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SLDN: White House Transmittal of Defense Budget to Congress Does Not Include Repeal of DADT

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 14, 2010

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

White House Transmittal of Defense Budget to Congress Does Not Include Repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”; Gay Service Member Returning to Baghdad Writes Letter to President Obama
Repeal advocates are now within days of key votes

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 on President Barack Obama’s most recent transmittal to Congress of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2011. The transmittal as sent does not include repeal language of DADT. SLDN has been pushing the President to include repeal in his defense budget proposal as a signal the Administration supports repealing the law this year.

“It is now becoming painfully clear that the President will not include the repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ in his defense budget transmittals to Congress,” said Aubrey Sarvis, executive director for Servicemembers Legal Defense Network. “This is his second defense bill without a call for repeal. But there is still an opportunity for the President to engage, and we hope he will seize it soon. We urgently need his help in reconciling the differences between the Pentagon and the Hill on the repeal timeline, and he can also begin asking Members of Congress to vote for repeal this year.”

SLDN also released a letter today addressed to the President by an active duty service member returning to Baghdad. The service member is also under investigation after recently being “outed” that he is gay. SLDN has confirmed the authenticity of the letter.

“Mr. President, my unit is extremely undermanned. We’re working around the clock in Baghdad. My commander informed me that the Army cannot afford to lose me. I was told that they would prepare my discharge paperwork, ‘stick it in a manila envelope, and keep it in a desk -- for now.’ One moment they wanted to throw me out and the next they are hiding evidence to keep me in,” said the service member in a letter to President Barack Obama.

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” is a new media campaign that underscores the urgent need for congressional action and presidential leadership at this critical point in the fight to repeal DADT. More than 43 blogs and websites are currently highlighting the letters. You can read each letter by visiting: www.sldn.org/letters.

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 Friday, 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.”

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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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