Ahead of tonight’s live “Commander-in-Chief Forum” discussing veterans’ issues and foreign policy, the Human Rights Campaign is warning of the enormous threat a Trump-Pence ticket poses to the historic gains made over the last eight years on LGBTQ equality in the military.
Co-sponsored by the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, the forum comes as the nation approaches the five-year anniversary of the discriminatory “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT) law being lifted on Sept. 20, 2011. Notably, Hillary Clinton long supported the repeal of DADT. While Tim Kaine voted to repeal DADT, Mike Pence voted against it, saying it would turn the military into “a backdrop for social experimentation.” Clinton committed early in the campaign to lifting the outdated ban on open service by transgender people, a policy that has since become a reality. She has also committed to upgrading the service records of LGBTQ people who were given less than honourable discharges because of their sexual orientation.
“I’ve seen firsthand how the progress we’ve made toward LGBTQ equality in the Armed Forces has improved military and family readiness,” said Stephen Peters, a spokesperson for the Human Rights Campaign and a Marine who was discharged under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. “LGBTQ service members can go to work and serve their country without having to worry about hiding who they are or whom they love. We cannot allow Donald Trump and Mike Pence to take that away from our brave men and women in uniform.”
Peters is also the founder and president emeritus of the American Military Partner Association.
Under President Obama’s leadership, DADT, the discriminatory law that prevented gay, lesbian and bisexual troops from serving openly, was repealed; equal benefits were ensured for the same-sex spouses of service members; and, most recently, the outdated ban on open service by transgender people was lifted. Trump has threatened to roll back the gains made both in the military and out, and, in choosing Mike Pence as his running mate, has embraced a politician who has made opposing LGBTQ equality a cornerstone of his career.
Hillary Clinton would continue building on the equality legacy of President Obama, ensuring that all service members are treated with the dignity and respect they deserve. Secretary Clinton has made LGBTQ equality a pillar of her campaign and recently unveiled the most robust and ambitious LGBTQ plan any candidate for president has ever laid out. She has vowed to fight for the Equality Act — a bill that would finally offer explicit, clear, and permanent non-discrimination protections for LGBTQ people at the federal level — and her detailed LGBTQ policy platform specifically calls for outlawing dangerous “conversion therapy” for minors, ending the epidemic of transgender violence, and supporting HIV prevention and affordable treatment, among other proposals that would advance equality and support the LGBTQ community.