12,000 military personnel discharged under the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT) policy will be honoured by gay rights organisations in the United States.
The Human Rights Campaign, Servicemembers United, Log Cabin Republicans, Servicemembers Legal Defense Network and Liberty Education Forum, will host a three-day tribute on the National Mall in Washington to recognise the 12,000 men and women kicked-out of the US military since the signing of DADT.
The law prohibits lesbian and gay soldiers from serving openly in the US military. The series of events is set to begin on Friday, November 30, the 14th anniversary of DADT being signed into law.
“Every year thousands of highly skilled gay, lesbian, bisexual servicemembers are discharged simply because of who they are,” said Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese.
“The vast majority of Americans, including the majority of servicemembers, support the right of gay, lesbian and bisexual servicemembers to serve openly and honestly. We must repeal this discriminatory policy and ensure that the U.S. Military can recruit and retain the best and the brightest troops regardless of their sexual orientation,” he said.
One flag, 12,000 in all, will be placed on the Mall for every discharged service member. In addition to recognising the 12,000 military personnel discharged under DADT, the event also aims to serve as a reminder of the hundreds of thousands unrecognised GLBT American soldiers who have fallen throughout the country’s history.
According to a recent Harris poll, 55 percent of Americans support repealing the Military’s DADT policy. A December 2006 Zogby poll of soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan found that 73 percent of soldiers reported being “comfortable … in the presence of gays,” and only 37 percent oppose repealing the policy.