July 2, 2008
US army lesbians disproportionately affected by ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ law
Women make up only 15% of the armed forces in the USA, but they account for nearly half of the ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ discharges, according to research from the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN).
“‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ is often used as a weapon of vengeance against service members,” says SLDN executive director Aubrey Sarvis. “Women in particular have been caught in the crosshairs of this counterproductive law.”
‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ is the name for the US ban on openly gay armed forces members.
According to statistics obtained from the Pentagon for Fiscal Year 2007, in 2007 women accounted for 14% of the Army’s active duty force, while making up 46% of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ (DADT) discharges. In the Air Force women make up 20% of the force, but were 49% of DADT discharges.
In 2007 at least 627 male and female military personnel were dismissed on DADT, up from 612 in 2006.
“Our nation is safer and more secure because of the contributions made by all women, including lesbian and bisexual women, in the armed forces,” said Commander Zoe Dunning, USNR (Ret.) and SLDN Board Co-chair.
“The time has come for the Pentagon and military leaders to recommend Congress repeal ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.’ The ban disrupts troop morale and weakens unit cohesion by forcing commanders in Iraq and Afghanistan, and around the world, to separate qualified and well trained personnel for no other reason than they are suspected of being gay,” added Dunning.
In April the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee reported that the US army is allowing rapists, terrorists and paedophiles to become soldiers while still refusing openly gay people in its ranks.
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