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Gillibrand, Shaheen Lead on Benefits, Call on Panetta to Act

For immediate release:
Monday, January 28, 2013

Contact: Zeke Stokes at
202-621-5406 or zeke@outserve-sldn.org

Gillibrand, Shaheen Call on Panetta to Extend Benefits Before Tenure Ends
Robinson: After two years of delay, it’s time for Pentagon to act

(WASHINGTON, DC) Army Veteran and OutServe-SLDN Executive Director Allyson Robinson today praised Senate Armed Services Committee members Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) for calling on Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta to end his two-year silence on extending recognition, support, and benefits to LGBT service members and their families as the law currently allows.

“We thank Senators Gillibrand and Shaheen for their tireless leadership on behalf of LGBT service members and families. After nearly two years of delay and equivocation that has hurt our service members and their families, it’s time for Secretary Panetta to, likewise, acknowledge the service and sacrifice of the gay and lesbian military families - who may now serve openly, but are still anything but equal - by immediately extending all benefits within his authority under existing law,” she said.

Gillibrand and Shaheen, strong advocates for equality in the armed forces, sent their letter to Panetta today calling for action.

“As Secretary, you have the power to extend certain important support programs for military families to all of our service members. In fact, the State Department, Office of Personnel and Management, and the Defense Department for its civilian employees have already extended certain benefits to their LGBT employees and their families,” Gillibrand and Shaheen write.

“Repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell was a critical step to ensuring that our military retains all of the best and brightest and does not discriminate against any Americans. But, the lack of equal benefits undermines those service members whose families are denied the programs offered for military families,” they write.

The letter released today is part of a growing call by the Congress and comes on the heels of a letter sent last week by Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) insisting on action by Panetta to extend benefits where possible.

OutServe-SLDN has been calling on Panetta to act on this issue for more than two years. For a complete list of benefits that may be extended now, click here.

ABOUT OUTSERVE-SLDN: OutServe-SLDN is the association of actively serving LGBT military personnel with more than fifty chapters and 6000 members around the world It works to support a professional network of LGBT military personnel and create an environment of respect in the military with regard to sexual orientation and gender identity. It is a non-partisan, non-profit, legal services and policy organization dedicated to bringing about full LGBT equality to America's military and ending all forms of discrimination and harassment of military personnel on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. OS-SLDN provides free and direct legal assistance to service members and veterans affected by the repealed "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" law and the prior regulatory ban on open service, as well as those currently serving who may experience harassment or discrimination. For more information, visit www.outserve-sldn.org.

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