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Even During Two Wars, Gays Continue to Be Discharged from Military

When Needed Most, Critical Personnel Fired Under "Don't Ask, Don't Tell"

(Washington, DC)--The Servicemembers Legal Defense Network released new Pentagon data of service members discharged under the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" law. The Pentagon confirms 633 gay and lesbian service members were discharged in FY 2008.

"The 633 men and women fired include troops with valuable skills," said Aubrey Sarvis, executive director of Servicemembers Legal Defense Network. "We hope the Obama administration and Congress realize this is wasted talent they could have access to-particularly now, today, as the Administration is reportedly considering increasing deployments to Afghanistan by another 10,000. If openly gay service members are ready, willing, and able to go hunt down and kill Al Qaeda, why are we stopping them?"

2008 discharges included 86 members of the Air Force, 286 members of the Army, 21 members

The trend in DADT discharges remains unchanged since 1994 when the law was enacted. The number of gay discharges drops during times of war and increases during times of relative peace.

"The trend continues to show that when the Pentagon needs skilled manpower, they retain gay and lesbian service members," said Sarvis. "When they don't need these gay patriots as much, they are more likely to get fired."

Every scientific study on the impact of openly gay people on unit cohesion, morale, and good order has the same conclusion: There is no negative impact. And twenty four other countries, including Great Britain and Israel, have lifted their bans on gays and lesbians, who now serve openly without incident.

Another staggering loss to this nation: the estimated 4,000 gay people who choose not to enlist or re-enlist because of DADT.
DADT hearings are tentatively scheduled in the House of Representatives and U.S. Senate this fall. SLDN continues to urge Congress to begin debate in earnest this fall and to get a bill to the President's desk.