WASHINGTON – The Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization, released the following statement today from HRC President Joe Solmonese:
“Today is a historic step forward in repealing a shameful law that has harmed the military, discharged thousands of talented and patriotic Americans and prevented thousands more from serving their country.
Don't Ask, Don't Tell has been unworkable from the start. When the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Secretary of Defense, who also served under President Bush, direct the military to mitigate the pace of discharges while moving toward implementation, we know that Don't Ask Don't Tell is on its way out.
Secretary Gates and Admiral Mullen made clear today that this military review is about how, not if this policy will be repealed despite the protest from vocal opponents on the Armed Services Committee. As the Secretary said in his opening statement, "The question before us is not whether the military prepares to make this change, but how best we prepare for it."
We applaud Chairman Levin's suggestion that the discharges be halted while this review is underway, and we urge the President and Congress to move quickly on this important first step.
We acknowledge and appreciate President Obama's leadership in bringing the military into line with his ideal. Make no mistake -- this would not have happened without his insistence. And we'll need more of that commitment in the months ahead.
Today's announcement blunts the day-to-day damage of Don't Ask, Don't Tell, but we call on Congress to rescind this law and give the Pentagon the full authority to close the books on this stain of discrimination. Finally, while we respect the view of our military leaders to limit this review to the military itself, we encourage the Secretary to include outside repeal advocates as well.
We will -- as we always have -- work in partnership with the Obama Administration and our allies on the Hill as we continue to work toward full and final repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell.”