Senators urge DOD to update policies for gay service members

Senators urge DOD to update policies for gay service members
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Senators are calling on the Obama administration to protect military lesbian, gay and bisexual service members from discrimination and harassment in all branches of the military.

In a letter sent Thursday, Senators urged Defense Secretary Ashton Carter to update the equal opportunity policies across the Department of Defense and military services to prohibit discrimination and harassment based on sexual orientation.

“In the three and a half years since the end of the discriminatory policy of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT), the military services have failed to include binding protections for gay, lesbian, and bisexual service members in Equal Opportunity Programs,” said the letter signed by Sens. Chris MurphyChristopher (Chris) Scott MurphyDems give muted praise to Pompeo-Kim meeting Dem senators unveil expanded public option for health insurance Overnight Defense: Lawmakers worry over Syria strategy | Trump's base critical of strikes | Flake undecided on Pompeo | Coast Guard plans to keep allowing transgender members | GOP chair wants to cut B from Pentagon agencies MORE (D-Conn.), Tammy BaldwinTammy Suzanne BaldwinDem senators unveil expanded public option for health insurance Dem senators call on FCC to protect against robocalls GOP Senate hopefuls race to catch up with Dems MORE (D-Wisc.) and 20 other Senators, including lone Republican Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsTrump's NASA nominee advances after floor drama Family, friends mourn death of Barbara Bush Amid struggle for votes, GOP plows ahead with Cabinet picks MORE (Maine).

DOD’s policies need, the Senators said to match its 2014 Human Goals Charter, a document, which governs the fair treatment of people. In it, DOD states it will “strive to make military service in the Department of Defense a model of equal opportunity for all regardless of race, color, sex, religion, sexual orientation, or national origin.”

The absence of formal equal opportunities protection, lawmakers said, impacts the morale and readiness of America’s volunteer forces and creates a national security risk. Though DOD has made strides in ensuring equal opportunities for lesbian, gay and bisexual members of its civilian workforce, only race, color, religion, sex and national origin are protected in Army, Navy and Air Force policies.

“We have the finest men and women serving in uniform and they all deserve equal respect and a safe working environment,” the Senators said. “It is long past time that the military services enact comprehensive reforms to protect all of our men and women from any discrimination based on sexual orientation.”