The Chicago City Council approved, without objection, a resolution calling for repeal of the military's 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' ban on LGBT personnel July 27. The council unanimously approved the resolution urging Congress to pass the Military Readiness Enhancement Act, a bill pending in Congress to repeal the military's ban and allow lesbian and gay Americans the opportunity to serve openly.
In urging the council to pass the measure, Ald. Tom Tunney, D-44th Ward, noted that passing the resolution would be in keeping with the political body's stance on past issues. 'We owe it to our Chicago servicemembers to stand up for rights they possess here, and have those most basic values follow them into the military,' he said. Tunney added that ' [ d ] iscrimination based on sexual orientation is out of touch with mainstream society. The corporate world has accepted this and it's time for the military to do the same.'
Among the attendees at the meeting were Jean Albright, who served in the Air Force for 20 years and is a board member of the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network and on staff at Windy City Times; Jim Darby, president of the local chapter of American Veterans for Equal Rights; Bill Greaves, director/community liaison of the City of Chicago Commission on Human Relations' Advisory Council on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Issues; and Will Schmutz, director/community liaison of the Chicago Commission on Human Relations Advisory Council on Veterans' Affairs.
On July 12, these individuals, along with Dr. Jose Zuniga and John D. Moore ( via letter ) , testified in favor of the resolution in front of the City Council's Committee on Human Relations.
When asked how she felt about the passing of the resolution, Albright could hardly contain her enthusiasm. 'I'm just very proud of Chicago for being the first Midwestern voice to speak up on the side of reason,' she said. 'I wish I had known during my 20 years closeted in the military that I would be anywhere around [ when something like this happened ] and that I would be in a room discussing changes and see it go through.'
According to the SLDN Web site, the Chicago measure follows similar resolutions adopted by the New York, West Hollywood and San Francisco city councils. Earlier this year, a statewide resolution calling for an end to the 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' law was introduced in the California state legislature. The bill is supported by 90 members of Congress, including Illinois Democrats Danny Davis, Luis Gutierrez, Jesse Jackson, Jr., and Jan Schakowsky.
In a related story, a report released July 25 revealed that if the 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' policy were repealed, the armed forces could relieve a critical troop shortage.
According to 365Gay.com, the report, prepared by the Williams Project at the UCLA School of Law and released by SLDN, shows that without the ban, the military could expect to see 41,000 new recruits. This result comes as the Pentagon admits it will not meet its recruiting goal this year for the first time since 1999.
The Williams Project based its analysis on data from the 2000 census, according to Gary J. Gates, senior research fellow at the UCLA School of Law. Gates has previously estimated there are 65,000 lesbian and gay Americans currently serving in the forces.
Earlier this year, the Government Accountability Office issued a report showing that the military policy has cost taxpayers more than $200 million since its inception in 1993. More than 10,000 service members have been discharged over the last 10 years under the policy, according to SLDN's statistics.