The New York City Council held a hearing Jan 25 concerning a proposed resolution calling on the federal government to rescind its “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy and allow LGBT individuals to serve openly in the military.
Proposed Resolution 1170-A, which would follow a similar resolution passed by the Council in 2005, cites the unfairness, administrative costs, and talent drain of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy. Referring to changing attitudes about homosexuality among members of the military and the American public, the resolution expresses support for the Military Readiness Enhancement Act. This legislation, re-introduced in 2007 by former Congressman Marty Meehan (D-MA) with bipartisan support, would replace “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” with a policy of nondiscrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.
Openly gay and lesbian veterans who provided testimony for the hearing included Denny Meyer, president of American Veterans for Equal Rights New York; Cholene Espinoza, a pilot who flew U-2 missions for the Air Force; and former Navy petty officer Rhonda Davis, who was discharged after she came out on air to a 1010 WINS reporter at a 2006 marriage equality march across the Brooklyn Bridge. Meyer and Espinoza appear in the 2007 documentary Tell, director by Tom Murray, about the military ban.
The Servicemembers Legal Defense Network estimates that more than 11,000 military personnel have been discharged because of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, which was passed by Congress in 1993 and signed into law by President Clinton. A Blue Ribbon Commission Report by the University of California, Santa Barbara in 2006 calculated the total costs of the policy at more than $360 million.
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