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Gillibrand and Shaheen Call On Panetta To Move On LGBT Military Rights

English: Kirsten Gillibrand, New York's junior...

English: Kirsten Gillibrand, New York’s junior United States Senator (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Senators Kirsten Gillibrand and Jean Shaheen have both called upon Defense Secretary Leon Panetta to end his silence regarding extending recognition, support and benefits to LGBT service members their families. The two wrote to Panetta, who is stepping down soon as Defense Secretary, saying:

“As Secretary, you have the power to extend certain important support programs for military families to all of our service members. In fact, the State Department, Office of Personnel and Management, and the Defense Department for its civilian employees have already extended certain benefits to their LGBT employees and their families.”

“Repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell was a critical step to ensuring that our military retains all of the best and brightest and does not discriminate against any Americans. But, the lack of equal benefits undermines those service members whose families are denied the programs offered for military families.”

Last week, Representative Adam Schiff of California made a similar call, and OutServe-SLDN has been calling for such recognition for about two years now. OutServe-SLDN executive director Allyson Robinson said about the Gillibrand-Shaheen letter:

“We thank Senators Gillibrand and Shaheen for their tireless leadership on behalf of LGBT service members and families. After nearly two years of delay and equivocation that has hurt our service members and their families, it’s time for Secretary Panetta to, likewise, acknowledge the service and sacrifice of the gay and lesbian military families – who may now serve openly, but are still anything but equal – by immediately extending all benefits within his authority under existing law.”

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