Democrats introduce resolution apologizing to LGBT community for government discrimination

Democrats introduce resolution apologizing to LGBT community for government discrimination
© Greg Nash

Democratic senators introduced a resolution Friday that would acknowledge and apologize for the mistreatment and discrimination against LGBT individuals in the U.S. military, armed forces and government posts. 

The resolution, lead by Sens. Tammy BaldwinTammy Suzanne BaldwinManaging the US dollar to pay for congressional infrastructure plans Duckworth, Pressley introduce bill to provide paid family leave for those who experience miscarriage Senate Democrats call for Medicaid-like plan to cover non-expansion states MORE (D-Wis.), who is an openly gay member of the Senate, and Tim KaineTimothy (Tim) Michael KaineOvernight Defense: Watchdog blasts government's handling of Afghanistan conflict | Biden asks Pentagon to look into mandatory vaccines | Congress passes new Capitol security bill GOP, Democrats battle over masks in House, Senate Senators introduce bipartisan bill to expand foreign aid partnerships MORE (D-Va.), acknowledges and apologizes "for the mistreatment of and discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LBGT) individuals who have served our nation as civil servants or members of the Armed Forces and Foreign Service." 

The resolution also reestablishes a commitment by the U.S. government to "military service members, veterans, foreign service employees, federal civil service employees, and contractors with equal respect and fairness, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity."

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The lawmakers' resolution comes in the middle of June, a month set aside to celebrate LGBT pride and activism. 

The senators' resolution notes that dating back to the 1940s, discrimination against the LGBT community was part of military policy.

At the time, the Department of Defense stated that “homosexual personnel, irrespective of sex, should not be permitted to serve in any branch of the Armed Forces in any capacity and prompt separation of known homosexuals from the Armed Forces is mandatory,” according to a statement released by Kaine. 

The resolution also acknowledges the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy enacted in the military under former President Clinton. The policy stated that LGBT service members were prohibited from disclosing their sexual orientation while in the armed forces. 

"...despite 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' policy, LGBT military service members continued to be investigated and discharged solely on the basis of the sexual orientation of those military service members," the resolution reads. 

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Most recently, the Trump administration in 2017 and 2018 effectively banned transgender service members from openly serving in the military. 

However, the Biden administration reversed Trump's policy at the end of March, with the Pentagon unveiling new policies that would allow transgender service members to serve using their gender identity. 

"Secretary of Defense [Lloyd AustinLloyd AustinOvernight Defense: First group of Afghan evacuees arrives in Virginia | Biden signs Capitol security funding bill, reimbursing Guard | Pentagon raises health protection level weeks after lowering it China moves quickly to replace America in Afghanistan Harris to travel to Vietnam, Singapore in August MORE] strongly believes the all-volunteer force thrives when it is composed of diverse Americans who can meet the high standards for military service in an inclusive force that … strengthens our national security posture," Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said at the time.

The lawmakers' resolution also recognizes that more than 100,000 LGBT service members were forced out of the military between World War II and 2011 because of their gender identity or sexual orientation. 

"In order for the United States to heal and move forward, the Federal Government must accord all LGBT individuals who were discriminated against by, wrongfully terminated by, and excluded from serving in the Armed Forces, the Foreign Service, and the Federal civil service the same acknowledgment and apology: Now, therefore, be it resolved," the resolution states. 

The document is co-sponsored by Democratic Sens. Ed MarkeyEd MarkeyHuman rights can't be a sacrificial lamb for climate action Nearly 140 Democrats urge EPA to 'promptly' allow California to set its own vehicle pollution standards Senate Democrats press administration on human rights abuses in Philippines MORE (D-Mass.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerSenate infrastructure talks spill over into rare Sunday session Senate holds sleepy Saturday session as negotiators finalize infrastructure deal Democrats warn shrinking Biden's spending plan could backfire MORE (D-Va.), Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenDemocrats warn shrinking Biden's spending plan could backfire Democrats release data showing increase in 'mega-IRA' accounts Senate Democrats press administration on human rights abuses in Philippines MORE (D-Ore.), Cory BookerCory BookerWomen urge tech giants to innovate on office return Human rights can't be a sacrificial lamb for climate action Senate Democrats press administration on human rights abuses in Philippines MORE (D-N.J.) and Chris Van HollenChristopher (Chris) Van HollenSenate Democrats press administration on human rights abuses in Philippines Civil rights activist Gloria Richardson dies Senate Democrats hit speedbumps with big spending plans MORE (D-Md.), among others.