Rabbi Saperstein: "Today's report removes the last hurdle to repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," a policy that is unsustainable, unwanted, and utterly detrimental to our nation's security. The time has long passed for repeal. We must no longer allow prejudice to deprive our nation of the skills and commitment of talented and patriotic men and women."
WASHINGTON, D.C., November 30, 2010 -- In response to the release of the Pentagon study on the military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy, Religious Action Center Director and Counsel Rabbi David Saperstein issued the following statement:
The release today of the Pentagon's long awaited report from the Task Force charged with investigating the effects of repealing the military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy is as important as it is unsurprising. The conclusion that repeal would present little or no risk to the armed forces' ability to perform their duties must now lead to action in the Senate to bring an end to this outdated law. 70 to 76 percent of servicemembers believe that the change would have almost no effect on their units. Similarly, of the 69 percent of troops who had served with someone they believed to be gay or lesbian, 92 percent claimed their experience to be good, very good, or to have no impact whatsoever. With release of this comprehensive report, it is now clearer than ever that the policy does not live up to our nation's highest ideals of liberty and freedom, meet our security needs, or reflect the feelings of the vast majority of American troops.
Since its inception 17 years ago, the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy has forced gay and lesbian service members to live their lives in secret, always at risk of losing their ability to serve our country. Almost 14,000 soldiers and sailors have been expelled under the policy. It has been estimated by the Government Accountability Office that the cost of replacing these service members exceeds $200 million, with a follow up study by an expert commission placing the figure even higher, at $363 million. This is an unacceptable use of funds, especially in times of war and recession. The abolition of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" is long overdue, and this is only reinforced by the report released today.
As Jews, we are guided by the understanding that all human beings are created b'tselem Elohim, in the Divine image. Regardless of context, discrimination against any person is inconsistent with this fundamental belief, for the stamp of the Divine is present in each and every one of us. Today's report is a step toward creating a more just and compassionate military. Now that we have this report, there is no reason why the Senate cannot complete the work of repeal this year. We must no longer allow prejudice to deprive our nation of the skills and commitment of talented and patriotic men and women.