Langevin Calls for End to “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”

Mar 2, 2005

(Washington, D.C.)–Congressman Jim Langevin has joined over 30 of his House colleagues as an original cosponsor of the Military Readiness Enhancement Act. The bill would replace the military’s current policy of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT) with a policy of nondiscrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

“‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ has proven to be costly and ineffective,” said Congressman Langevin, a member of the House Armed Services Committee. “At a time when our Guard and Reserves are being asked to make enormous sacrifices by serving extended deployments, we should not be discharging qualified service members who are willing to defend their nation.”

DADT has been the official standard conduct for homosexuals serving in the military since 1993, preventing gays and lesbians from being asked about or disclosing their sexuality. In the war on terrorism, the military stands alone in maintaining this policy – gay and lesbian agents of the CIA, FBI, Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), and Secret Service all may serve openly. Within the global community, 25 nations already allow open service, including Great Britain, Australia, Canada and Israel. U.S. troops serve alongside openly gay service men and women in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

Since its inception, DADT has proven extraordinarily costly for the military and for American taxpayers. Approximately 10,000 service members have been discharged in the last ten years as a result of this policy, an average of 2-3 service members a day. Over 750 of these service members had language skills – such as Arabic, Korean, and Farsi – that are essential to the global war on terror. According to the Government Accountability Office, implementing DADT has cost the U.S. military at least $191 million over ten years.

“Why is our military paying for a policy that actually hinders its own effectiveness?” added Congressman Langevin. “Our military can and should apply those funds toward obtaining additional armored vehicles, supplying our troops with much-needed body armor, and investing in other force protection initiatives.”

The Military Readiness Enhancement Act is supported by a number of organizations including the Log Cabin Republicans, the Human Rights Campaign, and the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network. Polling data show that 63%-79% of Americans support open service.