Legislative Military Vets Applaud ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ Repeal

In Letter to Congressional Members, State Legislators Thank Them for Recognizing Soldiers’ Service and Civil Rights

(TRENTON) — In a letter to New Jersey Congressional members who voted to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” the military policy which required gay soldiers to hide their sexual orientation, five New Jersey state lawmakers who served in the Armed Forces applauded the decision, saying the time has come to recognize gay soldiers’ service and civil rights.

“For me and for the other four legislators who signed on to this letter, the repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ amounts to a significant step forward, not only in our national acceptance of the LGBT community, but also for our military,” said Senator Raymond J. Lesniak, D-Union, who organized the letter and sponsored New Jersey’s Marriage Equality Act in the last Legislative session. “Military service shouldn’t be predicated on a question of who you love, but how much you’re willing to sacrifice for love of your country. The repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,’ is a testament not only to evolving social views, but also is a fitting eulogy for the men and women who lost their lives on the battlefield without ever being able to be true to who they are.”

The lawmakers’ letter, signed by three State Senators — Lesniak (Specialist, Fourth Class — U.S. Army, 1967-1969); John A. Girgenti, D-Passaic and Bergen (Sergeant — U.S. Army National Guard, 1970-1976); and Ronald L. Rice, D-Essex (Sergeant — U.S. Marine Corps, 1966-1970) — and two members of the General Assembly — Thomas P. Giblin, D-Essex and Passaic (Staff Sergeant — NJ Air National Guard, 1966-1972); and Gordon M. Johnson, D-Bergen (Major — U.S. Army Reserve) — is attached.

“I’m proud that Congress approved, and the President signed, a measure to repeal ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,'” said Senator Lesniak. “DADT has been a black mark on the service of brave men and women who fought and died in order to preserve the rights and freedoms that many of us take for granted in this country. With the repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,’ we can move on from this sorry episode to honor the service and sacrifice of our courageous soldiers who put themselves in harm’s way, no matter what their sexual orientation may be.”