News (USA)

California passes law to help LGBTQ veterans discharged under “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” get benefits

Gov. Gavin Newsom
Gov. Gavin Newsom Photo: Screenshot

A new California law will help LGBTQ veterans who were discharged under “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” have better access to benefits.

A.B. 325, signed on Saturday by Gov. Gavin Newsom (D), creates the Veteran’s Military Discharge Upgrade program. With that, LGBTQ people who were “other than honorably discharged,” as Newsom put it, due to their gender or sexuality can more easily correct their status.

In a recorded statement, Newsom celebrated the law’s passage and explained that after President Barack Obama rescinded “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell,” the Department of Defense created a way for veterans who had become victims of this policy to update their records and reestablish their eligibility for benefits.

“But many veterans, sadly, don’t know or can’t even access this important process… We’re taking steps to fix this. We’re laying the groundwork for a brand new grant program to help those heroes access a full suite of benefits that they’ve earned and they deserve.”

Newsom also touted that A.B. 325 is bipartisan.

Repealed by Obama in 2010, “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” was a 1993 policy signed by President Bill Clinton that instructed gay and bisexual people in the military to hide their identities.

Over 13,000 people were discharged for violating it, the Williams Institute found.

In a written statement, Gov. Newsom said the new law, which was sponsored by Assemblymember Jacqui Irwin (D), “will help these heroes navigate the process to correct the record and access important benefits they deserve and have earned many times over.”

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