I have written a great deal about the need for the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell, particularly because of the damage it does in the Hampton Roads community with its very large number of military personnel - and far more gays in the military than many could even imagine.
People are forced to live a lie and are in constant fear of discovery. And many good, honorable men and women are forced from the military solely because of DADT, a policy ultimately based on religious discrimination - something that in my view makes a mockery of the U.S. Constitution's promise of freedom from religious based discrimination. Worse yet, despite the military's claims to the contrary, there ARE often witch hunts seeking to out LGBT servicemembers.
To highlight this travesty on Thursday, August 6, 2009, the "Voices of Honor: A Generation Under Don't Ask, Don't Tell" national tour hits Norfolk, Virginia, home of the world's largest naval base. I urge readers to try to make it to the event.
The tour is a partnership between the Human Rights Campaign and Servicemembers United, and is one part of a nationwide effort in the ongoing efforts to repeal DADT. The tour is intended to highlight the discriminatory Don't Ask, Don't Tell law that hurts military readiness and national security by requiring the dismissal of openly gay and lesbian service members wanting to proudly serve their country. Meanwhile, the U.S. military is enlisting gang members, individuals with felony convictions, and white supremacists into its ranks to reach its recruiting goals. The policy is clearly flawed, and puts all American military personnel fighting for our country in danger, and the entire country at risk.
There will be a Public Town Hall Discussion on DADT Thursday at 6:00PM at Nauticus, The National Maritime Center, Maritime Conference Room, 2nd Floor, One Waterside Drive, Norfolk, Virginia 23510. During this discussion, you'll be able to talk with gay, lesbian and straight individuals about the damaging effects of Don't Ask, Don't Tell.
DADT should have never been enacted in the first place, and it only serves to weaken our armed forces and the brave men and women fighting alongside each other for our country. Here's what the Human Rights Campaign says about the "Voices of Honor" national tour:
After more than 15 years, many former congressional and senior military leaders who were involved in the construction and implementation of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" have recently called for the law to be reviewed or repealed, including former Joint Chiefs Chairmen Gen. John Shalikashvili and Gen. Colin Powell, and former Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Sen. Sam Nunn (D-GA).
The Military Readiness Enhancement Act (H.R. 1283), which would repeal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," was introduced in the U.S. House earlier this year.
Passed in 1993, Don't Ask, Don't Tell allows gay, lesbian and bisexual military personnel to serve in the armed forces as long as their sexual orientation is not publicly disclosed or discovered.
As of 2008, more than 13,000 men and women have been fired from the military because of their sexual orientation, including more than 60 Arabic linguists and nearly 800 other service members in critical occupational fields.