Mark Pocan | Military | News

Legislation Proposed to Restore Honor to Veterans Discharged from Military for Being Gay

U.S. Representatives Mark Pocan (D-WI, pictured) and Charlie Rangel (D-NY) on Wednesday announced legislation that would restore honor to gay and lesbian service members discharged from the military because of their sexual orientation by upgrading their records to reflect honorable service, Pocan's office announced on Wednesday:

PocanThe “Restore Honor to Service Members Act” is about more than upgrading a piece of paper. Every form of discharge previously given out prior to the repeal of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” carries with it consequences that can follow a service member for his or her entire life. While the character of discharge varied, many members received discharges that were classified as other than honorable or dishonorable, particularly prior to the implementation of the “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” policy in 1993.  In many states, a dishonorable discharge is treated as a felony, and service members receiving a general discharge, a lesser offense, can encounter grave difficulties acquiring civilian employment. All were barred from reenlisting in the military. Depending on the discharge received, service members may also be blocked from voting, unemployment benefits, participating in the GI Bill or receiving veteran benefits such as health care, VA disability, and ceremonial burial rights at military cemeteries.

The “Restore Honor to Service Members Act,” turns the current broad review policy outlined in a memo from the Under Secretary of Defense into clear and settled law. It ensures all services members who were previously discharged because of their sexual orientation receive a timely, consistent and transparent review of their records so that gay veterans who served honorably have their records rightfully upgraded to honorable.  It also removes any indication of a service member’s sexual orientation from the record, so they are not automatically “outed” to those accessing their record and protects against future discrimination by decriminalizing consensual relations between same sex couples, bringing military law in line with Supreme Court rulings.

Said Pocan:

“As we celebrate the considerable progress we’ve made toward full equality in our military, we cannot forget about those who continue to suffer because of the discriminatory policies of our past. Our legislation ensures that gay veterans who selflessly served our country no longer live with tarnished records that prohibit them from receiving the recognition, benefits and honors they deserve. By enshrining the implementation of the “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” repeal into law, our country can finally close this dark chapter of our history and move forward.”

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  1. GOOD. .about bloody time

    Posted by: Little Kiwi | Jun 21, 2013 2:50:23 PM

  2. Excellent.

    Posted by: Teehee | Jun 21, 2013 2:53:54 PM

  3. A great idea, and long overdue. The snarky GOP rebuttal will take place any time now.

    Posted by: Jack M | Jun 21, 2013 3:03:03 PM

  4. They should also re-issue DD-214s to all the discharged members who have the GAY CODE NUMBER and reason for separation, even on honorable discharges. It informs all of your potential employers that your gay and causes a great amount of job discrimination.

    Posted by: nick | Jun 21, 2013 3:10:12 PM

  5. Do they still have to carry the gay for the rest of their life?

    Posted by: Gbe | Jun 21, 2013 3:15:42 PM

  6. I like to repeat what I have said many times :

    These discharged Military are entitled to a reversal to the absurd breach of their Constitutional rights to equality.

    Marc Pocan and Charlie Rangal put some substance into your words....
    these Military are entitled to;
    back pay,
    pension losses
    medical insurance losses which they had to cover
    incidental losses, eg travel, legal fees,etc
    damages for breach of Constitutional Rights
    damages for pain and suffering intentionally inflicted.

    This bigoted policy of DADT isn't over; its consequences aren't over and the rights of citizens are not extinguished just because the Congress or the Administration has "evolved" on the issue.
    Fundamental rights are just that - fundamental- they were always there and just because the Govt/Legislature extinguished them temporarily does not either extinguish the right nor exempt them from liability.
    Let the Litigation begin.

    Or are the politicians going to further dig the hole by denying such fundamental rights and justice.

    Posted by: JackFknTwist | Jun 21, 2013 3:15:54 PM

  7. Excellent! I was just thinking that about this and wondering if anybody was fighting for those who were discharged.

    Meanwhile, a GOP congressman wants to shame children into gender roles....

    Posted by: Lalala | Jun 21, 2013 5:07:10 PM

  8. Lala: What would your perfect world look like?

    Posted by: Gbe | Jun 21, 2013 6:16:16 PM

  9. Lala: What would your perfect world look like?

    Posted by: Gbe | Jun 21, 2013 6:16:16 PM

  10. Thanks! This is way overdue.

    Posted by: Andy | Jun 23, 2013 1:05:39 AM

  11. Who is more confused? The news keeps saying that a new bill in Congress will upgrade only those who need (and DESERVE) an Honorable discharge. Others, the VAST majority, do have Honorable, but we are marked as homosexual, AND a criminal reentry code of RE4. We served with HONOR and PRIDE, but it was taken away from us. We were cruelly tortured, and many killed themselves, or wanted to do so, like me.
    ALL of us many THOUSANDS need redress NOW. How about even an APOLOGY for this crime against us??!!! Congress: good luck! Mr. President: WHERE are YOU? How would YOU feel if YOU were in OUR SHOES?
    Try them on, Mister, in fact, all those on Capitol Hill should be in our shoes. IT REALLY HURTS, YEAR AFTER YEAR, AFTER YEAR!!!

    Posted by: Barry | Jun 23, 2013 6:36:35 PM

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