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Rep. Ron Klein, D-Boca Raton, co-sponsors Don't Ask, Don't Tell repeal bill

News release:

WASHINGTON – Five additional Members of the House of Representatives have signed on as co-sponsors of The Military Readiness Enhancement Act (H.R. 1246), a Congressional bill to repeal the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” ban on lesbian, gay and bisexual military personnel.  Representatives Al Green (D-TX), Jesse Jackson, Jr. (D-IL), Ron Klein (D-FL), Patrick J. Murphy (D-PA) and Mike Thompson (D-CA) bring the total number of co-sponsors to 136.

“We are enormously proud to welcome these five lawmakers to the growing coalition of Congressional Members working to repeal ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,’” said Aubrey Sarvis, executive director of Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN).  “This unfair and un-American law has cost our nation the skills of more than 11,000 patriotic service members, and Congress is increasingly recognizing that our nation can ill afford to lose such talent.  SLDN will continue to build support for repeal and work, every day, for the freedom to serve.”

Congresswoman Ellen Tauscher (D-CA), the lead sponsor of H.R. 1246, added that, ““With every new lawmaker who signs on we are one step closer to repealing this discriminatory policy that has been preventing otherwise qualified men and women from serving our country and contributing to the finest fighting force in the world.  I thank all these new cosponsors for standing up for what’s right, and I look forward to working with them to enlist more and more of our colleagues.”

Congressman Patrick J. Murphy, one of the co-sponsors announced today, is an Iraq war veteran and former West Point professor elected to the House in 2006.  Murphy is also a former JAG Corps attorney, and served two deployments after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 - the first to Bosnia in 2002 and the second to Baghdad, Iraq in 2003-2004 as a paratrooper with the 82nd Airborne Division. For his service, Captain Murphy earned the Bronze Star for service and his unit earned the Presidential Unit Citation.

“Congressman Murphy, a respected voice on military matters and a member of the House Armed Services Committee, will be an irreplaceable ally in our work to repeal ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,’” said Sarvis.  “His support sends a strong message that those who know our armed forces best also understand that ending this law is the right thing to do for our military and our country.”

Since 1993, the federal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law has cost American taxpayers more than $364 million.  An average of two service members are dismissed under the law every day.  According to the Government Accountability Office (GAO), nearly 800 people with skills deemed ‘mission-critical’ by the Pentagon have been dismissed under the law, including more than 322 language experts, at least 58 of whom specialized in Arabic.

For more information on “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and The Military Readiness Enhancement Act, visit www.sldn.org.

Servicemembers Legal Defense Network is a national, non-profit legal services, watchdog and policy organization dedicated to ending discrimination against and harassment of military personnel affected by ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ and related forms of intolerance.  For more information, visit http://www.sldn.org.

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