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 MurphySanders: 'We must follow New Zealand's lead' and ban assault weapons The fear of colorectal cancer as a springboard for change Dems shift strategy for securing gun violence research funds MORE (D-Conn.), Tammy BaldwinTammy Suzanne BaldwinTrump mounts Rust Belt defense On The Money: Trump issues emergency order grounding Boeing 737 Max jets | Senate talks over emergency resolution collapse | Progressives seek defense freeze in budget talks Dems offer bill to end tax break for investment-fund managers MORE (D-Wisc.) and 20 other Senators, including lone Republican Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsSenate GOP poised to go 'nuclear' on Trump picks Overnight Health Care: CDC pushes for expanding HIV testing, treatment | Dem group launches ads attacking Trump on Medicare, Medicaid cuts | Hospitals, insurers spar over surprise bills | O'Rourke under pressure from left on Medicare for all Dem group launches ads attacking Trump's 'hypocrisy on Medicare and Medicaid cuts' 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.”