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Media Matters, top gay leaders demand accurate news reports on ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’

News release from Media Matters:

Media Matters joins organizations, activists to demand honest coverage of DADT

Washington, DC – Today, after Media Matters for America released a comprehensive review of the myths and falsehoods media conservatives have pushed in their efforts to prevent a repeal of the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT) law, a coalition of leading organizations and activists joined together to issue an open letter to the news media demanding that reports on DADT remain accurate and fair.

Media Matters’ President Eric Burns joins AMERICAblog’s John Aravosis, Courage Campaign’s Rick Jacobs, GLAAD’s Jarrett T. Barrios, Human Rights Campaign’s Joe Solmonese, Knights Out’s Becky Kanis, National Center for Lesbian Rights’ Kate Kendall, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force’s Rea Carey, National Security Network’s Heather Hurlburt, Servicemembers Legal Defense Network’s Aubrey Sarvis, Servicemembers United’s Alex Nicholson, Truman National Security Project’s Rachel Kleinfeld, VoteVets’ Jon Soltz, and Lt. Dan Choi, US Army Infantry Officer and Arabic Linguist in signing on to the following letter:

Interested Parties:

Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) has announced he will be the chief sponsor of legislation to repeal the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell law. The proposed repeal signifies a crucial step forward in the long-overdue process of allowing gay men and lesbians to serve honestly and proudly in the United States armed services.

Since its inception, the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell law has resulted in the firing of at least 13,500 servicemembers and has reportedly cost the military an estimated $555.2 million. Allowing gay men and lesbians to serve openly has proven successful for many of our closest allies and enjoys broad support in the United States among the public and top military leaders alike, including Defense Secretary Robert Gates, Joint Chiefs Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen, and former Joint Chiefs Chairmen Gen. Colin Powell and Gen. John Shalikashvili.

Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell proponents too often paint a distorted picture of what a repeal would mean. Today, Media Matters for America released a comprehensive review detailing how opinion pages and cable news talk shows have been flooded with falsehoods and anti-gay rhetoric to support the dubious argument that Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell is working.

Myths that repealing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell would adversely affect unit cohesion, retention, or the HIV rate among servicemembers are not based in reality. Similarly, the anti-gay rhetoric permeating many of these arguments only serves to cheapen the national discussion on this important issue.

Because news outlets continue to repeat these outrageous myths, a coalition of organizations is banding together to combat misinformation about the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell law. As Congress moves forward on this legislation, we will be vigilant in ensuring that news reports are accurate and fair. The public deserves an honest debate -- not one marred by blatant falsehoods and anti-gay attacks.

Signed,

AMERICAblog, John Aravosis, Editor

Lt. Dan Choi, US Army Infantry Officer and Arabic Linguist, West Point Graduate, Openly Gay and still serving

Courage Campaign, Rick Jacobs, Founder & Chairman

Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD), Jarrett T. Barrios, President

Human Rights Campaign, Joe Solmonese, President

Knights Out: West Point LGBT Grads, Becky Kanis, Chair

Media Matters for America, Eric Burns, President

National Center For Lesbian Rights, Kate Kendell, Executive Director

National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, Rea Carey, Executive Director

National Security Network, Heather Hurlburt, Executive Director

Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, Aubrey Sarvis, Executive Director

Servicemembers United, Alexander Nicholson, Executive Director

Truman National Security Project, Rachel Kleinfeld, CEO & President

VoteVets, Jon Soltz, Co-Founder & Chairman

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

BACKGROUND

Media Matters’ review of myths and falsehoods about DADT include:

MYTH: Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell is working

REALITY: Over 13,500 service members reportedly fired under law, including decorated officers and those in "critical occupations."

MYTH: Repeal would undermine morale and unit cohesion

REALITY: Unit cohesion argument "not supported by any scientific studies."

MYTH: Military experts oppose the repeal of DADT

REALITY: More than 100 retired generals and admirals have called for DADT's repeal.

MYTH: The public does not support repeal of DADT

REALITY: Numerous polls find broad support for gay men and lesbians serving openly in the military

MYTH: Right-wing attacks on DADT repeal are not anti-gay

REALITY: Prominent right-wing figures opposing repeal have a history of anti-gay rhetoric.

MYTH: DADT repeal would adversely affect retention

REALITY: Myth defies experiences of several other countries that have allowed gay men and lesbians to serve openly.

MYTH: Experience of other nations aren’t relevant because “nobody counts on” their armies

REALITY: Several nations have fought in wars after allowing gay men and lesbians to serve openly.

MYTH: Only progressives support the repeal of DADT

REALITY: Polls show support for repeal of DADT among many Republicans, conservatives.

MYTH: DADT repeal would expose servicemembers to greater HIV risk

REALITY: Military regulations and procedures already exist to prevent the spread of HIV.

To read the entire review, please see: http://mediamatters.org/research/201002240012

Media Matters for America is a Web-based, not-for-profit, 501(c)(3) progressive research and information center dedicated to comprehensively monitoring, analyzing, and correcting conservative misinformation in the U.S. media. For more information, visit www.mediamatters.org

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