharged from the military due to the discriminatory Don't Ask, Don't Tell (DADT) policy. How many more will see their careers cut short? How many more will continue to serve under a cloud of possible exposure?

Finally, the end is in sight for this unjust policy -- but we need your help to make it happen. This week a key vote is taking place in the House of Representatives on the Defense Authorization bill, and we expect Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-Pa.) to introduce an amendment that would repeal DADT. Unfortunately, the amendment will likely include a delay in implementation of the repeal until after the Defense Department has completed its study of the issue. At the very least, there should be a reasonable time limit on any such delay.

Take Action

Call or write your member of Congress NOW, and urge them to vote FOR the amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act that would end DADT without delay.

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Background:

Since its inception in 1994, the Don't Ask, Don't Tell (DADT) policy has prevented lesbians and gay men from serving openly in the military. The policy has resulted in the discharge of more than 14,000 service members so far, with an estimated 66,000 LGBT people currently serving in the armed forces and at risk of expulsion.

DADT has a disproportionate impact on women in the military, according to the Service Women's Action Network. Sexual harassment of military women often takes the form of lesbian baiting; and in 2008, 34 percent of service members discharged were women, although women make up only 15 percent of military personnel.

President Obama, as well as high ranking military officials, have stated that it's time for the policy to go. However, the Department of Defense is conducting a study on the implementation of repeal, resulting in a delay of justice that may drag on until the end of the year or even further.

NOW firmly believes that this issue does not need to be studied any longer. Extensive research has already been done. Other countries have taken the lead in welcoming openly lesbian and gay service members into their armed forces, and the results have been positive and productive. With equality on the line, the U.S. should stop wasting time and end DADT immediately.

"Every day that this unjust policy continues is another day of discrimination that leads to the military's loss of valuable service members and the needless disruption of their careers and lives," says NOW President Terry O'Neill.

Take action NOW by contacting your representative. Phone calls to their office are especially important at this point. When you call, use the language from NOW's sample letter as your talking points. If you can't call, please send an email right away.