Press

The Task Force Provides Testimony Supporting Justification for Overturn of US Military ‘Don't Ask, Don't Tell’ Policy

Date: 
March 23, 2005

National Gay & Lesbian Task Force Provides Testimony Supporting Justification for Overturn of US Military 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' Policy at March 22 Press Conference

In Honor of Women's History Month, Jason Cianciotto, Research Director of the Task Force Policy Institute, cites data from 2000 U.S. Census on Black Lesbian Military Veterans

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NEW YORK, NY, March 23 — The National Gay & Lesbian Task Force joined key gay, lesbian, and bisexual military veteran’s organizations yesterday to testify before members of the New York City Council in favor of a resolution calling upon Congress and President Bush to overturn the U.S. Military's "Don't Ask, Don’t Tell Policy." Among the groups and individuals represented were the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN), American Veterans for Equal Rights (AVER), and several openly gay and lesbian retired military officers.

Jason Cianciotto, Research Director of Task Force Policy Institute, delivered testimony in favor of the resolution, citing data from the 2000 U.S. Census to show how black lesbians and their families are disproportionately impacted by the policy. The following is a summary of his comments.

Since 1993, researchers and policy analysts have consistently documented the tragedy of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." I am here today to draw from that body of knowledge in support of the repeal of this discriminatory policy.

Given that March is Women's History Month, I will focus on the under-researched plight of lesbian women of color who have chosen to serve their country in the military. Over the past year, The Task Force Policy Institute has analyzed data from the 2000 U.S. Census on black same-sex households, including incidence of military service among this segment of our community. According to the Census, black women serve their country at a very high rate relative to other women. In fact, black women in same-sex households report that they are military veterans at eleven times the rate of all women nationwide, regardless of race or ethnicity.

Consider what happens when a black women is discharged under "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." We know from our analysis of 2000 census data, for example, that black women in same-sex households are parenting at almost the same rate as black married opposite-sex households. How does the loss of a steady income, health benefits, and the promise of a secure retirement affect them and their children? Lesbian women of color are serving their country at disproportionately high rates, but are receiving far less in return.

The efficacy and impact of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" has been well researched and documented. Based on this information, 79% of Americans—and even a majority of enlisted service members—now support lifting the ban. It is time for President Bush, Congress and the Department of Defense to honor and respect the estimated 65,000 lesbian, gay, and bisexual military personnel who are currently serving by repealing "Don't Ask, Don't Tell."

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The mission of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force is to build the political power of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community from the ground up. We do this by training activists, organizing broad-based campaigns to defeat anti-LGBT referenda and advance pro-LGBT legislation, and by building the organizational capacity of our movement. Our Policy Institute, the movement’s premier think tank, provides research and policy analysis to support the struggle for complete equality and to counter right-wing lies. As part of a broader social justice movement, we work to create a nation that respects the diversity of human expression and identity and creates opportunity for all. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., we also have offices in New York City, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis and Cambridge.