Last week I listed the demands that Slog commenters and community activists have for Senator Patty Murray now that she's landed a fourth term. Among them:
Josh Friedes, executive director of Equal Rights Washington: "In recent years Patty Murray has been a consistent vote for LGBT civil rights. Now what we want to see from her is strong leadership... We want her to raise the profile of LGBT service-members."
Today, amid reports that Senate Democrats have the votes to authorize a repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," Murray sent the following letter to Senators Carl Levin and John McCain:
Chairman Levin and Ranking Member McCain:
I believe that now is the time for Congress to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation in the military by repealing the statute underlying “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” It was a huge step forward when the Senate Committee on Armed Services included a repeal provision in the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2011. Now I urge you to ensure that this provision remains in the bill as it is brought before the full Senate for consideration.
As you know, thousands of servicemembers have been separated from the military, including many with critical military skills, under the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy. I have heard the stories of some of the thousands of patriotic servicemembers whose valuable military talents have been lost to our military. These men and women volunteered to serve their country in a dangerous time, and their exclusion from the ranks of the Armed Forces represents a glaring injustice as well as a limitation on our military effectiveness.
As a cosponsor of the Military Readiness Enhancement Act of 2010, I support a responsible path towards repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” On May 27, 2010, the Armed Services Committee adopted a “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal amendment to S. 3454, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2011. This amendment reflects a compromise agreement that would repeal the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” statute — but it would do so sixty days after the President, the Secretary of Defense, and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff certify that repeal “is consistent with the standards of military readiness, military effectiveness, unit cohesion, and recruiting and retention of the Armed Forces.” It also ensures that the views of servicemembers and their families on how repeal should be implemented are understood and considered. I believe this represents a sound legislative approach that would protect the civil rights of American servicemembers while minimizing any potential disruption to military personnel policies.
Thank you for your continuing work on behalf of U.S. national security and the men and women of the U.S. Armed Forces. I look forward to working with you in the days ahead to pass a comprehensive defense authorization bill during this Congress that addresses the most pressing of defense policy concerns — the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”