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U.S.Congress

Lawmakers announce bill to repeal dishonorable discharges given to gay veterans

Friday, June 21, 2013

WASHINGTON — U.S. Reps. Mark Pocan (D-Wis.) and Charlie Rangel (D-N.Y.) on Friday proposed legislation that would ensure gay and lesbian service members who were discharged for no other reason than their sexual orientation would have their military records upgraded to reflect honorable service.

U.S. Reps. Mark Pocan (D-Wis.), left, and Charlie Rangel (D-N.Y.)

Since World War II to the repeal of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” in 2011, approximately 114,000 service members were discharged because of their sexual orientation.

Prior to the implementation of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” in 1993, most of those discharges were designated as dishonorable or “undesirable,” resulting in a loss of military benefits for those service members.

Under the proposed “Restore Honor to Service Members Act,” those discharges would be upgraded to “honorable,” provided there were no aggravating circumstances.

The “Restore Honor to Service Members Act” is about more than upgrading a piece of paper, accoding to a statement released by Pocan’s office:

Every form of discharge previously given out prior to the repeal of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” carries with it consequences that can follow a service member for his or her entire life.

In many states, a dishonorable discharge is treated as a felony, and service members receiving a general discharge, a lesser offense, can encounter grave difficulties acquiring civilian employment. All were barred from reenlisting in the military.

Depending on the discharge received, service members may also be blocked from voting, unemployment benefits, participating in the GI Bill or receiving veteran benefits such as health care, VA disability, and ceremonial burial rights at military cemeteries.

The bill would also close any remaining loopholes of discrimination against gay service members by reforming the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ), bringing it in line with current Supreme Court rulings.

At the moment, the UCMJ criminalizes acts of sodomy; the “Restore Honor to Service Members Act” would remove that provision as it relates to consensual acts of sodomy.

“As we celebrate the considerable progress we’ve made toward full equality in our military, we cannot forget about those who continue to suffer because of the discriminatory policies of our past,” said Pocan, co-chair of the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus.

“Our legislation ensures that gay veterans who selflessly served our country no longer live with tarnished records that prohibit them from receiving the recognition, benefits and honors they deserve. By enshrining the implementation of the ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ repeal into law, our country can finally close this dark chapter of our history and move forward,” Pocan said.

The bill is also supported by U.S. Rep. Steve Israel (D-N.Y.), who first hinted at the legislation at the Long Island Pride event earlier this month.

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35 more reader comments:

  1. This will NEVER pass the Homophobic House……

    Posted on Friday, June 21, 2013 at 5:28pm
  2. never say never.. Not in justin bieber’s words though… lol

    Posted on Friday, June 21, 2013 at 5:29pm
  3. This would be wonderful!!!

    Posted on Friday, June 21, 2013 at 5:30pm
  4. violence against women act did pass right?

    Posted on Friday, June 21, 2013 at 5:36pm
  5. No it didn’t…….

    Posted on Friday, June 21, 2013 at 5:36pm
  6. Struck down by the House…..

    Posted on Friday, June 21, 2013 at 5:37pm
  7. It will be a great thing when legislation sees this thru.

    Posted on Friday, June 21, 2013 at 5:37pm
  8. so in feival mousekawitz words then?

    Posted on Friday, June 21, 2013 at 5:38pm
  9. never know till we try !!!!

    Posted on Friday, June 21, 2013 at 5:41pm
  10. I hope this passes

    Posted on Friday, June 21, 2013 at 5:46pm
  11. You have my vote on that.

    Posted on Friday, June 21, 2013 at 6:14pm
  12. Hell yeah!

    Posted on Friday, June 21, 2013 at 6:20pm
  13. ’bout time!

    Posted on Friday, June 21, 2013 at 10:25pm
  14. now, that’s governing :)

    Posted on Saturday, June 22, 2013 at 6:33am
  15. wait for 2014

    Posted on Saturday, June 22, 2013 at 6:33am
  16. Fruit of the poisoned tree? Did I get that right, lawyers?

    Posted on Saturday, June 22, 2013 at 10:38am
  17. About time!

    Posted on Saturday, June 22, 2013 at 12:30pm
  18. About fuc*in time

    Posted on Saturday, June 22, 2013 at 12:50pm
  19. I hope it’s passed. o w o

    Posted on Saturday, June 22, 2013 at 3:35pm
  20. good idea

    Posted on Saturday, June 22, 2013 at 3:37pm
  21. Ridiculous anyone was discharged on the grounds of sexual orientation. A true black mark on this country’s history.

    Posted on Saturday, June 22, 2013 at 3:40pm
  22. This should have happened with the repeal of DADT! Shocked that it did not. They were all discharged on bogus grounds and that they were DIShonorably discharged for something so ridiculous as their sexuality? That is the REAL dishonorable thing.

    Posted on Saturday, June 22, 2013 at 3:42pm
  23. Finally!

    Posted on Saturday, June 22, 2013 at 4:02pm
  24. I am waiting for my honorable papers

    Posted on Saturday, June 22, 2013 at 4:33pm
  25. About feckin’ time!

    Posted on Saturday, June 22, 2013 at 5:09pm
  26. Oh cool. They announced it. When will they PASS it?

    Posted on Saturday, June 22, 2013 at 5:43pm
  27. Now, that’s true discrimination. It’s disgusting!

    Posted on Saturday, June 22, 2013 at 6:24pm
  28. Full time Charlie Rangel do something worthwhile

    Posted on Saturday, June 22, 2013 at 6:26pm
  29. we will never know how many gays died for this country over the years

    Posted on Saturday, June 22, 2013 at 7:32pm
  30. Thank you for serving your country Barry

    Posted on Saturday, June 22, 2013 at 8:13pm
  31. ‘Bout time!

    Posted on Saturday, June 22, 2013 at 8:48pm
  32. Ryan your more then welcome. Sorry it took so long to respond.

    Posted on Sunday, June 23, 2013 at 4:24am
  33. I was discharged in 1986 when a colleague turned me in to the NIS, effectively ending my Navy career. Just the title of the bill, “Restoring Honor to Service Members” gives me hope that the many LGBT veterans, who suffered terrible abuse and humiliation at the hands of the government we served, will one day have justice… and honor restored.

    Posted on Sunday, June 23, 2013 at 5:19am
  34. This goes back to 1968, but I did fight the Navy and had my papers changed from undesirable to general under honorable conditions, I would now like to see an honorable discharge papers. I would like them also to apologize for transferring two of us by gun point from one state to another. I would like the State of Rhode Island to also apologize for kicking me out of the state and telling they will arrest me if I come back.

    Posted on Sunday, June 23, 2013 at 6:40am
  35. this is one of the BEST moves made by lawmakers! they had better damn repeal those dishonorable discharges! it was an atrocity to happen in the first place!

    Posted on Sunday, June 23, 2013 at 7:52am