Senator Joe Lieberman (I-Connecticut) introduced a bill on Wednesday to repeal the ban on openly gay service members in the military.
The current law, dubbed “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” calls for service members to be discharged if they disclose that they are homosexual.
Lieberman introduced the Military Readiness Enhancement Act, legislation that would lift the ban and prohibit discrimination against gay service members.
The law “is inconsistent with our most important national values and diminishes our military readiness,” Lieberman told reporters.
Leading Senate Democrats pledged to move quickly to repeal the ban on gays serving openly in the armed forces rather than wait, as the Pentagon has requested, for the military to complete a lengthy review.
Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl M. Levin (D-Mich.) said he expects his panel to take up the measure in May as part of the annual defense authorization bill.
The Pentagon and congressional Republicans have urged Democrats to allow the military to first complete its study of the policy and the impact of a potential repeal. The study is expected to be completed by Dec. 1
Meanwhile, Lieberman and Levin have called for a moratorium on further dismissals of gays under the current law while the Pentagon conducts its review.
The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, strongly endorsed President Obama’s plan to end the ban, and said the current law “forces young men and women to lie about who they are in order to defend their fellow citizens.”
In his State of the Union address on January 27, Obama called on Congress to repeal the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy. More than 13,000 members of the military have been discharged since the law was enacted in 1993.
Photo credit: Jeff Sheng.