Senator Joe Lieberman (ID-CT) today announced that nine additional United States Senators have joined as co-sponsors to the Military Readiness Enhancement Act (S. 3065). Senators John Kerry (D-MA), Richard Durbin (D-IL), Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Tom Udall (D-NM), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Bob Casey (D-PA), and Russ Feingold (D-WI) have signed on to the bill, which Senator Lieberman introduced with Senator Carl Levin (D-MI) and thirteen other original co-sponsors on March 1.
The Military Readiness Enhancement Act contains three main provisions: it will repeal the law that prevents gay Americans from openly serving in the military, prohibit discrimination against current and prospective service members on the basis of sexual orientation, and promote the ability of college students who wish to serve our country to join Reserve Officer Training Corps units at universities that currently prevent the establishment of ROTC units on campus.
"I am honored that nine more of my colleagues have decided to co-sponsor this bill, which will end discrimination against American soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines on the basis of their sexual orientation," said Senator Lieberman. "In recent weeks, the chiefs of each of our military services have told Congress that the repeal of "don't ask, don't tell' must increase military readiness and maintain the high standards of conduct we expect of our service members if it is to receive their support. I believe this bill will do just that, and look forward to working with Secretary Gates, Admiral Mullen, and the service chiefs to implement a new policy that supports our shared goals."
"We should be grateful for the bravery and sacrifice of our soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines - gay or straight - who defend our nation," said Senator Cardin, one of the original cosponsors of the Military Readiness Enhancement Act. "Sexual orientation, race, religion or gender, should never be used to determine the contributions any man or woman makes to our military. I am proud to stand with my colleagues in calling for the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell,' which runs contrary to the core American belief of equality."
"We're overdue to wipe away the last stain of legal discrimination in our Armed Services," said Senator Kerry. "Gays and lesbians should not have to hide who they are to be able to serve their country. President Obama, Admiral Mullen, Secretary Gates, former Secretary Powell, and - most importantly - our troops are speaking out, and it's past time we listened."
"It's long past time for us to end discrimination of our fighting men and women based on their sexual orientation," said Senator Durbin. "I'm pleased to join Senator Lieberman and many of my colleagues in the effort to repeal the Don't Ask Don't Tell policy once and for all."
"No American should be barred from serving in our military simply because of their sexual orientation," said Senator Lautenberg, an Army veteran. "It is time to recognize the incredible sacrifices being made by all of America's military men and women and the future contributions that will be made if we end the discriminatory "don't ask, don't tell' policy. Repealing "don't ask, don't tell' is the right thing to do and I will fight to see this outdated policy overturned."
"For almost two decades, "Don't Ask Don't Tell' has placed an unjust burden on qualified service members who are forced to hide who they are in order to defend our country," said Senator Tom Udall. "It's time to end this discriminatory policy that has kept too many patriotic Americans from serving our country."
"As we continue to fight two wars, our national security depends on a strong and talented military," said Senator Casey. "And ending this discriminatory practice is the right thing to do for our military and for those who want to openly serve their country. I am pleased to join my colleagues in the Senate, as well as the effort led by Patrick Murphy in the House that continues to draw the support of past and present military leaders and other officials."
"Discrimination has no place in American society, especially when it undermines our national security by hampering military readiness," said Senator Feingold. "The practice of preventing highly qualified, patriotic Americans from serving their country must end as soon as possible."