Lamm Urges Repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell
ABA President Carolyn B. Lamm is urging Congress to repeal “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell,” the federal statute subjecting gay, lesbian or bisexual servicemembers to discharge if they disclose their sexual orientation.
In letters to the leadership of both the Senate and House of Representatives, Lamm said the harm the ABA anticipated when it opposed the legislation in 1993 has come to pass. More than 13,000 men and women have been dismissed from service, including highly trained specialists like pilots, sharpshooters and translators, she said.
Lamm said the ABA has “remained sensitive to the special status of our armed forces and their leadership who must use the tools at their disposal to maintain order and discipline.” Members who are current and former judge advocates and judges have helped the association “appreciate the importance of troop morale and cohesion as elements of battle-readiness,” she noted. But the policy, contrary to its asserted purpose, “appears already to have hampered military readiness by requiring the dismissal of hundreds of highly trained and skilled personnel,” she said.
Lamm cited the ABA’s “long tradition of actively opposing discrimination, such as the intolerable denial of a person’s civil rights based on solely his or her identity as a member of a minority group,“asserting the statute established discrimination“ not based on the character of the servicemember’s contribution to the national defense.”
In a separate letter to Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates, Lamm acknowledged that “many collateral matters will have to be sorted out upon the implementation of repeal.” She commended the “careful consideration” with which the department is exploring implementing repeal, and pledged the association’s readiness to assist in developing a plan to deal with those matters.