Repealing "Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell" Focus of Sunday’s Community Meeting
What to expect at the meeting…
When: Sunday, May 30, 5-6:30 PM
Where: Gay Community Center of Richmond
Ben Mishkin, SLDN Grassroots Organizer & Policy Advocate, will share information about advocacy work the organization is engaged in and grassroots work that can be done.
Darren Manzella, SLDN Policy Advocate, is an Iraq war veteran kicked out under DADT and will share his personal experience.
Emily Heck, SLDN Legal Director, will talk about the legal services that the organization offers. The organization continues to help servicemen and women discharged under DADT.
Tracy Thorne-Begland, Deputy Commonwealth Attorney for the City of Richmond, came out as an openly gay naval officer in the early 90s and was discharged from the Navy. He shares his story.
A Q&A Session follows.
Since Obama took office, there have been 221 military discharges from “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” That’s a small fraction of the nearly 13,000 servicemen and women affected since the policy hit in 1993.
Ben Mishkin, grassroots organizer and policy advocate for Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, says after eight years of a tough political climate regarding Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT), there’s a new energy surrounding the policy. According to a July 2008 poll by ABC News and The Washington Post, 75% of Americans favor gays serving openly.
“I think a lot of people have high hopes for the Obama administration taking action on repeal,” Mishkin says. “Throughout the campaign and transition, the President was very clear on his commitment and reiterated that as he came into office.”
It’s repealing DADT that’s bringing Mishkin and the SLDN to the Gay Community Center of Richmond for a community meeting on Sunday night.
Mishkin says the only way to completely get rid of DADT is through new legislation. A new bill is gaining cosponsors in the House – HR1283, the Military Readiness and Enhancement Act. The section by section act would repeal DADT and replace it with non-discrimination so gay men, bisexuals, or lesbians can serve openly in the military.
They would be subject to the same codes of conduct as straight service people and could serve openly.
“Right now, as the legislation stands, if anyone is caught engaging in homosexual conduct they get kicked out,” Mishkin says. “Under this new legislation, homosexual conduct on its own wouldn’t be grounds for discharge.”
In addition, the organization plans to put a bill into the Senate and is asking President Obama to lead the way to let people know he’d like to see the legislation move forward.
“We’re encouraging our supporters to reach out to their legislators back home to continue to build support so we can send a clear signal that this is bill that we want in action,” Mishkin says.
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