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Wyoming Families Watch DC “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” Hearing

July 23, 2008

Jackson, WY – The military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy is turning 15 years old. For the first time, Congress is reviewing how the policy has affected the armed services; a hearing is being held today.

Steve Ralls with Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, which has chapters in Wyoming, says part of the hearing will focus on the ban's impact on families, and how the military has reportedly lost thousands of service members, including hundreds with skills deemed "mission critical," such as proficiency in the Arabic language.

"The ban undermines the military's ability during a time of war to recruit and retain qualified service personnel."

Ralls says controversy over sexual orientation has faded as the focus on keeping a strong and qualified military has grown.

"There are 65,000 lesbian and gay service members, and the armed forces could attract an additional 40,000 service members if they were to lift the ban."

Those who support the ban on openly gay relationships within the military say it helps promote morale and discipline in the armed forces. Both sides will testify today before the Personnel Subcommittee of the House Armed Services Committee.

Deborah Smith/Steve Powers, Public News Service - WY