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Senate committee to hold hearings on 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell'

[JURIST] The US Senate Armed Services Committee [official website] announced [press release] Monday that it will hold hearings this fall to review the US military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy [10 USC § 654 text; HRC backgrounder]. Under the policy, openly gay servicemen and women are subject to discharge from the US military. Committee member Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) [official website] commented:

This policy is wrong for our national security and wrong for the moral foundation upon which our country was founded. I thank Chairman Levin for agreeing to hold this important hearing. Numerous military leaders are telling us that the times have changed. "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" is an unfair, outdated measure that violates the civil rights of some of our bravest, most heroic men and women. By repealing this policy, we will increase America's strength - both militarily and morally.

It is estimated that nearly 13,000 servicemen and women have been discharged since the policy's initiation in 1993. Gillibrand estimated [CBS News report] that the US military has spent more than $95 million replacing these individuals.

Last month, the US Supreme Court [official website] denied certiorari [JURIST report] to review the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy. In November 2008, more than 100 retired admirals and generals of the US military called for a repeal [JURIST report] of the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy. In June 2008, he US Court of Appeals for the First Circuit upheld [JURIST report] "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." The First Circuit's decision stands in stark contrast to a May 2008 ruling by the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, which held [JURIST report] that a soldier could not be dismissed on the basis of sexual orientation alone.

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