President Biden Honors the 10th Anniversary of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' Repeal

by Emell Adolphus

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Monday September 20, 2021

President Joe Biden celebrated the 10th anniversary repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" on Monday with a plea for the country to pass the Equality Act.

As reported by NBC, President Biden detailed in a statement how many veterans received "other than honorable" discharges under the policy.

"Ten years ago today, a great injustice was remedied and a tremendous weight was finally lifted off the shoulders of tens of thousands of dedicated American servicemembers," Biden said in a statement issued by the White House. "It was the right thing to do. And, it showed once again that America is at its best when we lead not by the example of our power, but by the power of our example."

The Department of Veterans Affairs recently issued a policy clarification on Monday stating that veterans who received other than honorable discharges based on homosexual conduct, gender identity or HIV status may be eligible for VA benefits, such as home loan guaranty, compensation and pension, health care, homeless program and/or burial benefits, among others.

President Obama signs to repeal Don't Ask, Don't Tell on December 22, 2010.

The hope is that the policy helps VA adjudicators and veterans who "have not applied for a discharge upgrade due to the perception that the process could be onerous."

"On this day and every day, I am thankful for all of the LGBTQ+ service members and veterans who strengthen our military and our nation," Biden said, explaining that he is commander in chief of the "most inclusive military in our nation's history."

Moreover, Biden wrote that leaders in his administration are a reflection of this inclusivity, including recently confirmed under secretary of the Air Force Gina Ortiz Jones, transportation secretary Pete Buttigieg, who served as as under secretary of the Air Force, and Shawn Skelly, the first transgender person to be assistant secretary of defense for readiness.

Passing the Equality Act honors past and present LGBTQ service members with action, Biden said. If passed, the Act would provide the first federal protections from LGBTQ discrimination in housing, education, public accommodations credit and more.

The Equality Act bill is currently stalled in the Senate.