Senate

Democrats introduce resolution apologizing to LGBT community for government discrimination

Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.)
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 Baldwin (D-Wis.), who is an openly gay member of the Senate, and Tim Kaine (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.”

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. 

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 Austin] 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 Markey (D-Mass.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Mark Warner (D-Va.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), among others. 

Tags Chris Van Hollen Cory Booker Don't ask, don't tell Ed Markey LGBT Lloyd Austin Mark Warner Ron Wyden Tammy Baldwin Tim Kaine Transgender personnel in the United States military

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