Courage Campaign, Lt. Dan Choi collect 458,039 letters of support to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” as President Obama, Pentagon and Congress consider ending military’s discriminatory policy

Rick Jacobs: “It is not enough for the President, the Pentagon and Congress to ponder change. While thousands of American soldiers continue to fear a military witch hunt, it is more important than ever that President Obama uses the power of his office to ensure ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ is repealed this year, as he promised.”

Lt. Dan Choi: “By asking America’s service members to lie, ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ forces soldiers like me to break military code at the most fundamental level. The people in my unit do not have a problem serving alongside me and it’s time for our leaders to catch up. Don’t wait. Don’t delay. We need a full repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,’ now.


LOS ANGELES – As the Senate Armed Services Committee hears testimony on Tuesday regarding the possible repeal of the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, the Courage Campaign and Lt. Dan Choi have now collected 458,039 letters of support from Americans calling for an immediate end to “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” The letters, gathered since May 2009, call on President Obama, Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the Army to end the policy quickly and expeditiously.

Despite the President’s call for an end to the discriminatory military policy “this year” during last week’s State of the Union Address, it is expected that Secretary Robert Gates and Admiral Mike Mullen will not ask for an immediate legal end to the policy during the Armed Services Committee hearing.

“It is not enough for the President, the Pentagon and Congress to ponder change,” said Rick Jacobs, Chair of the Courage Campaign. “While thousands of American soldiers continue to fear a military witch hunt, it is more important than ever that President Obama uses the power of his office to ensure ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ is repealed this year, as he promised.”

Jacobs continued, “The time for talk is over and the time for action is now. The president must lead. Poll after poll shows that a strong majority of the American public — regardless of party identification — supports repealing ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.’ President Obama needs to tell Congress that he wants the policy ended now, not at some date in the future.”

Since it was enacted in 1993, multiple research studies, including those performed by the University of California, Santa Barbara’s Palm Center, have demonstrated that “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” should be repealed.

“‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ contradicts the military honor code requiring those in uniform to tell the truth,” said Lt. Dan Choi, an Arabic language expert whose discharge is currently pending under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

Lt. Choi continued, “By asking America’s service members to lie, ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ forces soldiers like me to break military code at the most fundamental level. The people in my unit do not have a problem serving alongside me and it’s time for our leaders to catch up. Don’t wait. Don’t delay. We need a full repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,’ now.”

Internationally, policies like “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” continue to move to extinction. In the years that the U.S. Military has instituted the ban, many nations have expanded their military service to include lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender service members, and in some cases, have extended benefits to their partners. Among those nations is Israel, whose military is among the most active and effective on the planet. Not only do LGBT soldiers in Israel daily face combat situations, but their partners and loved ones are cared just like family members of heterosexual soldiers.

The Courage Campaign is continuing to collect signatures in support of Lt. Choi and the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” at:

http://www.couragecampaign.org/DontDelay

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The Courage Campaign is an online organizing network that empowers more than 700,000 grassroots and netroots activists to push for progressive change and full equality in California and across the country.

Rick Jacobs is the founder and chair of the Courage Campaign. He chaired Howard Dean’s presidential campaign in California. He is also the co-founder of Brave New Films and a featured contributor to Arianna Huffington’s Huffingtonpost.com. Rick has an extensive background as an international investor and senior executive.