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BREAKING: PRESIDENT OBAMA SIGNS “DEFINING CIVIL RIGHTS MEASURE” ALLOWING FOR THE REPEAL OF DADT

PRESIDENT OBAMA SIGNS “DEFINING CIVIL RIGHTS MEASURE” ALLOWING FOR THE REPEAL OF “DON’T ASK”

“In signing this bill today, President Obama delivered on a defining civil rights measure for our country and for gay, lesbian, and bisexual service members who have been silenced for far too long. Clearly, this is President Obama’s Lyndon Johnson moment in history. A measure of dignity has been restored to thousands of service members on active duty, and to over a million gay veterans who served in silence. This historic moment is about those service members and their service,” said Aubrey Sarvis, Army veteran and executive director for Servicemembers Legal Defense Network.

“President Obama was decisive and forceful in steering the course as he brought along critical stakeholders, including the Defense Department. Now, it’s on to finishing the job at the Pentagon. Troops remain at risk under the law. We respectfully renew our call for Secretary Gates to use his authority to suspend all ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ investigations and discharges during this limbo period. Until there is certification and until the 60-day implementation period is over, no one should be investigated or discharged under this discriminatory law.

“This victory would not have been possible without several tenacious Congressional leaders, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, and U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy. In the Senate we saw remarkable determination by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Chairman Carl Levin and Senators Lieberman, Mark Udall, Gillibrand, Collins and so many others,” said Sarvis.

ABOUT SLDN: Servicemembers Legal Defense Network was established in 1993 when “Don’t Ask” originally passed. In addition to working on repeal, SLDN offers free, confidential legal services to those impacted by the discriminatory law. This year the organization received its 10,000th call for assistance to its legal hotline.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: December 22, 2010
Trevor Thomas: (616) 430-2030 or trevor@sldn.org
Paul DeMiglio: (202) 621-5408 or paul@sldn.org

STILL AT RISK: Despite the President signing the bill, service members still cannot come out. “Don’t Ask” will remain the law. Warning to service members: www.SLDN.org/StillAtRisk

SLDN FREE HOTLINE: Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender service members with questions are urged to contact the SLDN hotline to speak with a staff attorney: 202-328-3244 x100.

REPORTER WARNING: WHY SERVICE MEMBERS MAY STILL BE DISCHARGED EVEN AFTER THE PRESIDENTIAL BILL SIGNING / SERVICE MEMBERS REMAIN VULNERABLE

PRESIDENTIAL BILL SIGNING: 

• Even after the President signs the bill, service members will remain at risk for investigation and discharge. “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” will still be the law until 60 days after the Commander-in-Chief, Secretary of Defense, and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs certify repeal can happen. Read SLDN’s warnings to service members: www.sldn.org/StillAtRisk

WHAT IS CERTIFICATION:

• The President would transmit to the congressional Armed Services Committees a written certification, signed by the President, the Secretary of Defense, and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, stating each of the following: 

o (A) That the President, the Secretary of Defense, and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff have considered the recommendations contained in the report and the report’s proposed plan of action.

o (B) That the Department of Defense has prepared the necessary policies and regulations to exercise the discretion provided by the amendments made by subsection (f).

o (C) That the implementation of necessary policies and regulations pursuant to the discretion provided by the amendments made by subsection (f) is consistent with the standards of military readiness, military effectiveness, unit cohesion, and recruiting and retention of the Armed Forces.

• “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” will still be the law at this point. Service members will still be discharged. Read SLDN’s warnings: www.sldn.org/StillAtRisk.

REPEAL EFFECTIVE 60 DAYS AFTER CERTIFICATION TRANSMITTAL:

• After the President transmits written certification to the congressional Armed Services Committees, full repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” would be effective 60 days later.

EXECUTIVE ORDER BY THE PRESIDENT:

• Merely repealing DADT won't ensure that lesbian, gay, and bisexual service members can serve free of discrimination based on their sexual orientation. Policies and regulations would need to be written and put in place. SLDN will encourage the President to issue an executive order protecting service members from discrimination based on their actual or perceived sexual orientation.

o This gives the President the opportunity to show strong leadership by adding non-discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation to the uniform side of the military via Executive Order.

o EO 9981 (1948) issued by President Harry Truman prohibited discrimination in the armed services on the basis of race, color, religion or national origin.

o EO 11478 (1969) prohibited discrimination in employment within the federal government based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, handicap, or age. It applied to all civilian employees, including those in the Defense Department.

o EO 13087 (1998) issued by President Bill Clinton added sexual orientation in federal employment guidelines has been successful and set a durable precedent. OPM issued a guidance booklet in 1999, http://www.opm.gov/er/orientation.htm.

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