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March 16, 2007
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Volume 35
Issue 11
 
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Dont Ask, Dont Tell dismissals decline to record low -
Dont Ask, Dont Tell dismissals decline to record low -
WASHINGTON, D.C.  The Department of Defense dismissed 612 service members under the militarys Dont Ask, Dont Tell ban on Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual personnel, Pentagon officials confirmed late Tuesday evening. The number of troops dismissed last year is less than half the total number of discharges in the fiscal year preceding the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Pentagon officials released the data today following remarks by General Peter Pace, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, supporting the ban and referring to Lesbian and Gay personnel as immoral.

The Pentagons data shines a bright light on the hypocrisy of Dont Ask, Dont Tell, said C. Dixon Osburn, executive director of Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN). When military leaders need the talent, skills and qualifications of Gay personnel, dismissals decline. Then, during peacetime, the dismissal rate climbs again. The Pentagons own data shows that, during times of war, when unit cohesion is most important, fewer Gay troops are dismissed. In fact, Lesbian and Gay Americans are making important contributions to our national security. The ban on their service, and not their service itself, is what erodes cohesion most.

During fiscal year 2005, the Pentagon dismissed 742 service members. The 612 men and women dismissed this past year represent the fewest annual discharges since the laws enactment. The Pentagon provided no comment on the data upon its release. A service-specific breakdown of dismissals was not made available by Pentagon officials, nor was a breakdown of specialists dismissed under the law made public.

Especially today, when the military faces well-documented recruiting and retention woes, the loss of even one skilled service member is one too many, said Osburn. The 612 men and women fired certainly include troops with valuable skills. The loss of those personnel is disgraceful, and Congress should repeal Dont Ask, Dont Tell once and for all.

For more information on Dont Ask, Dont Tell, visit www.sldn.org.

A SLDN press release

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