Tuesday, November 23, 2010

No Discharges Under DADT in Over A Month

While pressure still needs to be put on the US Senate to pass a repeal of DADT, some good news has arrived for folks who believe you shouldn't face discrimination just because of who you love. There hasn't been anyone dismissed from the armed forces due to their sexual orientation in a month. Although the Pentagon isn't ready to admit this is the reason, public support for repeal and an Oct. 21 decision from Secretary Gates to only allow the secretaries of the various military branches sign off on DADT dismissals are likely responsible for the lack of new discharges.
Based on historical trends, however, it appears the change, as well as moves by Gates and President Barack Obama to get Congress to repeal "don't ask, don't tell," has caused discharge rates to fall dramatically, said Aaron Belkin, executive director of the Palm Center, a pro-repeal think tank based at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

"Statistically, it would be extremely unlikely if we had a month in which there were no gay discharges," Belkin said, noting that 428 gay and lesbian service members were honorably discharged under the ban in 2009. "When you require a service secretary to sign off on a discharge, you are basically saying, 'We don't want any people in this category discharged unless there is an exceptional situation.'"
This is a good sign in two regards: 1)Nobody has been forced out of the military due to bigotry and discrimination in a month and 2)public opinion and the efforts of repeal advocates seem to be making a difference. While action needs to be taken extremely quickly if we want to see repeal during the lame duck session, this news does give a little bit more hope than we had a few days ago.

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