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A veteran's take on "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" hearings

Yesterday we witnessed an exciting hearing in the Senate Armed Services Committee on the discriminatory Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy with some notable remarks from the nation’s two top military leaders. Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said the military would undergo a year-long process to review how to implement a change. Adm. Mullen said,

“No matter how I look at the issue, I cannot escape being troubled by the fact that we have in place a policy which forces young men and women to lie about who they are in order to defend their fellow citizens.”

I welcome his comments as a step towards equality, but like President Obama’s reassurances during his State of the Union Speech are insufficient.

In the same breath, Adm. Mullen recognized that it is unfair to ask LGBT Americans to defend their brothers and sisters while simultaneously asking them to continue to live a lie for another year.

As a Veteran of the United States Marine Corps, I think that it is a shame to ask service members to wait on a study until they receive the same benefits and are able to live openly as their heterosexual counterparts are able to do. There are more than enough studies on the issue. I hope that we don’t have to wait a whole year to do something we know needs to be done now. The armed forces must immediately stop discharging servicemembers for being LGBT.

Equality California is currently sponsoring a resolution that would put the state of California on record against the ban on out service members. It already passed the Senate and hopefully will proceed smoothly through the Assembly this year. From time to time, we may need you to stand up and make your voice heard to your legislators.