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Senators call on Panetta to extend benefits to LGBT servicemembers

Kirsten Gillibrand

WASHINGTON – Army Veteran and OutServe-SLDN Executive Director Allyson Robinson today praised Senate Armed Services Committee members Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) for calling on Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta to end his two-year silence on extending recognition, support, and benefits to LGBT servicemembers and their families as the law currently allows.

“We thank Sens. 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,” she said.

Jeanne Shaheen

Gillibrand and Shaheen, strong advocates for equality in the armed forces, sent their letter to Panetta today calling for action.

“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,” Gillibrand and Shaheen write.

“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,” they write.

The letter released today is part of a growing call by the Congress and comes on the heels of a letter sent last week by Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) insisting on action by Panetta to extend benefits where possible.

 



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Posted by Associate Editor on Jan 28, 2013. Filed under Breaking News, Top Highlights. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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