Tuesday, November 15, 2005

New England Lawmakers Among More than 100 Members of Congress Calling for Repeal of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell'

To: National Desk
Contact: Steve Ralls of the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, 202-328-3244, ext. 116 or sralls@sldn.org
WASHINGTON, Nov. 15 /U.S. Newswire/ -- Fifteen members of Congress from New England are among the bi-partisan coalition of 102 Members of Congress supporting a bill to repeal the military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" ban on lesbian, gay and bisexual military personnel. The Military Readiness Enhancement Act (H.R. 1059), introduced in March by Congressman Marty Meehan (D-MA), has broad support from lawmakers from Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Vermont.
"New England's Congressional supporters represent a region rich with military history and service," said SLDN deputy director for policy and former Army Captain Sharon Alexander. "They are calling on Congress to put military readiness ahead of politics and repeal 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' once and for all. Connecticut's Naval Submarine Base at Groton, Hanscom Air Force Base in Massachusetts, Maine's Naval Air Station Brunswick, and the Naval War College in Rhode Island have all been home to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender patriots. Their service and sacrifice has made our nation more secure. Our nation's birthplace of liberty is leading the way in ensuring liberty for our patriots today."
Since 1993 the Department of Defense reports it has fired more than 10,000 men and women under the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" ban, including nearly 800 specialists with training in mission critical skills. According to the Government Accountability Office (GAO), the military's ban has cost more than $190 million to maintain.
"New England is home to more than 41,000 lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender veterans," Alexander said. "Among all states, Vermont has the highest per capita gay veteran population in the nation. SLDN encourages those veterans, and their heterosexual colleagues, to also speak up in favor of allowing gay Americans to serve openly. Nearly 8 out of 10 Americans support repealing the gay ban, and Congress should heed their guidance."
SLDN staff members will be in Rhode Island and Maine in November and December, meeting with veterans and community activists as part of a grassroots campaign to mobilize support for the Congressional legislation. For more information on SLDN's work to repeal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," visit http://www.sldn.org.
Servicemembers Legal Defense Network is a national, non-profit legal services, watchdog and policy organization dedicated to ending discrimination against and harassment of military personnel affected by 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' and related forms of intolerance. For more information, visit http://www.sldn.org.


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