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In an unusual display of allied cooperation, a dozen organizations – including the Human Rights Campaign, Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, Servicemembers Legal Defense Network and Servicemembers United – plan to release a report, led by Media Matters for America, on Wednesday detailing and debunking common myths about the ”Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy.
The report, ”Myths and Falsehoods on Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” a copy of which was provided to Metro Weekly, would fall during a week of Hill testimony by the service branch chiefs. Representatives from the Army testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday as their colleagues in the Air Force testified before the House Armed Services Committee.
Among the issues detailed in the report is the claim reiterated on Tuesday by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) that the policy is working.
The report counters this by detailing that more than 13,500 servicemembers have been ”fired” since the law was passed by Congress in 1993 – a number that ”includes numerous decorated officers and, according to a 2005 Government Accountability Office (GAO) report, 54 servicemembers who spoke Arabic, and more than 750 servicemembers in ‘critical occupations.”’
According to a joint statement representing the views of all the participating organizations to be issued with the report, ”Claims that repealing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell would adversely affect unit cohesion, retention, or the HIV rate among servicemembers are not based in reality. Similarly, the anti-gay rhetoric permeating many of these arguments only serves to cheapen the national discussion on this important issue.”
The other organizations releasing the report include AmericaBlog, Courage Campaign, the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force, National Security Network, Truman National Security Project, VoteVets and Knights Out: West Point LGBT Grads, as well as West Point graduate Lt. Dan Choi.
”Because news outlets continue to repeat these outrageous claims, a coalition of organizations is banding together to combat misinformation about the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell law,” the joint statement says. ”As Congress moves forward on this legislation, we will be vigilant in ensuring that news reports are accurate and fair. The public deserves an honest debate — not one marred by blatant falsehoods and anti-gay attacks.”
Among the other areas addressed in the report are unit cohesion and retention concerns, as well as the level of military expert and public support – including conservative and independents’ support – for repealing the policy. As with the extensive Palm Center report issued Tuesday, the organizations also take aim at the claimed ”irrelevance” of foreign militaries. Finally, the report also calls out the opponents of repeal, noting, ”Prominent right-wing figures opposing repeal have a history of anti-gay rhetoric.”