U.S. Representative Ellen O. Tauscher (D-CA) introduced a bill on March 2 to repeal the ban on gays and lesbians serving openly in the military, Politico.com reported.
Tauscher carries the Military Readiness Enhancement Act, which would repeal the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy that prohibits gay and lesbian service members from disclosing their sexual orientation or engaging in homosexual acts. The legislation currently has 144 bipartisan co-sponsors.
Although Democratic President Barack Obama pledged to repeal the policy during his campaign, and Democrats now control both the House and Senate, the focus on an economic recovery agenda likely makes the military ban a less attractive issue for the new commander-in-chief. Recent squabbles over the economic stimulus package already have shown partisan rancor between Obama and the more conservative Republican leadership on Capitol Hill.
According to the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, almost 13,000 men and women have been discharged under Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell since President Clinton instituted it in 1993. Since then, many military officials who formerly supported the ban have announced that gays and lesbians should be allowed to serve openly.