Biden Announces Pardons for Military Service Members Convicted Under ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’

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    by Sidney Hunt
    Published: June 27, 2024 (4 weeks ago)

    In a landmark move aimed at rectifying past injustices, President Joe Biden has announced plans to pardon military service members who were discharged due to their sexual orientation under the controversial ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ (DADT) policy. This policy, implemented in 1993 during the Clinton administration, prohibited openly gay, lesbian, and bisexual individuals from serving in the U.S. military. As a result, thousands of service members faced dishonorable discharges and the lifelong stigma that accompanied them.

    President Biden’s decision to issue these pardons marks a significant step towards acknowledging the discrimination and hardships endured by LGBTQ+ service members during the years of DADT. The pardons are seen as a gesture of recognition and respect for the sacrifices made by these individuals in service to their country, despite facing adversity within the military ranks.

    “Today, we right a historic wrong,” President Biden declared during a press conference at the White House. “For too long, patriotic Americans who happened to be LGBTQ+ were unjustly targeted and deprived of their right to serve openly and with dignity. This pardon is a symbol of our commitment to equality and justice for all.”

    The announcement has been met with widespread support from LGBTQ+ advocacy groups, veterans’ organizations, and civil rights advocates across the nation. Many have hailed the move as a long-overdue acknowledgment of the discriminatory policies of the past and a step forward in ensuring equal treatment for all service members, regardless of sexual orientation.

    Under the new initiative, eligible individuals who received less than honorable discharges under DADT can apply for a pardon through a streamlined process administered by the Department of Defense. The pardons will not only clear their military records but also restore benefits and privileges that were previously denied to them.

    “This pardon is not just about correcting records; it’s about recognizing the dignity and bravery of those who served in silence,” said Secretary of Defense, in a statement following the announcement. “It’s a testament to the values of inclusion and fairness that we uphold in our armed forces today.”

    The pardons are part of President Biden’s broader commitment to advancing LGBTQ+ rights and undoing discriminatory policies across federal agencies. The administration has already taken steps to reverse several Trump-era policies that rolled back protections for LGBTQ+ individuals in healthcare, education, and housing.

    As the nation commemorates Pride Month, the pardons serve as a poignant reminder of the progress made towards equality while acknowledging the work that remains to be done. With this action, President Biden has signaled a new chapter in American military history—one that embraces diversity, honors service, and upholds the principles of equality and justice for all.

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