WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congressman Adam Smith (D-WA), Chair of the House Armed Services Committee; Congresswoman Jackie Speier (D-CA), Chair of the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Military Personnel; and Congressman Mark Takano (D-CA), Chair of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs sent letters to Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III and Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel & Readiness Gilbert R. Cisneros Jr. calling for historical and survey research related to LGBTQ+ inclusion in the military to ensure servicemembers are never again barred from service based on gender identity or sexual orientation.
“The military services have made significant progress toward advancing inclusion of LGBTQ+ personnel, thanks in part to your efforts to allow open service for transgender servicemembers. At this time—ten years since the repeal of the ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ policy—most current servicemembers have experienced open service for lesbian, gay, and bisexual servicemembers for the majority of their careers, and we hope the same will be said ten years from now for transgender personnel,” the Members wrote. “We also know that the damage done by ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ and preceding policies that excluded LGBTQ+ Americans from serving openly in the military continue to impact many veterans.”
The Letter To Secretary Austin advocates for a historical review of LGBTQ+ inclusion in the military that would include:
- Documentation of the evolution of U.S. military policies regarding service by LGBTQ+ personnel, including how these policies were implemented, particularly related to “Other than Honorable” discharges, from the origination of the policies through the 2021 reversal of the ban on service by transgender servicemembers.
- Analysis of the impact of changes to laws, regulations, and policies on LGBTQ+ service on the military and its personnel.
- Documentation and analysis of social histories that examine how individuals were affected by these policies, including enlisted servicemembers and officers who were impacted by the policies as well as commanders, investigators, and others who implemented the policies, including military personnel and DoD civilian personnel.
- Collection of oral histories of individuals who served during the various bans on open service.
- Analysis of the negative impacts of the prohibitions on the DoD mission, including due to the numbers of potential recruits turned away and those discharged.
- Publication of a historical report summarizing the historical findings of the project and establishment of an archive to retain the oral histories.
The Letter To Under Secretary Cisneros advocates for a survey to be conducted with current servicemembers on LGBTQ+ inclusion in the military. Topics in this survey would cover:
- Whether LGBTQ+ servicemembers feel included and valued by their colleagues and respective military services.
- The incidence of social and professional discrimination experienced by LGBTQ+ servicemembers on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
- Whether and how policies related to leave, dependents, family readiness, childcare, relocation, the Transition Assistance Program, and other installation services are inclusive and meet the needs of LGBTQ+ servicemembers and their dependents.
- Perceptions by non-LGBTQ+ servicemembers of inclusion of, and discrimination toward, LGBTQ+ servicemembers.
- Whether and how the medical needs of LGBTQ+ servicemembers and their dependents are sufficiently met by the Military Health System (MHS), including specific questions about the cultural competency and inclusiveness of MHS medical providers.
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