Event on National Mall Highlights Cost of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell"
(WASHINGTON, DC) – 12,000 Flags will fly on the National Mall this weekend to recognize the 12,000 men and women discharged from the military since the enactment "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." The law forces the military to fire any service member who is found to be gay or lesbian, prohibits talented and capable Americans from serving their country, and denies our military the personnel it needs to fill critical shortages within its ranks.
The series of events begins today, November 30, the 14th anniversary of the signing of the "Don't Ask, Don't tell" law, and will continue through Sunday, December 2nd. A coalition of organizations have been working together to arrange these events, including the Human Rights Campaign, Servicemembers United, Log Cabin Republicans, Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, and Liberty Education Forum. These organizations came together to implement this project to present a unified voice working to change "Don't Ask, Don't Tell".
Also announced today, 28 retired, high-ranking military leaders have signed onto a letter calling for the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell". The letter marks the single largest number of Generals and Admirals from the U.S. Armed Forces to come out against the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy at one time. The opinions of Flag Officers have played a critical role in shaping the policy on gay service. To view the letter go to: www.palmcenter.ucsd.edu.
Army veteran Alexander Nicholson, the Executive Director of Servicemembers United, spearheaded this effort. He's a former Army human intelligence collector and Arabic speaker who got kicked out of the military because of Don't Ask, Don't Tell. "Anyone who knows the modern military knows that our men and women in uniform are trained professionals who can do their jobs no matter what," Nicholson said. "'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' is unnecessary in the 21st century military and it wastes talent that the military desperately needs right now."
"Log Cabin is proud to stand with our allies to honor the 12,000 Americans who have been discharged under this law," said Log Cabin Republicans President Patrick Sammon. "'Our message with this event is simple: 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' harms our national security by disqualifying and discharging thousands of brave, patriotic Americans from serving our country – many with critical skills that we badly need to fight the war on terror."
"Our country is in a war and our military is in the midst of a crisis," said Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese. "Our men and women on the battlefield are overworked and under-supported. The armed forces are struggling to meet enlistment goals. What's the solution of our government? The military is still kicking out qualified gay, lesbian and bisexual service members. It's time to stop insulting the good men and women who want to serve their country – it is time to end 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell.'"
One flag will be placed on the National Mall for each discharged servicemember, approximately 12,000 in all. These flags will stand as a testament to the growing waste forced upon our military, our national security, and our country as a result of this discriminatory law.
"Too many brave men and women have been dismissed because of the unconscionable and un-American law we know as 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell,'" said Aubrey Sarvis, Executive Director of Servicemembers Legal Defense Network. "Every day, two service members are dismissed under this law. It undermines both our national security and our national commitment to liberty and justice for all. After 14 years, it is long past time for Congress to lift the ban. This remarkable exhibit on our National Mall vividly illustrates exactly why federally sanctioned discrimination is never in the best interests of our country. It is long past time to welcome America's lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender patriots to our armed forces."
The Military Readiness Enhancement Act, HR 1246, remedies this discriminatory and unworkable law by allowing people to serve our nation honestly and openly. Congressman Marty Meehan (D-MA) introduced the legislation this spring. Congresswoman Ellen Tauscher (D-CA) became the lead sponsor of MREA when Rep. Meehan retired. The bi-partisan bill has 137 cosponsors.