Two Democratic congressmen have announced that they will introduce a bill this week that would grant Honorable Discharges to any service member separated under Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, (DADT) the policy that required gay and lesbian personnel to remain closeted. Rep. Charlie Rangel from New York, a decorated Korean War veteran, and Rep. Mark Pocan from Wisconsin, one of six openly gay congressman, said their bill, the Restore Honor To Service Members Act, will change the service record of any member of the military who received a General or a Dishonorable Discharge simply because they were gay. The bill also repeals the military’s ban on consensual sodomy.
The Restore Honor To Service Member Act could affect up to 114,000 former military members separated under DADT. Although the policy was ended in 2011, many veterans are still denied veterans benefits, including healthcare, disability and military burial honors. Under Representative Rangel and Pocan’s bill, the service records of everyone penalized by DADT will have their discharges upgraded to “Honorable” and all their benefits restored. Presently, each service member must individually apply to have their discharge status reconsidered.
Prospects for the bill’s passage are unclear as Rep. Pocan indicated the bill will be filed with no Republican co-sponsors.
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