Finally, we have a bill.
Just minutes ago, I stood with Senators Lieberman, Levin, Gillibrand, and Burris at a press conference and announced that we would be introducing the Military Readiness Enhancement Act of 2010 in the Senate to repeal the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy.
In a time of two wars, any policy that leads to the discharge of talented and capable troops threatens our national security and wastes resources. That's exactly what "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" has been doing for 17 years. And that's why, as a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee and original cosponsor of this bill, I'm proud to be leading the charge to finally -- and fully -- repeal this unfair and outmoded law.
Just last year, over 400 otherwise qualified troops, from Arabic translators to fighter pilots, were discharged for no reason other than their sexual orientation. That harms our national security, and it's why we need to make sure this bill passes.
This legislation accomplishes several key goals:
- Full repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." It will allow the Department of Defense to continue its study to determine the best way to implement the repeal, but ensures that the study remains dedicated to implementing repeal, not considering whether to repeal.
- Ends discharges for gay and lesbian servicemembers immediately. While the study period for implementation goes forward, no members of the Armed Forces will be discharged solely for their sexual orientation.
In other words, this bill ensures that we stop harming our military's effectiveness, but still takes a reasonable approach to ensure that the repeal is done in a responsible way. It's an excellent piece of legislation, but some opponents still claim it will spell disaster for our military.
The American people don't agree. In fact, the latest Quinnipiac Poll, released February 10, shows 57% of Americans supportive of repeal and only 36% opposed.
The wishes of the American people are clear, but some members of the Senate still believe our soldiers can't handle serving with openly gay and lesbian servicemembers. I couldn't disagree more.
That's why I'm asking you to join me in supporting this crucial legislation by becoming a citizen cosponsor to prove, once and for all, that Americans will no longer tolerate this unfair policy that hampers our fighting men and women.
Our Armed Forces are the best in the world, and it's high time we stopped handicapping them with "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." Please join me and voice your support for repealing this harmful policy, right now.