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Bill Introduced in U.S. Senate to Restore Honor to Veterans Discharged from Military for Being Gay

On January 30, Senators Brian Schatz (D-HI) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) introduced legislation mirroring that introduced by Reps. Charles Rangel (D-NY) and Mark Pocan (D-WI) last June which would upgrade the service records of LGBT troops discharged for sexual orientation and open the door to veterans benefits, the Stars and Stripes reports:

Schatz“The repeal of 'Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ was a watershed moment, ending institutionalized discrimination that unjustly targeted gay and lesbian members of the military,” Schatz (pictured) said in a statement from his office. “Yet thousands of former service members still bear the scars of that discrimination, with their military records tarnished with discharges other than honorable and marks on their records that compromise their right to privacy.

“Many of these brave men and women that served our country are currently barred from benefits that they earned and are entitled to, and in the most egregious cases they are prevented from legally calling themselves a veteran. This needs to be corrected now.”

Roughly 114,000 servicemembers were discharged because of sexual orientation between World War II and the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell” in September 2011, officials have stated. Many of these servicemembers, depending on the discharge classification and the state in which they lived, were treated as felons and precluded from voting and collecting unemployment and veterans’ benefits, such as health care and disability. Many were also discriminated against when applying for jobs and housing.

The House bill has bipartisan support from 140 members but has not moved forward as of yet.

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  1. How a country treats its veterans says a lot.

    Posted by: Randy | Feb 13, 2014 1:05:25 PM

  2. This is why I say, reparations need to be eventually considered seriously.

    It's not just veterans that were treated this way, lives were destroyed, careers destroyed, families destroyed.

    Posted by: Just Sayin' | Feb 13, 2014 1:25:56 PM

  3. This is a Must pass bill.

    Posted by: Grover Syck | Feb 13, 2014 3:17:28 PM

  4. Bravo for the bill's sponsors, but the Senator's office has grossly amplified the exaggerations and distortions about the history of discharges. From all my years of study of the subject, I have yet to figure out what they remoted mean by allegedly not being able to call oneself a "veteran." And the ONLY way one could be labeled a "felon" (which would bar voting in most states) is if one was found guilty of something in a military court marshal, and that was VERY rarely employed. Most were "administratively" discharged, and the worst the federal government could do to those victims after the fact deny them VA medical benefits and the opportunity to go to college on what used to be called the GI Bill. But in fact, since at least 1990....four years before DADT became law...some 95% got Honorable or General Under Honorable Conditions discharge characterizations. The REAL problem because potential employers could ask to see them and because it applied to EVERYONE no matter what their "characterization" was what appeared on the long form of their discharge papers: some use of the word "homosexual," and codes which meant the same thing, and a code indicating one was barred from reenlisting—considered another disgrace.

    The Pentagon must stop dragging their feet and the Obama Administration must support this bill to more easily erase the records of the nation's historic homophobic shame. But there is no justification for rewriting that history. The truth was bad enough.

    Posted by: Michael Bedwell | Feb 13, 2014 4:31:56 PM

  5. The elimination of DADT, provided a great deal of strength to our lasting, meaningful equal rights. This legislation is superb, more will follow.

    Posted by: RexT | Feb 13, 2014 4:43:47 PM

  6. As an honorably discharged Navy veteran and a gay man, I whole heartedly support their efforts.

    Posted by: andrew | Feb 13, 2014 5:44:25 PM

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