December 20, 2014 · 28 Kislev

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Circuit Court Decision a Step Toward Repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” Jewish Leader Says

Pelavin: “Regardless of sexual orientation, those who put their lives on the line to serve this country and defend our freedom through military service deserve our utmost gratitude and respect – not an intolerant policy that forces them to hide their identities.”

Contact: Kate Bigam or Jason Fenster
202.387.2800 | news@rac.org

WASHINGTON, D.C., December 10, 2008 – In response to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals’ recent refusal to grant a full-court hearing in Witt v. United States Air Force questioning the constitutionality of the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy on homosexuality, Mark Pelavin, associate director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, issued the following statement:

For more than 15 years, the discriminatory “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, Don’t Pursue, Don’t Harass" policy has forced members of the United States military to hide or deny their sexual orientation at the risk of being discharged.  It is, and has long been, an unfair policy, one that is at odds with the American public’s increasingly accepting views toward gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender individuals. This week’s noteworthy ruling from the Ninth Circuit, however, represents what we hope is a turning tide of legal thought, one that no longer uniformly holds the discriminatory “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy to be essential or even constitutional.

Jewish tradition teaches that we are all created b’tselem elohim, in the image of God, and that discrimination against any group of people is inconsistent with this fundamental belief. We oppose discrimination against all individuals, including gays, lesbians, and bisexuals, for the stamp of the Divine is present in each and every one of us.

It is our sincerest hope that the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision will spur a renewed national dialogue on the usefulness of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy and will lead, ultimately, to its repeal.

Regardless of sexual orientation, those who put their lives on the line to serve this country and defend our freedom through military service deserve our utmost gratitude and respect – not an intolerant policy that forces them to hide their identities.

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The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism is the Washington office of the Union for Reform Judaism, whose more than 900 congregations across North America encompass 1.5 million Reform Jews, and the Central Conference of American Rabbis, whose membership includes more than 1800 Reform rabbis.



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