Frontlines: The Latest from OutServe-SLDN

SLDN Takes the Hill!

Photo by Judy Rolfe.
Lobby Day 2007 was a tremendous success! Nearly 200 SLDN supporters converged on Capitol Hill last Monday to demand that Congress repeal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." That's nearly four times larger than our last Lobby Day! Our presence made a big difference in raising the visibility of the movement to repeal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" on Capitol Hill. Together, we visited all 535 Congressional offices. Our rally in front of the Capitol Monday afternoon brought together more than 250 people and an inspiring slate of speakers including Representatives Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Barney Frank (D-MA)! [Click here to check out the full list of our impressive rally speakers.] We waved signs, chanted, listened to the powerful stories of the veterans gracing our stage, and made a powerful statement that the American people want “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” to go. Directly in response to our efforts, four more members of the House of Representatives have signed on as cosponsors of the Military Readiness Enhancement Act! Representatives Anna Eshoo (D-CA) and David Price (D-NC) both signed on as cosponsors during our Lobby Day, and Representatives Yvette Clarke (D-NY) and Albio Sires (D-NJ) signed on this week. Our bill to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” now has 119 bipartisan cosponsors, and we expect our support to continue to grow. Last Monday SLDN supporters proudly wore t-shirts emblazoned with our message to Repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and Lift the Ban. Congressional staff and visitors alike took notice of our matching t-shirts as well as our presence in every single Congressional office. All day long passersby stopped us and asked questions about repealing "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." Conversations like these go a long way in building a majority of Americans in support of lifting the ban! Congress is hearing us. Capitol Hill is now buzzing with the need to repeal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." The momentum is growing! Now it's your turn! Writing your Member of Congress only takes a few minutes and is an effective way to make your views heard. Click here to call on your Representative to support the Military Readiness Enhancement Act! Thank you for your commitment to lifting the ban! - Jill Raney

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“Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” en Espanol

Tonight at 10pm ET on your local Univision channel, former Army Sergeant Pepe Johnson will be on Aqui y Ahora, talking about his experiences under "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." Be sure to tune in! - Rebecca Sawyer

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A Good Policy? Good Grief.

You may recall that we previously wondered, in light of remarks by the White House, if President Bush might be reconsidering his support for "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." Today, we got our answer. The Associated Press reports that, during a press conference earlier today, President Bush was asked directly about his reaction to remarks by General Peter Pace, and whether he also believed that being lesbian or gay is immoral. From AP: [The President] declined to directly comment on the characterization by Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, of homosexuality as immoral. "Don't ask, don't tell is good policy," Bush said, citing the present military policy on gays. Good policy? Let's review: - More than 11,000 men and women have been dismissed under the policy, including service members like Bleu Copas, an Arabic linguist who was booted from the Army after his command learned he is gay. - The "good policy" has cost taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars . . . money that could be spent on body armor, healthcare for veterans, or any number of other things. - The men and women of the military don't seem to think the ban is such a "good policy." Three out of four Iraq & Afghan vets say they are comfortable around gays and lesbians. 79% of the American public supports repeal. Despite all that, President Bush thinks this is a "good policy?" Good grief. Join the discussion about the President's comments at Pam’s House Blend. - Steve Ralls

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L-Word.com Dinner Coverage

L-Word.com, a fan site dedicated to everything related to Showtime's The L Word, has great photos (including the one shown here), and a report, from SLDN's national dinner. BetteAndTinaFAN writes that "Rose Rollins was the last to speak and after a very wonderful speech about Tasha’s storyline and how she was proud to be the one to portray it, she laughed and said that it was her first public speech and then she finished with the words, 'We want to stand with you to tell the stories to end ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’.'" For complete coverage, visit www.l-word.com. - Steve Ralls

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By the Numbers

Detroit News columnist Deb Price has a great article this morning about Gary Gates and the Williams Institute at UCLA. Gates is the researcher who has found, among other things, that there are at least 65,000 lesbian and gay Americans on duty in the U.S. military. And, he has estimated, another 41,000 would enlist were it not for "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." Price reports this morning that Gates has another new estimate about gays in the military: "Gates loves having given the nation a solid number to chew on as Congress gets ready to reconsider the Don't Ask, Don't Tell ban on gays serving openly in the military. But his pet number right now is 3,000. That's the annual number of gay people who don't re-enlist because of Don't Ask, Don't Tell, and it includes the 600 who get booted out. With the military needing about 18,400 more people a year, Gates' 3,000 number means that just lifting the ban would get the Pentagon nearly one-sixth of the way to its target." "The 65,000 number is the most extreme example of my making visible an invisible group," says Gates, stressing the difficulty of counting people ordered to remain silent. "But, in military circles," he adds, "the 3,000 figure gets more attention. We can say, 'Because of this single policy, you are losing 3,000 already trained and seasoned people who could really help you with your recruitment problem.' That's a big deal." The research by Gates is immeasurably important in understanding the true impact of the military's gay ban. Because of his research, we have better insight into the real cost of anti-gay discrimination. You can visit the Williams Institute online here. - Steve Ralls

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