[JURIST] A bill was introduced Wednesday to the US Senate [official website] that would allow gay soldiers to serve openly in the US military. Senator Joe Lieberman (I-CT) [official website] introduced the Military Readiness Enhancement Act of 2010 [text, PDF], which would repeal the military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy [10 USC § 654 text; JURIST news archive]. In a statement [press release] released Thursday, Senator Roland Burris (D-IL) [official website] hailed the proposed legislation:
For too long, gay and lesbian service members have been forced to conceal their sexual orientation in order to dutifully serve their country. With this bill, we will end this discriminatory policy that grossly undermines the strength of our fighting men and women at home and abroad. This legislation will ensure that all gay and lesbian soldiers, airmen, sailors and Marines can serve their country openly and proudly without the threat of prejudice or discharge.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) [advocacy website] praised the bill, encouraging Congress to act quickly to end the policy [press release]. Republican lawmakers and military leaders have urged Congress not to act until the Pentagon completes its study [JURIST reports] on the impact of repealing the policy.
The repeal of the controversial "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy has been an important issue for US President Barack Obama since he took office, and its inclusion in the State of Union Address [JURIST report] makes it clear that it remains a priority for the administration. In January, legal advisers for the US Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Mike Mullen, suggested that he delay any internal efforts [JURIST report] to repeal the policy until 2011. In October, Obama pledged [JURIST report] to end the controversial policy. After the US Supreme Court [official website] denied certiorari [JURIST report] to review the policy in June, the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) [official website] announced [JURIST reports] that it would hold hearings to review it. In 2008, more than 100 retired admirals and generals of the US military called for a repeal [JURIST report] of the policy.