(WASHINGTON, D.C.) Today, Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN) launched an online petition calling on President Barack Obama to issue an executive order prohibiting discrimination and harassment in the armed forces based on sexual orientation and gender identity. SLDN first urged the President to issue such an order in a February letter, recommending that the order go into effect on the date of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" (DADT) repeal, now set for Tuesday, September 20, 2011. SLDN renewed its call for the order last week, when the President, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Michael Mullen, issued formal certification to the Congress that the military is ready for repeal. The order would give LGBT service members recourse outside their chain of command if they are experiencing discrimination or harassment.
"Signing legislation that allows for repeal of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' was an historic milestone, and we appreciate the President's leadership and commitment in making that happen. But repeal alone is not sufficient for ensuring equality in the military. Today, we invite advocates for equality to join us in calling on the President to issue this order. Every service member deserves equal respect in the work environment, and it's critical that gay and lesbian service members have the same avenues for recourse as their straight counterparts when it comes to discrimination and harassment," said Army Veteran and SLDN Executive Director Aubrey Sarvis.
The petition is conducted through Change.org and is available at the following link:
STILL AT RISK: Despite the certification issued July 22, 2011, it is still unsafe for service members to come out until September 20, 2011, when repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" will become final. Click here to read our warning to service members.
SLDN FREE HOTLINE: Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender service members with questions are urged to contact the SLDN hotline to speak with a staff attorney: 202-328-3244 x100.
ABOUT SLDN: Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN) was established in 1993 when "Don't Ask" originally passed. In addition to working on repeal, SLDN offers free, confidential legal services to those impacted by the discriminatory law. We have received more than 11,000 calls for assistance to our legal hotline.