Highest Ranking Veteran in Congress Calls for Repeal of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell'

Philadelphia Congressman Among 17 Veterans Co-Sponsoring Repeal


May 05, 2008, 01:00 ET from Servicemembers Legal Defense Network

    WASHINGTON, May 5 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Congressman Joe Sestak
 (D-PA), the highest ranking military veteran in Congress, on Saturday urged
 fellow lawmakers to join him in repealing the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" law
 banning lesbian, gay and bisexual personnel from serving openly in the
 military. Sestak, who had served as a three-star Admiral and who spent
 thirty-one years in the Navy is one of seventeen veterans in Congress who
 are co-sponsors of legislation to lift the ban on openly gay service.
 Sestak's remarks came before a panel discussion hosted by Equality Forum on
 the topic of congressional developments in the movement to repeal "Don't
 Ask, Don't Tell."
     "Veterans like Admiral Sestak, who have dedicated their lives to
 serving this country, are leading the movement in Congress to repeal 'Don't
 Ask, Don't Tell," said Aubrey Sarvis, executive director for Servicemembers
 Legal Defense Network (SLDN). "These lawmakers agree with senior military
 officers, including former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff John
 Shalishkashvili and retired Army Major General Vance Coleman, that when it
 comes to defusing IEDs, tending to injured troops, deciphering enemy codes
 and flying reconnaissance missions -- sexual orientation is irrelevant.
 Seventy-nine percent of the American people agree with them and it is time
 that Congress finally repeal this law."
     "It is easy for me to see why 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' should be
 repealed," said Sestak. "Once you have served in war and faced danger with
 a gay service member, how can you come home and say gay people should not
 enjoy equal rights? It is simple. 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' must be
     The Military Readiness Enhancement Act (H.R. 1246), which would repeal
 "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" and allow lesbian, gay and bisexual personnel to
 serve openly, is currently cosponsored by 142 Members of Congress,
 including veterans Peter DeFazio (D-OR), William Delahunt (D-MA), John
 Dingell (D-MI), Wayne Gilchrest (R-MD), Phil Hare (D-IL), Maurice Hinchey
 (D-NY), Jim McDermott (D-WA), Patrick Murphy (D-PA), Bill Pascrell (D-NJ),
 Charles Rangel (D-NY), Bobby Rush (D-IL), Jose Serrano (D-NY), Joe Sestak
 (D-PA), Pete Stark (D-CA), Mike Thompson (D-CA), Edolphus Towns (D-NY). For
 more information on the legislation and "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," visit
     Servicemembers Legal Defense Network is a national, non-profit legal
 services, watchdog and policy organization dedicated to ending
 discrimination against and harassment of military personnel affected by
 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' and related forms of intolerance. For more
 information, visit www.sldn.org.
     CONTACT: Victor Maldonado
     (202) 328-3244, ext. 123

SOURCE Servicemembers Legal Defense Network