Legislation has been introduced that will give lesbian and gay soldiers immunity if they are called to appear before Congress to give evidence on the current Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy.
Put in place in 1993, this policy has acted to allow gay and lesbian soldiers to serve in the US military, on the condition their sexual orientation is kept secret, and is one that has been strictly adhered to with around 13,000 soldiers having been dismissed in that time.
Speaking about this new legislation, Florida Democrat Alice Hastings, said that it was necessary that it was put in place to ensure those who spoke at hearings could do so without fear of losing their jobs, telling the Associated Press: “How can there be anything more important than a gay member of the service having the right to testify before the Armed Services Committee of the Congress that he is under the aegis of?”
The introduction of the legislation is also seen as a positive move by Dr Nathaniel Frank, the senior research fellow at The Palm Centre, which has done extensive research on the ban, with him commenting that “When the House and Senate evaluate the effectiveness of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ next year, they will need to hear from those most affected by the law… If current gay troops are not allowed to testify honestly, the quality of deliberations will suffer.”
This bill doesn’t though just cover LGBT service people, but also cover straight personnel and those speaking for the bill as well as against it.
President Barack Obama and his defence secretary Robert Gates have both promised to repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, but have not hinted at when this would come into action, with two recent attempts to suspend or reduce the harshness of the ban blocked by Congress and the White House.