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GLBT Community Responds to Obama's Pledge on "Don't Ask, Don't Tell"

January 28, 2010

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Some civil rights activists are applauding President Obama's State of the Union pledge to work toward repealing the Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy that prohibits gay soldiers, sailors, air-men and -women from revealing their sexual orientation and remaining in the military.

Heather Draper, communications and marketing manager for the GLBT Community Center of Colorado, says the policy is not only discriminatory and unjust, it's also a burden on the military and taxpayers.

"American taxpayers spend more than $30 million each year to train replacements for gay troops who are discharged under Don't Ask, Don't Tell."

Draper says many Americans have been directly affected by Don't Ask, Don't Tell.

"It forces them either to live in the closet, or they don't feel safe. Hopefully, the repeal of this will allow them to serve proudly and safely."

24 foreign militaries, including Israel, Canada and Great Britain, have lifted their own bans on gay troops without any difficulty, she adds. Proponents of the rule say it is important for the day-to-day functioning of the military, but several officers, including a former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff have spoken out against the policy. A repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell is expected to be included in the defense appropriation bill for the 2011 fiscal year.

Eric Mack/Craig Eicher, Public News Service - NY