Tribute to thousands of dismissed gay soldiers

PinkNews logo on pink background with rainbow corners.

Tomorrow gay activists will mark the 14th anniversary of the ban on openly gay, lesbian or bisexual people serving in the US military.

The Human Rights Campaign, Servicemembers United, Log Cabin Republicans, Servicemembers Legal Defence Network and Liberty Education Forum are to host a three-day tribute, 12,000 Flags for 12,000 Patriots, on the National Mall.

The events recognise the 12,000 men and women kicked out of the military since the signing of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

“Every year thousands of highly skilled gay, lesbian, bisexual servicemembers are discharged simply because of who they are,” said Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese.

“The vast majority of Americans, including the majority of servicemembers, support the right of gay, lesbian and bisexual servicemembers to serve openly and honestly.

“We must repeal this discriminatory policy and ensure that the US military can recruit and retain the best and the brightest troops regardless of their sexual orientation.”

According to a recent Harris poll, 55 percent of Americans now support repealing the military’s DADT policy.

A December 2006 Zogby poll of soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan found that 73 percent of soldiers reported being “comfortable … in the presence of gays,” and only 37 percent oppose repealing the policy.

Many military officials, including Gen. John Shalikashvili, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under President Clinton, now believe that gays should be allowed to serve openly.