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Carter calls for
end to "don't ask, don't tell"

Carter calls for
end to "don't ask, don't tell"

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In a statement to Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, former president Jimmy Carter has called on Congress to revisit the Pentagon's "don't ask, don't tell" policy regarding gays and lesbians in the military.

Former president Jimmy Carter has called on Congress to revisit the Pentagon's "don't ask, don't tell" policy regarding gays and lesbians in the military. In an exclusive statement to Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, an advocacy group for gay and lesbian service personnel, Carter said, "It is my long-held belief that every human being deserves dignity and respect. I often heard that phrase during my years at the United States Naval Academy, I carried it out as commander-in-chief, and it continues to animate my human rights work around the globe today. The nation's commitment to human rights requires that lawmakers revisit 'don't ask, don't tell,' the current policy that prevents lesbians, gays, and bisexuals from serving openly in our armed forces."

"As someone who has served our country as a naval officer, commander-in-chief, and one of the world's pre-eminent human rights champions, there are few people more qualified to speak about this issue than President Carter," said Sharra E. Greer, director of law and policy for SLDN, in a press release. "There is a growing understanding that 'don't ask, don't tell' isn't just bad public policy but is also a blight on our country's commitment to human rights and equal opportunity. SLDN welcomes President Carter, the first Nobel laureate, to call for an end to this unconscionable discrimination within our own government, to the coalition of those working to lift the ban."

In his statement to SLDN, Carter said, "'Don't ask, don't tell' is the only law in America today that regulates a group of citizens, then prohibits them from identifying themselves and speaking up on their own behalf. Gay soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines are unable to tell their member of Congress or their commander that the policy is an abject failure, and they are living proof because they will face discharge. Those who defend our liberties and freedoms deserve better.... There are great differences in public opinion on social issues today compared to 20 years ago. When I served as president, the majority in our country did not support equality for gay Americans, but that has now changed."

"The estimated 65,000 gay men and women who currently are serving our country honorably deserve respect," Carter added. "America has always been a beacon of hope for those who believe in human rights and individual dignity. The brave and dedicated men and women of our armed forces also must benefit from this fundamental ideal."

President Carter's complete statement to SLDN is available online at www.sldn.org. (The Advocate)

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Carter calls for
end to "don't ask, don't tell"

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