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BREAKING: SLDN STATEMENT ON U.S. SENATE VOTE TO *ALLOW* FOR THE REPEAL OF “DON’T ASK”

SLDN STATEMENT ON U.S. SENATE VOTE TO *ALLOW* FOR THE REPEAL OF “DON’T ASK”

“Gay, lesbian and bisexual service members posted around the world are standing a little taller today, but they’re still very much at risk because repeal is not final. I respectfully ask Defense Secretary Robert Gates to use his authority to suspend all ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ investigations during this interim period. Until the President signs the bill, until there is certification, and until the 60-day Congressional period is over, no one should be investigated or discharged under this discriminatory law. Even with this historic vote, service members must continue to serve in silence until repeal is final. Certification and the 60-day Congressional requirement must be wrapped up no later than the first quarter of 2011. The bottom line: for now, gay, lesbian, and bisexual service members must remain cautiously closeted,” said Aubrey Sarvis, Army veteran and executive director for Servicemembers Legal Defense Network.

“We owe a great deal of thanks to many Congressional leaders who got us here today -- Patrick Murphy, Susan Davis, Speaker Pelosi, and House Majority Leader Hoyer. In the Senate this would not have happened without Chairman Levin and Senators Lieberman, Mark Udall, Gillibrand, Collins and so many others. But let me also personally thank Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. This is the defining civil right initiative of this decade and today’s bill passage would not have been possible without Harry Reid’s determined leadership. And finally, without commitment and a clear plan from the White House for the Pentagon’s Comprehensive Review Working Group, we would not stand here today. I have no doubt the February testimony of Sec. Gates and Admiral Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, would not have happened without the President,” Sarvis said.

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 18, 2010
Trevor Thomas: (616) 430-2030 or trevor@sldn.org
Paul DeMiglio: (202) 621-5408 or paul@sldn.org

STILL AT RISK: Despite the U.S. House and U.S. Senate voting on repeal legislation, service members still cannot come out. “Don’t Ask” will remain the law even after the President signs the bill. 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 A SUCCESSFUL SENATE VOTE AND PRESIDENTIAL BILL SIGNING / SERVICE MEMBERS WILL REMAIN VULNERABLE
PRESIDENTIAL BILL SIGNING: 

• Even after a successful U.S. Senate vote and 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 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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