Friday, 31 December 2010

Di-ve: US repeals ban on openly-gay servicemen
22 December 2010;

Openly gay people will now be able to serve in the US military, following the signing of a landmark law by US President Barack Obama.

The signing of the law means that the US will join numerous other countries – Malta included – not to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation.

Former President Bill Clinton, another member of Obama's Democratic Party, had previously sought to allow all citizens to serve in the military regardless of sexual orientation, but met resistance from the US Congress.

As a compromise, he signed into law Defence Directive 1304.26, which is popularly known as the "don't ask don't tell" policy. As a result of the law, the military would not ask members to reveal their sexual orientation; but members could still be dismissed if they revealed their sexual orientation.

Over 13,000 service members have been dismissed as a result, and President Obama had promised to repeal the law in his presidential campaign.

Opponents had argued that a change in policy could affect troop morale, particularly at a time of war. But a Pentagon report issued earlier this month said that allowing openly-gay troops to serve would have little, if any, impact on US forces fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Subsequently, the outgoing Senate and House of Representatives approved the new law last week, with moderate Republicans joining the vast majority of Democrats, paving the way for President Obama to sign the existing policy's repeal.

"This morning I'm proud to sign a law that will bring an end to 'don't ask, don't tell'," the US President said.

"No longer will tens of thousands of Americans be asked to live a lie in order to serve the country that they love."

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