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A Blog by Gary Wright II

Caveats of the DADT Repeal

Friday, March 12th, 2010

On Monday, I answered your questions about the repeal of the Don't Ask, Don't Tell (DADT) policy. Thanks to everyone who submitted their questions - I tried to answer all of them, but each case is different. I thought that today I would share the most frequently asked questions.

Q: When does the repeal take effect?
A: On March 3, 2010, Senator Joe Lieberman (I-CT) introduced the Military Readiness Enhancement Act (S. 3065) in the U.S. Senate. Senator Lieberman is joined by 13 cosponsors -- including the Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee Carl Levin (D-MI).
In the U.S. House of Representatives, Representative Patrick Murphy (D-PA) is quarterbacking parallel legislation, also known as the Military Readiness Enhancement Act (H.R. 1283). Representative Murphy is joined by 189 bipartisan cosponsors and counting.
Once a bill is passed in identical form by both the Senate and the House, it is sent to the president for his signature. Once the president signs the bill, it then becomes a law.

Q: If I am still in the service - what do I do?
A: Remember your rights and answer no questions without legal counsel. The Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN) has the latest information and their Survival Guide at SLDN.org is a must-read for anyone affected by the DADT policy.

Q: What do I do if I've already been discharged under Don't Ask, Don't Tell?
A: Persons previously discharged on the basis of sexual orientation would be eligible to apply to rejoin the military (if otherwise qualified). There is a review board for each branch of service. The board can not change law or policy, but it does have the power to "correct an injustice." Their standard of evidence is quite high, but you may be able to have the characterization of your discharge upgraded, your DD214 narrative changed, and correction of service records. It is possible to take your case to federal court, but it is a difficult process. Seek legal council and utilize the resources of SLDN.org

Q: Does this mean my partner will receive benefits?
A: No. The Military Readiness Enhancement Act would not create a right to benefits for same-sex partners or spouses, because under current federal law such benefits would violate the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).

Q: Can I sue the military for wrongful termination?
A: It depends. A section of the bill states: NO PRIVATE CAUSE OF ACTION FOR DAMAGES: That means that nothing in the Act creates a private cause of action for damages. Every case is different, so always seek legal counsel.

I hope this helps and thank you for all of your support! Also a big Thank You to SLDN.org for all of the hard work you've done for our servicemembers!

-- Gary Wright II

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