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Military Leaders to Congress: Act Now to Repeal 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell'

Press Release

Location: Washington, DC

A growing number of former and current military leaders are encouraging Congress to act now and repeal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell,' a policy which has led to the discharge of over 13,500 troops simply because they are gay. Congressman Patrick Murphy (D-PA) introduced an amendment that dismantles "Don't Ask, Don't Tell' only after the Pentagon completes its review process and military leaders certify that repeal does not harm military readiness.

Former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General John M.D. Shalikashvili, USA (Ret.), stressed the need for immediate Congressional action in a letter today. He affirmed that the Murphy Amendment "fully and affirmatively respects the [Pentagon's] Working Group process" and stated that Congress needs to act now in order to give military leaders the authority to implement the results of the study group.

"In short," wrote Gen. Shalikashvili, "it is not only preferable, but essential, that [Don't Ask, Don't Tell] be repealed in order for the Service Chiefs to retain the very authority they require to do their jobs effectively."

Admiral Mullen emphasized a similar theme in remarks he gave yesterday to servicemembers at Peterson Air Force Base, where he said he was comfortable with the proposed legislation because it includes "very clear language" that gives senior leaders the final say in whether it's implemented. Adm. Mullen has previously expressed support for repeal in testimony before Congress, in which he stated that the issue "comes down to a matter of integrity -- theirs as individuals and ours an institution."

And in a letter to Members of Congress leading the fight for repeal, over a dozen high-ranking retired military leaders drove home the message that every day the policy remains in place is another day that we lose able-bodied troops willing to serve their country. "The time has come," they wrote, "be true to our shared American values and let our troops serve openly, without fear of discrimination or reprisal. It is the right decision for our national security and our military."

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