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Lawmakers call for hearing on "don't ask, don't tell"

Lawmakers call for hearing on "don't ask, don't tell"

Less than a month after a bill was introduced to repeal the military's antigay "don't ask, don't tell" policy, seven members of the House Armed Services Committee called on committee chairman Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) to hold hearings to review the military ban on openly lesbian, gay, and bisexual personnel. The request follows the Military Readiness Enhancement Act, a bill sponsored by Rep. Marty Meehan (D-Mass.) that would end the ban and allow gay service members to serve openly. Each member signing the request for a hearing is also a cosponsor of the repeal proposal. In an April 4 letter to Hunter, Meehan was joined by Neil Abercrombie (D-Hawaii), Robert A. Brady (D-Pa.), Steve Israel (D-N.Y.), James Langevin (D-R.I.), Ellen Tauscher (D-Calif.), and Mark Udall (D-Colo.). The letter stated: "In light of the military's personnel strains resulting from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, we believe it is necessary to evaluate the policy's effect on military readiness.... At a time when our military is already stretched dangerously thin, we are concerned that discharging qualified service members solely because of their sexual orientation is counterproductive.... It is time for this committee to have a serious dialogue about ramifications of the 'don't ask, don't tell' policy on our national security." "In the 11 years since 'don't ask, don't tell' was enacted, we have accumulated irrefutable evidence that the law hurts our national security, impacts our military readiness, and makes America less secure," said C. Dixon Osburn, executive director for the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network. "There should be a thorough review of that evidence and an opportunity to review and critique the law." The Military Readiness Enhancement Act has been endorsed by 73 members of Congress, including three Republican lawmakers. "We've tried the policy. I don't think it works. And we've spent a lot of money enforcing it," Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), a member of the Subcommittee on National Security, Emerging Threats, and International Relations, recently told the Miami Herald. "It doesn't make any sense."

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