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Army ROTC Student Kicked Out for Being Gay Meets with Congressional Offices Today on Capitol Hill

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 11, 2010

Contact: Paul DeMiglio
(202) 621-5408 or pdemiglio@sldn.org

Army ROTC Student Kicked Out for Being Gay Meets with Congressional Offices Today on Capitol Hill
Discharged from her ROTC program under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”; Student told to repay $80,000 scholarship

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN), a national, legal services and policy organization dedicated to ending "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" (DADT), announced today that SLDN-client Sara Isaacson, a University of North Carolina Army ROTC student, is on Capitol Hill meeting with Congressional offices after she was recently discharged by the government for being gay. Isaacson is scheduled to meet with six offices in the North Carolina Congressional delegation.

“Our first meeting this morning went very well. I was able to share my story and tell them about my dream to follow my grandfather and become an Army doctor. I think it was beneficial for them to hear it directly from me,” said Sara Isaacson, who was recently discharged from her Army ROTC program. “I believe in living up to the military’s core values of integrity. If I could serve openly and honestly, I’d seriously consider returning to school today and serving my country after graduation.”

In a January letter to the commander of her Army ROTC program, Isaacson stated she is a lesbian. In being honest about her sexual orientation, Isaacson was discharged in March under DADT. Isaacson said school officials have told her she will need to repay the government the $79,265.14 in student funding provided by her ROTC scholarship.

“Sara’s story is the latest reminder of why ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ needs to be repealed now,” said Aubrey Sarvis, executive director of Servicemembers Legal Defense Network. “’Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ strips the military of talented young people like Sara for simply being who they are – it’s not only discrimination but it’s weakening our national security. We need Congress and the President to voice their support for ending this law this year.”

SLDN is contacted by a number of ROTC students every year who are impacted by “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” According to Legal Director Aaron Tax, if service members are deemed to be coming out as gay or lesbian “voluntarily,” they can expect the military to recoup against them on a pro-rated basis. This is a consequence of the Hensala case, a federal court decision: http://openjurist.org/343/f3d/951/hensala-v-department-of-the-air-force-f.

On Monday, SLDN issued a national action alert urging members and supporters to call Congressional leaders and the White House and tell them to repeal DADT this year. To view the alert visit: http://bit.ly/aT7nGQ. This is the second national action alert in a week by SLDN calling on President Barack Obama to fully repeal DADT this year. The previous action alert, sent to SLDN’s members and supporters May 5, directed calls to the White House switchboard. To learn more visit: http://bit.ly/dt00NG.

Nearly two weeks ago, on the evening of April 30, the Obama Administration shot a simultaneous salvo – from the Pentagon and the White House -- against advocates fighting for repeal this year. In a letter to the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, Defense Secretary Robert Gates came out against lifting the ban before the Pentagon's Working Group finishes its DADT study in December. Hours later, the White House issued a statement deferring to Gates. In doing so, President Obama appeared to reverse on the commitment he made during his State of the Union Address when he said: “This year, I will work with Congress and our military to finally repeal the law that denies gay Americans the right to serve the country they love because of who they are. It's the right thing to do.”

Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (www.sldn.org) is a national, non-profit legal services and policy organization dedicated to ending “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” A journalists’guide is available here.

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