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Breaking: SLDN on White House Support for Repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 24, 2010
Trevor Thomas: (616) 430-2030 or trevor@sldn.org
Paul DeMiglio: (202) 621-5408 or pdemiglio@sldn.org

BREAKING:

Servicemembers Legal Defense Network on White House Support for Repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” This Year
Critical votes in Senate Armed Services Committee and on the House floor days away

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), released a statement today after the White House issued a Statement of Administration Policy (SAP) supporting the legislative repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” this year. Earlier today, SLDN executive director Aubrey Sarvis attended a meeting with White House officials.

Statement by Army veteran and SLDN Executive Director Aubrey Sarvis:

“The White House announcement is a dramatic breakthrough in dismantling ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.’ The path forward crafted by the President, Department of Defense officials, and repeal leaders on Capitol Hill respects the ongoing work by the Pentagon on how to implement open service and allows for a vote this week. President Obama’s support and Secretary Gates’ buy-in should insure a winning vote, but we are not there yet. The votes still need to be worked and counted.

“If enacted this welcomed compromise will create a process for the President and the Pentagon to implement a new policy for lesbian and gay service members to serve our country openly, hopefully within a matter of a few months. This builds upon the support Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Admiral Michael Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, expressed for open service during the February hearing in the Senate, and further underscores that this Administration is committed to open service.

“We would not have reached this moment without the leadership and commitment of our allies on the Hill – Senators Joe Lieberman and Carl Levin, and Congressman Patrick Murphy; they all worked tirelessly to get us this far.

“For the upcoming votes in the House and Senate to succeed, it is critical that all proponents for full repeal weigh in now. The blogosphere and activists have been admirably pressing for full repeal this year and we are grateful for their help. Everyone in support of repeal needs to continue contacting their Members of Congress and ask for the vote.”

Background:

SLDN sent national action alerts to its members and supporters on Thursday asking they contact key senators on the Armed Services Committee as we approach the markup of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2011. Advocates have been working to muster the 15 critical votes needed on the committee to include repeal. A similar alert was also sent in support of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to hold a floor vote on repeal this week. Advocates are working with Congressional leadership to offer an amendment on the House floor adding repeal of DADT to the defense budget bill. The House floor vote may happen as early as this week.

To view SLDN’s action alert click here.

SLDN has been urging the President to voice his support for the legislative repeal of DADT this year. SLDN has been posting a daily letter to the President from a person impacted by DADT. “Stories from the Frontlines: Letters to President Barack Obama” underscores the urgent need for congressional action and presidential leadership at this critical point in the fight to repeal DADT. More than 50 blogs and websites are currently highlighting the letters. You can read each letter by visiting: www.sldn.org/letters.

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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