Representative Patrick Murphy, Veterans Announce Efforts To Repeal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell"
Congressman Patrick Murphy (D-PA, 8th District) today joined veterans and policy advocates to announce taking the lead on H.R. 1283, the Military Readiness Enhancement Act, the Congressional effort to overturn the policy known as "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" at a National Press Club "Newsmakers" event. The law, passed by Congress in 1993, prohibits gay, lesbian, and bisexual individuals from serving openly in the U.S. Armed Forces. The MREA would repeal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell", which compromises national security and military readiness at a time when the U.S. is engaged in two wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Rep. Murphy was joined at the event by gay, lesbian and straight veterans, including Eric Alva, the first veteran wounded in the Iraq War, Genevieve Chase, a veteran of Operation Enduring Freedom and the founder and executive director of American Women Veterans, Jarrod Chlapowski, a former U.S. Army Korean linguist who opted to not re-enlist because of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell", Joan Darrah, a Navy captain and intelligence officer, and Alex Nicholson, a U.S. Army veteran fluent in Arabic discharged under DADT. Congressman Murphy was also joined at the event by advocates from the Human Rights Campaign, Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, and Servicemembers United. This week, HRC and Servicemembers United will begin a national tour to highlight how "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" compromises national security and hurts military readiness.
"Don't Ask, Don't Tell' clearly isn't working for our military, and it hinders national security and military readiness at a time when America is fighting in two wars in Iraq and Afghanistan," said Congressman Patrick Murphy. "My time in Iraq taught me that our military needs and deserves the best and the brightest who are willing to serve- and that means all Americans, regardless of their orientation. Discharging brave and talented servicemembers from our armed forces is contrary to the values that our military fights for and that our nation holds dear."
"We are very fortunate to have Rep. Murphy as the new lead on H.R. 1283," said Aubrey Sarvis, Executive Director of Servicemembers Legal Defense Network. "He brings his unique expertise as an Iraq veteran, his commitment to ending discrimination, and a passion for ending Don't Ask, Don't Tell.' This change in leadership should be a catalyst to re-dedicate our efforts to get 218 cosponsors so we can pass the bill."
"We applaud Rep. Murphy, a veteran of the Iraq war, for his leadership on repealing Don't Ask, Don't Tell' and his willingness to take on the fight for the LGBT community and our country's national security," said Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese. "Rep. Murphy's background as a war veteran makes him uniquely qualified to help lead this effort and work with the Administration to repeal this law. We look forward to ensuring that our military can recruit and retain the best and the brightest troops regardless of their sexual orientation. As this tour will highlight, poll after poll continues to show the vast majority of Americans, including the majority of active service members, support the right of gay and lesbian service members to serve openly and honestly."
Enacted in 1993, over 13,000 men and women in uniform have been discharged from the military under the policy known as "Don't Ask, Don't Tell", including 800 mission critical servicemembers such as medics, fighter pilots, and nearly 60 Arabic linguists. H.R. 1283, the Military Readiness Enhancement Act, would repeal the policy and allow Americans to serve their country openly, regardless of sexual orientation.